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Petrol or Diesel?

The age old debate - petrol or diesel? you may find that there are benefits to both fuel types, but which suits you the best? We take a look!

Jan 22, 2014

One of the first decisions you will make when you buy your next car is whether to choose a petrol or a diesel engine. Over recent years diesel cars have grown in popularity and official figures show that diesel cars outsold their petrol counterparts in both 2011 and 2012. According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 63,347 diesel motors were sold in 2012, compared to 58,562 petrol motors. This continues a trend from 2011 where 60,570 diesels were sold compared to 56,763 petrol. So, if you don't know which type of engine to choose, keep reading for tips and advice on whether to buy a petrol or diesel car.

Buying and selling your car

One major factor to consider is that diesel cars tend to be more expensive to buy than their petrol equivalent. You can pay anything from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds more for a diesel compared to its petrol counterpart. However, diesel cars often offer better fuel economy than petrol models. So, if you're thinking of buying a diesel car then it pays to work out your likely mileage as to whether you will save that additional money over your period of ownership. In addition, diesel cars generally retain their value better than petrol versions. This is partly because diesel models are currently in high demand thanks to people looking for cars with better fuel economy and lower car tax rates.

The cost of filling up your car

The UK is one of only two countries in Europe where diesel is more expensive than petrol. So, when weighing up whether to choose a petrol or diesel model you have to work out your likely mileage, the relative fuel economy of the vehicles and the extra price you'll pay for fuel if you choose a diesel car. According to the Daily Mail, you will need to be driving between 20,000 and 30,000 miles per year to recover the extra purchasing costs of a diesel car versus a petrol car, which also takes into account the higher price of diesel fuel. A Which? consumer survey recently tested six identical petrol and diesel versions of popular models. The research found that if you drive around 11,000 miles per year, the petrol engine was the best choice on four out of six occasions. If you drive fewer miles than this a petrol engine will almost certainly be the best choice. What Car? says that it is true that 'the more miles you cover; the more likely you are to save money by choosing diesel.'

The running costs

One advantage of diesel cars over petrol cars is that they tend to be cheaper to tax and insure. With road tax being based on C02 emissions, cars that produce less C02 attract lower car tax rates. Diesel vehicles are often more efficient than their petrol opposite, and emit less C02, meaning you'll generally pay lower road tax. However, the 2012 Which? Car Survey showed that diesel-powered cars were, on average, still slightly less reliable than petrol ones. And, the costs of repairing problems with diesel cars can often be higher than the equivalent work on petrol models. In particular, diesel engines use particulate filters, which can get clogged - especially if you only use your car in an urban area or for short journeys. And, the cost of replacement for these filters can stretch into thousands of pounds.

So which is best - petrol or diesel?

The fact is that when it comes to choosing between a petrol and a diesel vehicle, there is no right answer. In general terms, if you drive fewer miles you're likely to find a petrol car more suitable. Even if you drive a lot of miles you may find that a diesel doesn't work out cheaper in the short term - although it could save you money eventually. Your choice will depend on you, the car you choose and the type of driving that you do.

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