When it comes to buying used cars, one of the first considerations is whether to buy a Petrol or Diesel model.
Electric and hybrid cars make up only a small portion of the market at present, so for most of us it comes down to a choice of Unleaded or Derv.
But which is the better choice for you, and why? We’ll look at some pros and cons of each.
Diesel cars had a reputation for being slow, noisy and smelly. However, in recent years they have come forward in leaps and bounds, providing better performance and breathtaking fuel economy. They are also quieter than they used to be, with only a little clatter during start-up or heavy acceleration to remind you it’s a Diesel.
For fleet buyers and high mileage drivers, Diesel is the first choice for better fuel economy. Diesel also offers lots of driving pleasure with plenty of torque on tap when you need it, meaning less gear changing. You can now choose from a range of engines between super-economical city cars, and luxury and sporting models with performance rivalling a supercar.
But Diesel fuel isn’t all positive. Any Diesel owner will tell you about getting oily hands every time they fill up. The more absent-minded among us would warn you to ensure you don’t accidentally fill your Diesel car with petrol because the petrol pump nozzle fits a Diesel too (although not vice versa). Drivers making short journeys have to contend with Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs).
If you don’t travel far, your DPF can block and lead to expensive garage bills, so it pays to have a blast down the motorway now and then. Diesel cars also cost more to buy than their petrol counterparts, and Diesel fuel is currently about 5 pence a litre more than petrol. So you need to cover a few miles before choosing a Diesel pays for itself.
Petrol cars are generally cheaper to buy and fuel than their Diesel siblings and offer a greater selection of models to choose from, between small economical city cars, and big engine supercars. Those who call themselves “petrolheads” will usually favour big petrol engines due to their raw performance and the lovely sound they make.
There is now also a new generation of petrol engines fitted with a turbo, which provides better performance and economy from a smaller engine. As a result, some petrol engines are now offering fuel economy almost as good as a Diesel.
However, petrol still doesn’t make as much sense for higher mileage drivers or fleet buyers as Diesel does. As a rule, petrol cars also depreciate faster than Diesel models, so although you may pay less for it to start with, it could be worth less when it comes to selling it.
Petrol owners often have to work a bit harder to get all the performance out of their cars too, with less torque on tap than a Diesel.
The choice is yours!