When it comes to picking out a new car, one of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself is whether to opt for petrol or diesel. Or perhaps you’re considering a hybrid! This decision won’t simply impact how much it costs to fill up your tank either - it will also affect things like the economy and performance of the vehicle, as well as the cost of your road tax and MOT. 

You’ll also need to think about factors like the environmental impact of your new vehicle, such as CO2 and nitrous oxide emissions. Not to mention the initial cost of the car, the monthly payments if it’s on finance, and how quickly it depreciates. There’s clearly a lot to consider, so we’ve created a handy guide to help you get started!

electric car

Should I Get a Petrol Car?

If you’re looking for a less pricey vehicle, petrol cars are generally considered to be cheaper than diesel. This is primarily because the CO2 emissions reducing technology in diesel cars costs more to produce. Lots of people are also opting for petrol cars these days due to the recently exposed nitrous oxide emissions found in diesel vehicles. Or petrol may simply be what you’re used to!

Obviously petrol cars come with pros and cons, as do any type of vehicle. We’ve listed some of the top benefits and drawbacks below:

Advantages of Petrol

  • Whether you’re buying secondhand or new, petrol cars are typically cheaper
  • As there are more petrol cars on the market, parts are usually easier to replace and cost less
  • Most petrol engines emit less pollutants than diesel, plus are smoother and quieter 
  • Petrol cars can be powerful without needing a turbocharger 

Disadvantages of Petrol

  • In terms of mileage, petrol cars are usually worse than diesel 
  • As you need to fill up a petrol tank more often than its diesel counterpart, petrol works out to be more expensive
  • Petrol engine generally need maintenance more often than diesel, as they clog up faster

Should I Get a Diesel Car?

If you’re looking for a vehicle that requires less maintenance and has better fuel economy, you may wish to consider a diesel car. While the upfront cost is often more expensive, if you’re in it for the long haul, the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages. Another consideration with a diesel vehicle is that they’re usually more powerful than a petrol car, so if you regularly tow a caravan or trailer, diesel may be your best bet. 

So if you’re thinking about investing in a diesel car, perhaps you should consider the pros and cons below:

Advantages of Diesel

  • Diesel engines tend to be more efficient than petrol engines, which makes fuel prices cheaper overall 
  • As diesel cars have lower CO2 emissions, they’re usually in a lower tax band
  • Generally speaking, a diesel engine will have a longer lifespan than a petrol one

Disadvantages of Diesel

  • The initial cost of the vehicle is often more expensive, and diesel fuel also costs more more litre
  • Diesel cars emit nitrous oxide (N₂O), hydrocarbons and soot particulates
  • If you need to repair or replace a part, it can be more expensive

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Other Factors to Consider

Most of the pros and cons listed above relate to the initial cost of a vehicle, maintenance and fuel emissions. While these things are perhaps the most important considerations, there are a few more things you may wish to think about before buying a new car. We’ve explored a few of these factors below. 

Selling Price and Depreciation

The initial cost of a diesel car is almost always higher than that of a petrol car. On average, a petrol-run similar make and model will cost you around £1,500 less than the diesel equivalent. And while most people will save at least this much in fuel and maintenance costs over the years, according to Which?, if you’re buying new, it could take between six and eleven years to make back the money. 

You may be interested to know that the depreciation levels of both types of vehicle are comparable. The only real outlier is a convertible - diesel convertibles seem to depreciate far more than petrol. 

Running Costs

Per litre, diesel costs more at just about every petrol station across the UK. It’s usually at least a few more pence per litre, but can be significantly more. The good news is that, because the fuel economy of a diesel engine is much better than a petrol one, it works out cheaper in the long run.

Vehicle Performance

You may be aware that a diesel car has more torque than a petrol car, so has superior pulling power. So overtaking other cars is easier, and if you often tow a caravan, a diesel vehicle is ideal. The power of your vehicle probably isn’t too much of a concern for most people, but it may be something you need to consider for your work or lifestyle. 

Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

After reading the advantages and disadvantages of petrol and diesel cars, perhaps you’ll decide neither is the right option for you. If this is the case, there are other options, like an electric or hybrid vehicle. Most hybrid cars have a petrol combustion engine, which relies on an electric motor to give it more power. An electric car, on the other hand, is solely powered by an electric motor and batteries. 

Both of these options are better for the environment too, as they emit either less or no harmful emissions. And they’re also quieter than conventional vehicles - some people even argue that electric cars are too quiet! 

In terms of economy, both electric and hybrid cars are cheaper to run - when compared to filling up a petrol or diesel tank, it can sometimes cost around half the price. Hybrid vehicles are additionally cheaper to tax, due to their lower emissions, while electric cars, which don’t emit toxic substances, are exempt from road tax altogether.