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Diesel vs. petrol? Here are eight critical things to consider

2017-08-03 06:00

When it comes to selecting your new car there are many things to consider. In an era marked by declining brand loyalty, the “specials” and deals available at the time you’re ready to replace your car will probably play a big part. Another important decision is whether to buy a petrol or a diesel car – here are the critical things to think about. Whether to buy a diesel or a petrol car is one of those critical decisions that you’ll need to make. Here are the key things you need to think about.

-        Cost: Diesel engines are technically more complex than petrol engines, and are therefore significantly more expensive to buy.

-        Resale: A well-maintained diesel car should offer stronger resale when you come to sell the car.      

-        Maintenance: Diesels are incredibly robust, but only as long as you look after them. That’s why they require more frequent and more expensive maintenance that will, in the long run, possibly reward you with a longer lifespan (so long as the rest of the car holds together as well).

-        Fuel efficiency: Diesel cars are notably more fuel-efficient than petrol cars – usually by a factor of 25% - 30%, but this gets more and more significant the bigger and heavier the car is. A petrol-powered SUV, for example, will use as much as 50% more petrol than its diesel equivalent. Depending on how you use your vehicle, this can mean that your fuel savings outweigh the increased initial outlay over time (and increased borrowing costs associated with it, if you’ve financed the car).

-        Noise and refinement: While the car manufacturers have over the past decade made extraordinary advances in diesel technology, petrol engines tend to be quieter and more refined to drive.

-        Power delivery: Diesel engines are usually strong on low-RPM torque delivery, whereas petrol engines are better focused at delivering outright horsepower. That means diesel cars make excellent long-distance cruisers, workhorse vehicles and towing vehicles. Petrol cars tend to feel more powerful and nippy, and might appeal more to an enthusiast.

-        Pollution: Petrol cars emit more carbon than diesel cars, which is said to be a ‘greenhouse gas’. Petrol, however, is much less energy-intensive to refine than diesel.  Anyone who’s ever driven behind a diesel car or truck will know that while diesel cars emit significantly less carbon, they instead emit a mixture of nitrous oxides and highly carcinogenic particulates (soot), which have been blamed for surging cancers and other lung ailments in Europe, where uptake of diesel has been widespread.

-        Tax: In South Africa, new cars attract a carbon tax, which affects the price of petrol cars more than diesel cars, due to their higher carbon emissions. All of this means that there is no simple answer to the diesel/petrol conundrum, as it entirely depends on the kind of use your car is subjected to, and your lifestyle. For example, if you have a long commute on a freeway and like to tow a caravan occasionally, the very obvious call would be for a diesel car. If, however, you live in the city and drive a small car short distances, the obvious choice would be to go for a petrol car.

Over the coming decade it is likely that diesel cars will be phased out in favour of petrol/electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars that will mitigate against the twin problems of petrol engines’ relatively poor fuel economy and the dangerous emissions from diesel cars. In the meantime, however, it’s still a choice you’ve got to make…

Now that we’ve given you something to think about, why not head over to AutoTrader and view new and second-hand diesel and petrol cars? AutoTrader South Africa has been the leading media market space for the past 24 years for buying and selling vehicles. Whether you are looking to buy a brand new car or are in the market for a pre-loved model, AutoTrader has over 71 000 cars to choose from! Find your ideal car on AutoTrader.

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