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Choosing the right fuel type for you

Choosing between diesel or petrol cars can be a tricky business. Diesel engines are commonly perceived to be the cheaper option in the long term, but that may not necessarily be the case. Driving habits can play a big part in fuel economy and other factors such as running costs and performance can be greater considerations depending on your preferences.



Most diesel vehicles now come fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to reduce harmful exhaust gases. A DPF works by trapping soot particles as they exit the car and it regularly burns them off through a process known as ‘regeneration’. This process can only take place automatically when the exhaust gets hot enough during continuous periods of driving at higher speeds, such as motorway journeys.

If you mainly carry out short or urban journeys it is not always possible for the regeneration process to take place and this could cause the filter to become blocked. If this happens you may have to leave your car with your dealer while the filter is repaired or replaced and this could be very inconvenient. For this reason, a petrol car may be more suitable for city and town users or those who mainly carry out short journeys.

The cost of fuel

Currently in the UK, diesel tends to cost more than petrol. As diesel engines use fewer miles per gallon on average, many people expect the bigger expense at the pump to be recouped fairly swiftly as the miles add up. But in some cases, depending on the specific mpg of the vehicle engine, petrol could actually be a more cost effective choice. A variety of ‘fuel economy calculators’ tools are available online which could help you compare what you’re likely to spend on your typical mileage. You can also find a list of mpg figures for cars tested on UK roads at .

The environment

Diesel vehicles tend to produce less CO2 than their petrol counterparts, and as a result, governments have frequently incentivised purchase of diesel vehicles to bring down national CO2 levels. However, there is growing awareness that while diesels do help with CO2 reduction, they emit more nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution and more particulates. Manufacturers meanwhile argue that today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of substantial investment to improve air quality. A Europe-wide law, Euro-6, which will come into force in September, limits nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from new diesel cars an effort to bring down air pollution levels.

The performance

Traditionally, petrol models offer a faster, smoother and quieter ride than their diesel equivalents. But the more refined modern diesel engines generally offer increased torque (pulling power) at lower revs, which allows you to change gears earlier, which is especially useful when overtaking.

Which one is right for you?

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a car, but generally speaking, if you intend to drive a lot of miles on the motorway, it may well be worth going for a diesel. On the other hand, if you tend to use your car for shorter journeys and covering less miles, a petrol car may better suit your needs.

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