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Petrol vs Diesel

Dec 14, 2021 | Insights

Don’t make the wrong choice when choosing the right car for you

You know how expensive fuel costs can be. Times have changed, and diesel vehicles have changed too. It used to be that unleaded petrol was your most cost-effective option per litre at the bowser. However, slowly but surely, the price gap between the two has closed. When weighing up the differences between petrol vs diesel, price can be an important factor to look at. But it’s not the only factor!

When looking to purchase a car, the options are endless, and the competition between engines is fierce. Before deciding between petrol vs diesel, it’s essential to compare the pros and cons of prices, fuel economy, performance, and the servicing and maintenance of both options.


The differences between petrol vs diesel engines

Without getting too deep into the car specifics, common rail diesel engines rely on a combustion process that doesn’t require spark plugs. Instead, they have glow plugs that assist with cold starting your car in sub-zero temperatures. Today, this is seen as the simpler combustion process when compared with petrol running engines. Engines that run on petrol rely on spark plugs with an electrical circuit to ignite its fuel. This is but one of the key differences between the motors.


The purchase price of your car

When you’re looking for a car, the price can perhaps be the most important factor by far. When it comes to purchase price, petrol vehicles can save you thousands over a new diesel model. This means that by purchasing a petrol engine rather than diesel, you may ultimately be spending a lower initial cost and looking for a smaller amount of finance, if finance is required. This can be a major plus for when you need a new car that doesn’t break the bank with its price.

Let’s look at the big picture. Ultimately, a car is not just your mode of transport, but it can be an investment — even though it can be an investment that will more than likely depreciate.

When you’ve decided it’s time to say goodbye, you’ll want to ensure a reasonable return on the resale cost. Studies have shown that petrol cars tend to have a lower resale value than diesel vehicles. A diesel car may have a more expensive upfront cost, but it will likely retain value and sell for more. This can mean more money in your pocket later on, when choosing a diesel car over a petrol vehicle.


The performance of diesel and petrol cars

When scaling hills and roads with steep inclines, you generally want the peace of mind that your car won’t slow down or rev into oblivion. When behind the wheel of a petrol model, driving up hills can be a tiresome and slow process. This is the last thing you want. However, when you need that little extra pulling power, diesel cars can have your back and generally won’t be as slow as you’re already at the right revs. Diesels produce considerably more torque (pulling power) than their petrol counterparts, making them good engines for towing or carrying heavy loads.

Gone are the days of immense air pollution and rumbling diesel cars of decades ago. Today, diesel engine manufacturers boast of their hi-tech piezo-electric injectors, electronic injection control, and turbocharging. For you, this generally allows for more precise fuel control than a petrol engine.

If you’re conscious of climate change, diesel motors actually emit less carbon dioxide (Co2). On the other hand, diesel motors produce more nitrogen dioxide, but they contain particulate filters (DPF) to ensure air quality.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with diesel engines. Often, a diesel engine is still the noisier alternative of the two. When you’re behind the wheel of a petrol vehicle, you generally experience a humbler exhaust, more controlled sound, while still having the power to speed up on cue.


The fuel economy of diesel and petrol cars

Here is where diesel engines really shine. In comparison to a petrol engine, diesel engines are 30 per cent more fuel-efficient. This means that you’ll likely be pulling up to the fuel station less often. Depending on the vehicle, petrol motors might take you roughly 700 kilometres on the road. In contrast, a diesel engine is likely to go more than 1,000 kilometres, all on the same fuel tank volume. However, it is important to note that the economy of diesel engines and petrol engines depends on how you drive. If you’re someone who drives in bumper-to-bumper traffic each day, expect to not see as great of returns in fuel efficiency in a diesel car. In some cases, this could mean that petrol-powered cars have better fuel economy.

Diesel may sometimes have the upper hand with fuel economy, however, what good is that when you can’t find diesel fuel at the bowser? Nowadays, you’d be surprised not to find a wide variety of fuel pumps at a service station. However, petrol is often favoured when it comes to stations that offer a single pump at the bowser. With the majority of trucks in Australia being diesel-powered, every fuel station should have at least one diesel bowser, but be aware that you might need to line up for longer during peak times to access diesel.


Servicing and maintaining your engine

You don’t need to make servicing your car more of a hassle than it already is. Unfortunately, with a diesel vehicle, you can generally expect to spend more money and time at the mechanic compared to with a petrol counterpart. This is due to their more complex engine. If you own a diesel vehicle, it’s very important to use quality diesel-specific oils, coolants and filters, and stick to the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. Very expensive problems for a diesel engine can occur if you neglect them.

On the other hand, petrol engines are generally simpler and may require less of your hard-earned cash to maintain. With a petrol engine, you can relax knowing that when it comes time for a service, you won’t have to break the bank like with some diesel engine costs.


Petrol or diesel? Purchase the car that is right for you

At the end of the day, it’s 100 per cent your decision when deciding between a petrol or diesel car. As the technology has progressed, engine types are becoming harder to distinguish the differences in performance and characteristics between them. A side effect of this would be that it’s becoming harder to choose!
But don’t stress. Know that petrol and diesel prices are predicted to swap positions in the future, so don’t base your decision purely on the price of filling up. If either option concerns you financially, don’t forget to participate in supermarket fuel promotions and reward cards for selected fuel stations.

If you’ve made up your mind and require finance to get in your next car, we may be able to assist you. Contact our team on 1800 346 663 to discuss your options and get the ball rolling.

Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.

When applying for finance with Finance One, all normal lending criteria apply. Fees and charges are payable. Terms and conditions apply.

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Makala Elliott

Makala is the Marketing Manager at Finance One. She has worked in the Finance and Lending industry for over 10 years, gathering a wealth of experience. She is passionate about helping Australians get back on track with their finances by passing on her knowledge.

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