Petrol Vs. Diesel Cars - Which is best for you??
Diesel cars have soared in popularity to outsell petrol motors, as drivers are tempted by their better fuel economy, but any savings could be heavily outweighed by a trap that can spell big repair bills.
Modern diesel cars are now fitted with a diesel particulate filter as part of European rules which came into force four years ago. DPFs work as a filter to trap soot and harmful particulates in the exhaust, reducing emissions by 80 per cent.
This benefits the environment, as well as reducing the owner’s car tax bill, but many motorists with modern diesel cars are finding their DPFs need replacing quicker than they thought, typically resulting in a four-figure bill.
DPFs are good for the environment - but many motorists are complaining that they are getting blocked, leaving them with a hefty bill.
If you are looking to snap-up a diesel car, you will now struggle to buy one without a DPF unless you go for an older vehicle. Any diesel motor produced after 2008 should be fitted with a DPF.
But despite helping the environment, they appear to be causing many motorists a costly problem - especially those who are not driving long distances.
This has led to some motoring experts warning low mileage or mainly urban drivers that they should not to be tempted away from petrol cars by better diesel fuel economy figures.
He says: ‘DPFs have a self-cleansing process built into the software of the car, so after a long journey they are meant to regenerate and re-cleanse.
‘However, if the car spends a lot of time performing short journeys, the DPFs can become clogged because the regeneration process doesn't have time to initiate.
‘We’ve heard of numerous national patrols being regularly called out to service cars as a result of particulate filter warning lights illuminating, indicating a partial blockage of the filter, with short distance driving being a contributory factor.’
THE RISE OF THE DIESEL
There are more diesel cars on British roads than ever before, as they soar in popularity. According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders found that 63,347 diesel motors were sold in 2012, compared to 58,562 petrol.
It followed on from the year before, where 60,570 diesels were sold compared to 56,763 petrol, making 2011 the first year diesels have outsold their petrol counterparts
For this reason, experts are warning drivers who plan to a buy a car for mainly town-based, stop-start driving, to avoid a new diesel.
The AA, for example, says that it is regularly called out to deal with cars with the particulate filter light on - indicating a partial blockage of the filter.
When buying a new or modern used diesel, car hunters must consider that DPFs are expensive to replace, with a typical repair bill costing in the region of £1,000-£3,000 on popular models.
The need for caution is even greater for those buying second-hand modern diesels, as they are less likely to benefit from the protection of a manufacturer's warranty and the filter is closer to the end of its life when it will need changing.
If you do buy a used diesel, it is essential to find out how soon the DPF will need replacing and what that will cost.
For example, a DPF in a Fiat 500 1.3 diesel manufactured between 2009-13 will cost £1,200 to repair, while an Audi A4 2 litre diesel built between 2007-10 will cost nearer £2,000 according to Auto Trader.
A Mini 1.6 DPF replacement cost typically hits £1,420 while the Volkswagen Polo will be £1,170.
Who should or shouldn’t get a diesel with a DPF?
Fiat 500: It costs more than £1k to replace a DPF in the popular diesel model of the supermini
Mr Quirk adds: ‘If you’re the sort of driver that does a lot of shorter driving stints, a small, turbo-charged petrol engine such as the Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost that’s available in both the Fiesta and Focus, or Volkswagen’s 1.2 TSI that’s available in the Polo would be a better bet.
‘Turbo-charged petrol engines get to optimum operating temperature very quickly and are also cheaper to buy than an equivalent diesel.
‘That said, for longer distance runs, a diesel will still perform better and you shouldn’t experience any problems with your DPF.’
One solution if buying second-hand is to research whether cars before a certain year have DPFs. In some cases it is possible to buy a pre-2007 model and avoid a DPF, for example.
A general rule of thumb is that if you mainly drive in town or in stop-start traffic and don't do regular longer motorway journeys, then a diesel car with a DPF could spell problems.
Ideally, you do not want to be doing regular short runs with the engine starting up from cold, as regeneration does not happen properly - the AA explains DPF problems here.
Diesel vs petrol: Is it really cheaper to run?
Britain is one of only two countries in Europe which has higher diesel costs over unleaded. Recent research by the Post Office found that diesel is 5p higher than unleaded. In Holland, it is 31p cheaper.
Diesel motors also tend to be higher in price than their petrol counterparts. A Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 3d diesel bought three years ago would have cost £13,715, whereas the petrol version would have been more than £2,000 less.
However, according to car valuation website Parkers, this model of the diesel in good condition would typically now cost £8,120 (with 30,000 miles on the clock) whereas the petrol version is just £500 cheaper.
Mr Quirk said: ‘Diesels are often perceived as the preferred fuel type, but we always tell our Auto Trader customers that it really depends on both the amount of miles and type of miles they will be covering.
‘Roughly, an individual will need to be doing between 20,000 – 30,000 miles per year to recover the extra purchasing costs of a diesel car versus a petrol car, which also accounts for the higher price of diesel fuel.’
Buyers tempted to opt for the diesel model also need to consider the DPF costs indicated above, which can add to the need to drive a certain amount of miles per year to make it worthwhile.
According to the AA, the DPF will typically need replacing after 75,000 miles - but it varies according to how the vehicle has been driven.
The motoring organisation also adds that additive is also usually stored in a separate tank in many models, with very small quantities used to treat fuel to lower the ignition temperature of the soot particles.
This lasts on average 70,000 miles and will need replenishing during a service, costing between £150 and £200.
Before purchasing your next car, why not seek advice about which fuel powered car would best suit your needs and driving style? The team at SPEED STYLE AUTO CENTRE are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and will dedicate their knowledge to help you pick the right car for you!!!!
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