The residual values of diesel driving are decreasing, and concerns about the level of air pollution released from diesel vehicles are now driving emissions legislation both in the UK and on a global scale. These factors, plus the fact that hybrid and petrol-run vehicles are becoming ever more fuel-efficient, means you might be asking yourself whether you should buy a diesel car this year.
The selling of new diesel and petrol powered vehicles will be officially banned by the year 2040 with the ambition of removing them from the roads completely only a decade later in 2050. With scheduled termination a long way off still, it means that for the present at least, a diesel-run car can still figure into your calculations when deciding which car is best for you in 2019.
Whether or not you buy diesel will be affected by a number of factors specified by your individual driving needs and lifestyle. Read on to see if a car powered by diesel is the one for you.
Should I buy a diesel car?
When deciding whether a vehicle with a diesel engine is right for you, it’s worth looking at the strengths and weaknesses of these cars to see if it’s a match for your individual requirements.
Brand new diesel vehicles are normally more costly to purchase than their petrol competitors, however they tend to have the edge when it comes to fuel economy. In some reported cases, they use 30% less than the unleaded alternatives available to drive.
Fuel economy becomes useful for drivers utilising their vehicles repeatedly on extended motorway trips with a medium-high to high mileage over the year. If this sounds close to your driving needs, then diesel could well be an option worth looking at.
If, however, your annual driving consists mainly of urban journeys over short distances, diesel is probably not best suited to the way you drive.
The short and slow driving style commonly necessary in built-up areas can cause diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to clog, whereas driving a diesel-powered vehicle over longer routes where a faster speed is required assists the filter system to regenerate automatically. Any soot buildup in the filter is then burned off.
DPF systems are a legal requirement that reduces pollutants present in exhaust fumes. DPFs when clogged are not only difficult to get clean but costly to repair, sometimes running into thousands of pounds if replacement is found to be necessary.
If your driving routine is mainly urban and over short distances, cities and busy towns usually suffer from bad quality air caused by emissions. Diesel cars produce emissions in greater quantities than petrol cars. In this respect, they’re less suitable for urban driving than their petrol powered counterparts.
When driving out of areas less built-up, the air quality is much improved and the prime concern of those using the road becomes CO2 emissions, which are well documented as being harmful to the environment. Diesel typically releases less CO2 than cars run on petrol, making them better suited for country driving. If this sounds more like your routine, a diesel option might be right.
Is it worth buying a diesel car?
When it comes to fuel economy, diesel powered engines are still ahead of petrol and hybrid both in urban settings around town as well as on the motorway. While diesel cars are likely to cost you more than petrol at the pump, a diesel vehicle’s fuel cost overall will be far cheaper than the petrol car equivalent. Tests have revealed that diesel cars are often more fuel efficient by around 9mpg, which can translate to saving roughly £200 per year.
Manufacturers’ figures are not always accurate, so for a clearer picture of these statistics, it’s worth checking out specialist car reviews. These are independent and are less likely to be biased. Fuel prices at present can also be found at reliable online sources.
When it comes to the cost of car tax, how much you pay will depend on when the car you drive was registered with its first owner. Your car will then remain on this tax system through each following resale.
If your car was registered prior to April 2017, all rates for tax are based on emissions of CO2. A vehicle producing under 100 grams per kilometre of CO2 wouldn’t pay car tax, and because diesel cars generally release lower CO2 volumes than petrol, they were either less expensive to tax or entirely tax-free.
If your vehicle was registered onwards from April 2017, only the first annual payment is founded on emissions of CO2. In the second year and onwards, car owners then pay a fixed rate annually of £140. The only vehicles exempt from tax are those with zero emissions costing under £40,000.
Diesel vehicles registered from April 1, 2018, unless able to meet the standard of Euro 6d, will pay a higher rate of tax in year one.
If you’re driving into London in a diesel car, there will be additional costs on your horizon. In April 2019, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) came into effect, replacing the T-Charge. Keepers of petrol cars that can’t meet at least Euro 4 will need to pay a £12.50 fee on top of the £11.50 congestion charge. Diesel-powered vehicles will need to reach the Euro 6 standard to avoid the additional charge. By the end of 2019, diesel vehicles more than four years old may be required to pay a cost of £24 to enter the zone.
There are more zones for clean air in the offing following the UK Air Quality plan, with many cities around the country setting up areas after investigations into emissions. Not only diesel, but all internal combustion engines vehicles are being targeted. The university city of Oxford is proposing a Zero Emission Zone to phase out diesel vehicles and non-zero emission cars on specific roads and the city centre by 2035.
Why buy a diesel car?
The main reason to buy a diesel vehicle is if you can ensure you’ll benefit from the capabilities of this kind of car.
If you find that you’re driving over long distances every year, then diesel is probably a good choice. If you can afford the higher price tag that comes with a diesel-powered car, you can gain the benefit of an impressive fuel economy making all those miles you need to cover less expensive. Remember though that if the car you purchase was registered later than 2017, you will no longer enjoy the exemption from tax and the more recently it was registered, the higher rate of car tax you’ll pay.
If you drive outside of urban settings for the most part, diesel is worth buying as they are better suited for long stretches in the country than the short and often slow drives around congested towns and cities. The diesel particulate filter (DPF) that is designed to assist with emissions can easily become clogged in such circumstances and be difficult to clean and highly costly to replace. Open-road driving is better for the filter, burning off accumulated soot and self-regenerating.
If your driving involves towing heavy loads, diesel is worth thinking about. The heavier the car, the more power it requires so the fuel economy will save you money alone. On top of this, diesel engines are designed with impressive pulling power, making them great for hauling extra weight.
While buying a diesel vehicle may still be on your list of options when buying a car for 2019, the long-term prognosis for this engine type is not favourable.
The sale of brand-new diesel cars and their petrol rivals will face a ban in 2040. This announcement was made on July 26 2017 when the UK Air Quality plan went into publication. The plan, designed by the government, demands that local authorities enforce a reduction in emissions from vehicles in their vicinity utilising a variety of measures. These include altering road layouts at pinch points for air pollution and congestion, retro-fitting of public transport to release less emissions, and also investing in brand new buses designed to create low emissions. They will also be tasked with encouraging the use of this public transport and the purchasing of electric-powered vehicles.
If unsuccessful with this approach, local councils may introduce further restrictions, including charging zones or blocking certain types of vehicles from using specified routes during set times. The UK Air Quality plan also states that these restrictions can be lifted if emission levels drop enough to be compliant legally.
Internationally, many cities have pledged to ban diesel car by the earlier date of 2025, so bear this in mind if you intend to take your car abroad.
Is it safe to buy a diesel car?
While cars with diesel engines do emit less CO2 than cars that run on petrol, their exhausts can release pollutants such as nitrogen oxides that can be damaging to health.
Normally, diesel vehicles produce on average far more NOx than cars running on petrol. NOx stands for oxides of nitrogen which is a mixture of Nitrogen Oxide (NO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Oxides of nitrogen is considered harmful to people and is linked to premature deaths across the globe in tens of thousands.
All cars that function through the use of an internal combustion engine release NOx – this includes petrol and hybrid vehicles as well as diesel.
Huge advances in the reduction of a diesel engine’s impact on air quality have been made by the auto manufacturing industry and any new vehicles off the production line must conform to the emissions standards of Euro 6, which release less than their older counterparts.
Despite running far more cleanly than they previously did, diesel engines still produce over 10% more NOx than cars running on petrol.
Generally speaking, the newer the diesel powered vehicle is, the less damage it will be inflicting on the environment, although exactly how much it emits can depend on how it’s actually driven in the real world. Diesel cars are a popular choice for their lower emissions of CO2, impressive fuel economy, and their engine capabilities well matched to pulling heavy loads.
If you’re concerned with the safety of diesel driving on our environment, along with future charges that you may be at risk of, you may want to consider electric or hybrid options. When making any decision, always bear in mind the kind of driving you do, as vehicles with incredibly low emissions are far less of a fit when it comes to repetitive long-range journeys and carrying extra weight on board.
A summary of diesel cars
Overall, diesel cars have always been more costly to purchase than their petrol equivalents, but lower fuel and car tax costs used to balance this out. New amendments made to the way car tax works means owners of diesel cars will pay a larger sum in their initial year, with drivers of all vehicles paying the same flat rate from year two onwards. This effectively means the only saving on running a diesel vehicle comes via fuel economy. Additionally, DPFs are expensive to fix if replacement is necessary.
If you need to use your vehicle for towing, diesel can be choice worth looking into. Diesel engines produce massive quantities of torque which is ideal for pulling.
New rules added to DVSA MOTs state that if your diesel vehicle fitted with a DPF has smoke visibly emitting from your exhaust or if they discover evidence of tampering to your DPF, your car will fail it’s test at MOT.
Diesel cars are in the spotlight for their exhaust emissions being toxic, although this is not entirely true of all makes and models, with some diesel-powered vehicles giving off less NOx than standard petrol cars.