Should I buy a diesel car header

Should I buy a diesel car in 2024?

Despite being initially presented as an eco-friendlier powertrain, diesel cars have fallen out of favour in recent years.

With diesel drivers now affected by tax hikes, parking surcharges - and the continued rollout of chargeable emissions zones across the UK, diesel cars already seem less appealing to many.

What’s more, the impending 2035 ban on the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars could push the once mighty diesel even closer to extinction.

However, despite all these challenges, diesel cars still hold a small but significant share in the UK’s new car market.

So, is it still worth buying a diesel car? To get to the bottom of this issue, we’ll take a look at some of the surprising benefits of diesel ownership – and some of the pitfalls you might not be aware of.

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Considerations when buying a diesel car

Whether you should buy a diesel car over a petrol, electric, or hybrid model is a complicated decision - and there’s no universal right answer. Here are some of the key factors to consider:

  • Diesel cars are often fuel-efficient

    Diesel engines are generally more fuel-efficient than petrol models because they require less pressure on the accelerator and fewer engine revs – and the less energy the car expends, the more you'll save on fuel.

    Therefore, if you have a high annual mileage or tend to cover a lot of miles on the motorway, you may find that a diesel car is the best option for you.

    Despite the surge in taxes, diesel cars remain cheaper to run than petrol cars for high-mileage drivers. If you're clocking up over 12,000 miles a year, the initial outlay for a diesel car may be worth it, as you could recoup a good amount of this cash in fuel savings.

  • Diesel cars are durable and reliable

    Diesel cars are designed to be robust, due to the high compression force of the ignition cycle. As a result, diesel cars are often more reliable and durable than many petrol and electric models.

    If you’re looking for a car with durability and longevity at the core of its design, diesel motors are typically a safe bet. The lifespan of a diesel vehicle varies depending on the make and model. However, the average diesel car, if well maintained, can last 30 years or 1,000,000 miles – compared to around 200,000 miles or 11-14 years for the average petrol car.

  • Diesel cars won’t necessarily incur emissions charges

    You can reduce the risk of being hit with inner-city diesel charges by buying a newer Euro 6-compliant diesel car.

    Under the current rules, these vehicles are not subject to daily charges for travelling within London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) or the Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in various cities.

    Of course, these rules are subject to change, so don’t count on your diesel being exempt from emissions-based charges indefinitely!

    Please note: All diesel cars are liable for charges in Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ). So, if you regularly travel within the centre of Oxford, consider whether a diesel car would be a viable purchase.

  • Suitable for large company cars

    The new car tax system has diminished the long-held advantages of diesel cars.

    The company car tax system, on the other hand, maintains its links to CO2 emissions, so you could still make savings if you opt for a diesel company car. Moreover, large diesel cars like SUVs are more fuel-efficient than equivalent petrol models and tend to attract lower company car tax rates.

    As we mentioned earlier, diesels favour high mileage drivers. So, if you regularly travel around the UK for business, a diesel vehicle may be worth considering.

  • Suitable for towing

    Diesel powertrains are better suited to towing than their petrol or electric counterparts. This is due to their superior pulling power (torque), which allows them to haul heavy caravans and trailers much more easily.

    When attempting to tow a trailer uphill, you’re much more likely to stall in a petrol car. What’s more, as petrol cars are less efficient at towing, if you tow on a regular basis, you’ll likely pay more for fuel than you would with a diesel.

    Therefore, if you plan to tow on a regular basis, you might be better off with a diesel.

  • Higher resale values

    Whilst some diesel cars depreciate faster than petrol or electric models, newer, larger diesel cars often retain their value better than equivalent petrol models.

    The durability and longevity of diesel cars is often reflected in their resale value, which means you could get a great price for your diesel motor when you decide to sell your car.

    Of course, this might not always be the case; the resale value of diesel cars will likely be impacted as the 2035 ban on the sale of new diesels draws closer.

  • Look into Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) plans

    One way of protecting yourself against diesel’s uncertain future is by taking out a PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) plan. PCP agreements give you two options that can help you avoid the cost of depreciation:

    • Purchase the car at the end of contract by making the balloon payment.
    • Hand the car back at the end of the contract with nothing more to pay – regardless of whether the car has depreciated faster than expected.
  • Diesel Particulate Filters

    The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is the one of the most important components in a diesel engine – and one of the most frequent causes of diesel car problems.

    If you regularly drive in urban stop/start traffic, your car won’t have the chance to get hot enough to burn off the soot that gathers, which can cause the DPF to become clogged.

    A blocked DPF is expensive to clean - and even more expensive to replace. Therefore, if you mainly drive around town, a diesel car might not be the best choice for you. However, if you tend to do most of your driving on open roads or motorways, diesels are still worth considering.

The future of diesel cars

A ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars (including hybrid cars with petrol and diesel powertrains) is set to be enforced in the UK from 2035. Whilst the ban will not affect the sale of used petrol and diesel cars, the new rule is expected to diminish their resale values.

Motor industry experts predict that in two decades, most cars sold will be electric, enhanced hybrids that are exempt from the rules, or potentially, hydrogen-powered.

Although the full impact of these restrictions won’t be felt for a while, it’s certainly worth taking them into account before deciding whether to buy a diesel car.

Diesel car taxes and the toxin tax explained

Diesel fuel has a very high carbon footprint, with one gallon of diesel fuel emitting around 10,180 grams of CO2 once combusted.

For that reason, the UK government considered a toxin tax. Outlined by legislators in 2017, it was proposed that diesel drivers in some of the UK’s major cities would be required to pay a £20 daily emissions fee. The proposed fee would have affected drivers of diesel lorries, passenger cars, taxis and coaches.

Whilst this tax was never officially introduced, there are plenty of other taxes and surcharges that diesel drivers need to be aware of, especially those driving Euro 5 and below diesel cars. If you’re buying a second-hand diesel, it’s worth considering a model that meets Euro 6 standards, as these are currently exempt from most emissions zone charges.

In the longer term, it’s very possible that the UK Government will impose additional charges on diesel drivers as part of their drive towards electrification.

  • Increased taxes

    Diesel cars that do not meet the RDE2 standard are subject to higher rates of car tax in the first year than petrol models producing the same emissions levels. For example, a non-RDE2 compliant diesel producing 76-90g/km would pay £175 in the first year, whereas a petrol model producing emissions in the same range would pay just £135.

    RDE2-compliant diesels are taxed at the same rate as equivalent petrol models. From the second year onwards, all petrol and diesel cars registered after 1st April 2017 will be charged a flat rate of £190 - whilst hybrid owners (including hybrid diesels) will be charged £180.

  • Charges to drive in London (ULEZ charge)

    Drivers of non-Euro 6 diesel cars and vans are subject to a daily charge of £12.50 when driving around London’s ULEZ, which operates across all 32 London boroughs and the City of London.

  • Clean Air Zone charges

    London isn’t the only city where diesel drivers are taxed to reduce air pollution. Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Tyneside all have their own CAZs, which levy daily charges on high polluting vehicles travelling within their designated zones.

  • Parking surcharges

    London was the first UK city to raise parking fees for diesel drivers. Westminster City Council has raised on-street parking fees for all diesel cars sold before 2015 by up to 50%.

    More recently, Bath and North East Somerset Council has followed suit and imposed higher parking charges on diesel drivers.

  • Can I still drive a diesel car after 2035?

    According to the current plans, you’ll still be able to drive your existing diesel car after 2035. The ban will only affect the production of diesel engines from 2030 and the sale of new diesel cars after 2035.

    Used diesel cars can still be sold after 2035, which means you’ll also be able to sell yours after the restrictions are introduced.

Is it worth buying a diesel car?

There are plenty of reasons why a diesel car could be more suited to some drivers than a petrol or electric motor, with fuel efficiency, resale value and exemption from emissions charges being amongst the most appealing benefits.

However, with the planned ban on the sale of new diesel cars by 2035, it’s worth thinking about their long-term lifespan. After all, as we see fewer and fewer diesel cars on the road, it may become harder to seek repairs for yours – and it might not hold its value as well as cars with other powertrains.