Which car to buy - petrol or diesel?

If you’re looking to buy a vehicle and are overwhelmed by the choices on offer, there’s one more thing to consider: petrol or diesel? Both have advantages and disadvantages, and both are continually making strides in the manufacturing of new vehicles.

Diesel driven cars are not the noisy, smoky vehicles they used to be ten years ago. Advances in engineering technology have made it such that they compare favourably against petrol driven cars both in performance and refinement. 

All the while the gap between petrol and diesel is closing. Manufacturers are working to improve torque for petrol engines on the one hand and responsiveness for diesel engines on the other.


Here, we look at the pros and cons of both types of fuel. As with any purchase you make it comes down to you as an individual and your priorities. What do you want most from your vehicle?  Consider the running costs as well as driving preference, and then assess the comparisons below to help you make up your mind.


Petrol Powered Vehicles



  • Cheaper to buy.
  • Tend to weigh less than the diesel equivalent - an important consideration for high performance.
  • New-generation petrol engines are becoming smaller, lighter and more efficient with little performance loss.
  • The price difference between petrol and diesel is narrowing - petrol will soon become cheaper to buy. For the latest fuel prices for petrol and diesel: https://www.aa.co.za/on-the-road/calculator-tools/fuel-pricing/



  • Less fuel-efficient at 27%compared to 35% for diesel.
  • Higher depreciation rate than diesel cars.
  • Emits more carbon dioxide,carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons.


Modern Diesel Powered Vehicles



  1. Smoother than 2- and 3-cylinder petrol engines.
  2. Gets good mileage and delivers better fuel economy at approximately 35% against 27% for petrol
  3. No need for ignition tune-ups since they do not have spark plugs or distributors.
  4. Engines are more solidly built to withstand the higher compression and therefore they last longer.
  5. Able to produce higher torque or ‘pull’ at low speeds allowing them to overtake easily.
  6. Delivers good fuel economy even when towing.



  1. Tend to be more expensive to buy.
  2. While routine maintenance costs are similar for petrol and diesel, serious problems such as a clogged particulate filter in a diesel engine can mean an expensive replacement. (Tip:This happens if you use your diesel car mainly for city driving. Taking the car out for a drive on the motorway regularly enough will help clear the filters.)
  3. The more advanced technology makes it more expensive to repair. (Tip: Keep it well maintained regularly.)
  4. Produces more nitrogen particles, sulphur dioxide, and black smoke particles.
  5. The cost of diesel is no longer that much less than petrol and could easily rise to surpass that of petrol. For the latest fuel prices for petrol and diesel: https://www.aa.co.za/on-the-road/calculator-tools/fuel-pricing/




In summary, if you intend putting in a lot of driving especially on the open roads and long journeys, diesel is a good choice. But if you intend to use your car mostly for short distances and city driving, a petrol driven city car would make better sense. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Auto Pedigree and the authors makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.The owner of this blog will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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