Should You Buy a Diesel Car in 2023?

If you're in the process of buying a new car, we assess the positives and negatives of buying a diesel vehicle.

If you're thinking of buying a new car, you may have identified that diesel cars are not as popular as they once were. You may also have noticed that the price of diesel from petrol stations is not too much more expensive than unleaded.

There are a few reasons why diesel cars have become a little obsolete in recent years, including the belief that they are higher-polluting compared to petrol vehicles.

It means that those with diesel cars generally have to pay higher taxes and pay to drive in Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ). While they tend to have a better fuel economy, people are still looking elsewhere when buying a new car.

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The UK government recently announced that they would be continuing towards banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, which has led to more people looking to purchase electric and hybrid vehicles sooner than expected.

Car manufacturers are also increasing their efforts in producing electric and hybrid vehicles, and while Tesla leads the way, the likes of Volkswagen, BMW, Nissan, and Vauxhall are doing their bit to reduce globals emission.

The effect of diesel cars on the environment

Diesel engines produce less CO2 emissions than petrol cars, and when they were first introduced, they were promoted as an environmentally-friendly option in comparison to regular vehicles.

However, while producing less CO2, they emit nitrous oxides, which are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution around the world. That's why clean air zones such as ULEZ have been introduced in major UK cities, including London and Glasgow.

Positives of diesel cars

Diesel cars have lost some of their attractiveness in the past few years, but there are still several advantages to buying or owning a diesel car, especially until the ban comes in.

Fuel economy

If you travel around the country for work, a diesel car could be a better option because of its fuel economy. Studies have shown that diesel engines could be up to 20% more efficient than petrol, meaning that you are filling up less often and potentially saving money, despite diesel generally being more expensive than petrol.

Cleaner engines

Due to problems with diesel engines producing nitrogen oxide, manufacturers have been producing cleaner engines to reduce the problem while incentivising people to buy diesel again. 

Cheaper used prices

Because of the negative publicity that diesel vehicles have gotten in recent years, used diesel cars are typically cheaper to buy than their petrol counterparts.

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Negatives of diesel cars

Environmentalists will all confirm that diesel cars are not good for the planet, and that is the biggest disadvantage to owning one. However, there are a few additional reasons why it may be a bad time to buy or own one.


ULEZ charges

If you live in a major UK city, you will have to pay per day to drive your diesel car. In London's ULEZ, motorists whose cars don't meet the criteria have to pay £12.50 per day. That's over £4,000 per year to drive their motor.

Higher maintenance costs

Servicing a diesel car is generally more expensive than a normal car, and as we've already established, diesel is more expensive than petrol, even if the gap has been bridged in recent years.

Higher purchase price

Used diesel cars may be cheaper than petrol ones, but typically, a brand-new diesel will cost considerably more. It's due to the need for a stronger engine and special filters fitted to reduce emissions.

How long will diesel cars be around in the UK?

While the UK is banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, you will still be able to buy used diesel cars, which will likely be even cheaper than they are now.

There are many people out there against the purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles for performance-related reasons, as well as the difficulty in getting a charging port or driving longer distances without having to replenish the battery.

Some manufacturers, however, are moving away from the production of diesel cars, which could mean that by 2030, we are in short supply of second-hand ones anyway.

Should you sell your diesel car?

If you have a diesel car and are worried about its future, you need to decide based on your circumstance. There's no right or wrong answer, as you still have plenty of years before the sale of new diesel cars is banned.

The only thing you may want to consider is if you do intend to sell your diesel car in the future, could you make more money now or later on, particularly as more areas of the country are implementing clean air zones.

If you live in one of those zones now, you may want to consider selling as it will cost you a significant amount per year extra to drive your diesel vehicle.

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Should you switch to an electric vehicle or hybrid?

It comes down to personal preference. The sale of electric vehicles in the UK this year is at its highest yet; Tesla Model Y, in particular, is in the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK in 2023.

EVs are more expensive to buy, but they cost less to run and maintain than a diesel car, therefore, you're likely to save money in the long run.

If you live in an area with ULEZ, EVs produce little to no emissions, so you won't be stung by additional charges.

While an EV may be an attractive prospect, the charging infrastructure is still not quite where it needs to be. If you don't have a driveway, for example, you're limited in where the charge point could go, and you may have to drive to your local supermarket a couple of times per week to replenish.

If you don't want to buy a brand new EV to save money, the used EV market is still relatively small, so it may be difficult to buy a cheaper model at this moment in time.


Will my diesel car's value drop?

When it was announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned from 2030, there was expectation that diesel car prices would plummet; however, that has not happened. That doesn't mean that it won't in the future, but it's reasonably stable at this moment.

How often do you need to charge an electric vehicle?

Many new electric vehicles can travel for up to 200 miles without needing to be charged. That said, it does vary on the vehicle manufacture, so bare that in mind before you buy an EV or set off on a long journey in an EV.