Which car to buy: Petrol or Diesel?

Have you pondered over this question?

While buying a car these days, a majority of us prefer to buy the diesel variant of the car of our choice (if its available), as compared to the petrol one. Even though the diesel variant comes:

  • at a higher purchase cost than the petrol variant (atleast sets you back by Rs. 1.0 Lakh)
  • with costlier maintenance (atleast Rs. 2500/- more than the petrol variant)
  • with vibration & noise (It ain’t as smooth a drive like the petrol variant!) – though many diesel vehicles have improved here;
  • and is known to be more polluting than the petrol variant!

One of the primary reason why diesel cars are preferred in India is: Diesel is cheaper than Petrol!
The other being, diesel cars give a better mileage as compared to petrol cars.

One more: I’ve got a friend here at Bangalore, Rohan (RJF), who’s quite unique amongst the friends I have here.Β (He’s got a diesel engine in his head, instead of a human brain, specially fit from FIAT, Italy). Β To quote him – if you would be driving majorly in the city, go for petrol. However, if you would be driving on highways quite often, go for diesel. Hmm… logical. He also gave me a long explanation, which was quite appropriate, however… technical. πŸ™‚

So, is it really worth buying a diesel car, anyway?

Okay, here’s where I kick start my Gujju brain…
(Note, the figures below are approximate.)

If you buy a petrol car – saving approx. Rs. 1.00 lakh – that can buy you about 1970 litres of petrol at the prevailing prices, for that amount — and drive atleast 26000 kms.

At the same time, to make up for the additional Rs. 1.00 lakh that you pay for a diesel car, it would need you to spend atleast Rs. 2.9 lakhs to buy 7692 litres of diesel, which otherwise you would’ve spent about Rs.3.9 Lakhs to buy the same 7692 litres of petrol — thus saving you Rs. 1.00 lakh.

So, do the figures get you the right perspective now?! πŸ˜‰

13 thoughts on “Which car to buy: Petrol or Diesel?”

  1. There are more savings. Generally Diesel engines give a better milage. Let me take an example of my car (TATA Indigo, 2004, DLS) It runs of diesel.:D.

    Even after 5 yrs, I get 22KM/L (without A/C) for drive from Bangalore to Mangalore and back (Those who know, Consider the road conditions). A petrol car of the same make and model will not give more than 14 KM/L (without A/C)
    Now for the Math:

    With 7692 Liters of Diesel, my car would run 169224 KM
    With 7692 Liters of Petrol, a petrol car of same make/model would run 107688 KM.
    That is a clear 61536 KM more. Again applying the Bangalore rates of Standard Diesel( Rs. 37.06) we are havind a saving of Rs. 103660.18. That is another lakh.

    1. See Thiru, the point is – paying extra while buying, assuming savings later. And I applied my “Gujju” mind to that… πŸ˜‰

      Driving from Bangalore to Mangalore is not an activity you’d do often. (AFAIK) In the city, petrol cars typically give 11-13 km/lt, while diesel cars give 14-16 km/lt. Its true that you would save money with the better mileage, however the maintenance of a diesel car would add up to the costs too.


  2. Hee hee.. Thanks for mentioning my name here.
    There is one more point I would like to add. One of the reasons I bought Palio MJD.
    At any cost, I wanted a Fiat car. And with petrol, there were only 2 engine options: the underpowered 1.1 Litre (57 PS), and the overpowered (read as fuel guzzling) 1.6 Litre (100 PS).. So I went for diesel.

    Of course, I hadn’t driven any diesel car other than my own for about a year after buying mine. And then I drove A Scorpio 2.6 CRDe, and that’s when I realised how refined Fiat’s multijet engine is, even though both engines come with common rail direct injection systems!!

    That was a bit off topic. Coming to the point, I also have heard that diesel engines take a while to get into “performing” mode. That is, if your usual destination is very close to your starting point (most of the times, the distance between your house and your office is very less), you reach your destination even before your engine warms up enough to operate efficiently. In such a case, I guess petrol car is better.

    But for spead freeks (I mean speed freaks), diesel engines (especially with common rail injection systems) are better. You can use some after-market gadgets (such as Pete’s) to disrupt the signals sent by the ECU to the injectors, and thus attain a better power output (obviously, these gadgets aren’t designed to give a lesser power output than the factory-set!!).
    This option is very limited in petrol engines, if at all available. Perhaps it is only the K&N filters that will help you here.

    I am not an expert in petrol engines, so guys, please correct me if I am wrong.

  3. Boss, Diesel it is, coz Rohan says so πŸ™‚ I’ve gone through these discussion multiple times.
    Banters aside, yeah Diesel seems to be a good option with the current advances in technology.

  4. Nirav bhai, You have highlighted a very valid point here about people getting misled to buy a diesel vehicle keeping in mind only cheaper fuel and better mileage. The difference amount paid is quite huge to be made up considering most of it is for city usage.

    I have relatives who are in the travel business for decades and quite humbly prefer petrol cars over diesel ones. They say they cannot bear the extra maintenance, extra sound effects over a period of time that come free for the extra price paid.

    That said, we have hardly had good diesel engines in India for a long time. Courtesy Rohan, I have learnt about the wonders that some of the European companies have created out of Diesel engines. So I would rather prefer to wait before deciding.

    My uncle in the travel business wud say: Petrol is for vehicles like what Water is for thirst!

  5. Hi I am one of the fan of diesel engines.

    I agree with Thiru and Rohan.
    1. I travel an hour and 15 mins one side to office.
    2. Diesel is cheaper
    3. Of course Petrol engine maintenance is cheaper than diesel
    4. I typically get 16 Kms/L and is cost effective.
    5. I dint see much pickup and responsiveness between petrol and diesel as I use Shell diesel only.
    6. I keep the engine idle after start for one minute to get turbo advantage.
    7. Diesel emit less harmful gasses compared to petrol (even carbon sooty exhaust is not so dangerous as smooth and good running petrol engine)
    8.Modern engines in Diesel is improved a lot so-much-so that even Europeans are adopting it

    Regarding my choice of selection – Petrol of small distances and Diesel for long distances and hence i choose Diesel.

  6. hmmm…good post.

    Once the oil prices get deregulated and the government removes the existing subsidies (which will likely happen in the next 6 months)…the gap between petrol and diesel prices will narrow down to insignificance and savings will cease to be a differentiator….which brings us down to just 2 parameters for selection…efficiency and/or fan-following.

    1. Thanks Manju & Rajan!

      @Rajan: True about the deregulation, however — with the Congress Raj — its really unlikely that we can ever do without quotas, without these “pro-poor” subsidies, farmer loan waivers, and such. So – we can only hope.

    1. Thanks for the link Rajan – excellent info!~

      To curb the inflation (and save face), any ruling party would not want to do a Rs.4.xx (Petrol) & Rs.100 (LPG) hike in one shot. 😐

      One other thing – if there’s a little balance -> like, the govt. reduces the income tax rates for tax-payers (in the forthcoming budget) and at the same time hikes the prices of fossil fuel — probably the govt. could “earn” much more than the tax earnings. Think about it, tax-payers as well as non-tax-payers need fossil fuel (directly or indirectly). Why not tax everybody through these essential items, as unlike income tax which a majority of Indians don’t pay?!

      And probably, after it would be expensive, more people would switch to the economical public transport. πŸ˜‰

  7. Hope UPA with deal with the Diesel raise in similar way as reservations. Just hang on to status Quo ;-).

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