Which fuel type should I choose for my next car?

Wed 16 Aug

Long gone are the days of simply choosing diesel over petrol; these days choosing your fuel type is a much more complex matter. So with that in mind, we decided to take a look at the options there are out there for you and why some are seemingly better than others.

Petrol

The standard fuel for the vast majority of family cars on the roads of Australia, petrol has been the go-to fuel for decades. In fact, petrol engines have outsold diesels by quite some margin, but (the Volkswagen debacle aside) in recent years the improvement in diesel engine technology has led to a significant increase in popularity; more on that later.

Petrol engines are often most popular because of the simple fact that they cost less to buy upfront. They also cost less to service and petrol prices at the pumps are generally cheaper than diesel. So with so many apparent savings, it’s easy to see why drivers that don’t necessarily require a lot of pulling power in their city runabout tend to opt for petrol engines. After all, cash in your pocket is a great motivator.

Then there’s the perceived notion that petrol or to be more specific, unleaded petrol or that with 10% ethanol is a ‘green’ fuel. Some of you may recall the days when the governments of the world were at great pains to convert the driving masses to unleaded fuels. They said the lead was hurting our environment and to do our bit we should all go green. Of course, petrol, whether it's unleaded or leaded, is still causing harm to the environment, but this idea that unleaded is green is hard to shake. Add to that the fact that petrol this ‘it’s better for the environment than diesel’ aura about it and you can see why it’s the number one fuel on the market.

Diesel

At one point in the not too distant past, we knew diesel as the dirty fuel. Diesel engines produced plumes of black smoke (which was awful for the environment), and cars or utes powered by diesel often sounded like a decade old truck with a bad cough. In short, they were engines for workhorses and tolerated only because we needed them.

Then came the diesel Renaissance when manufacturers invested more time and money into refining diesel technology. As a result, diesel cars became more popular and a lot more comfortable to drive.

These days a diesel car, ute, or SUV is considered a good investment for people that drive a lot. Although the cost upfront is more than that of its petrol counterparts, the diesel car will become more cost efficient over time. And although the prices at the pumps are higher, you get more kilometres per litre than you do with petrol.

Diesels are also good for the working car which is why many buyers of utes and SUVs opt for this fuel type. A diesel engine produces more torque at low revs which is great for someone pulling a heavy load up a hill.

LPG

Once thought to be the next big thing in fuel and the answer to all our prayers, LPG has been pretty much abandoned by car manufacturers and fuel providers. At one time every petrol station had an LPG pump, but now you’ll probably need an app on your phone to locate the nearest one.

It’s hard to argue with the facts; LPG is on the way out so even if you find a bargain on the used car market, it’s probably not worth the hassle. Any savings you do make will likely go towards the added fuels costs of the long trips to the nearest LPG pump.

Hybrid Engines

Okay so while this is not a fuel type, it is an option when buying a car, so we simply have to include it.

The hybrid car consists of two engines; one petrol/diesel and one electric. Both of these engines work in tandem to offer more fuel efficiency and fewer emissions. Often there is no need to charge the electric engine as the kinetic energy generated during braking and decelerating is used to recharge the battery.

Some shy away from such engines feeling that there’s simply too much to go wrong having two separate engines on board. However, the fact is that the technology is quite advanced at this stage with hybrid cars just as reliable as petrol or diesel cars.

The hybrid car is ideally suited to someone that uses their car both in the city and on the highway. The electric engine increases city driving fuel efficiency dramatically while the petrol or diesel engine gives greater range for long journeys. For example, the new Toyota Camry promises efficiency of 5.2L/100km which isn’t too shabby at all.

Electricity

Now we’ve all heard of a certain Elon Musk and the promises he made to deliver the world’s biggest lithium battery right here in Australia, but are we convinced that electricity is the future of cars?

Well, it’s no secret that we Australian’s have enjoyed our love affair with both petrol and diesel engines immensely, but our concerns about the climate mean we are now questioning our preferences. Tesla has been inundated with orders for their new Model 3, and while it may take some time to overtake the Hilux in terms of popularity, it seems that as a nation we’re not averse to the idea of change.

Now depending on your choice of car (you know you want a Tesla), an electric vehicle may cost quite a bit more up front. However, the free charging stations or low-cost home charging and the fact that your electric car will likely hold its value quite well in the current market, mean that the added cost could be worth it.

So which should you choose?

The decision is entirely yours, and of course it’s a very personal one, so we won’t advocate one over another. However, we can offer this advice.

Petrol – For the driver that needs a low-cost option when buying.

Diesel – For the driver that needs some pulling power and uses the vehicle for work.

LPG – We did warn you. Forget this one completely.

Hybrid – For the driver that needs an economical car.

Electric – For the driver that wants a quiet car with zero emissions.

Whichever fuel type you choose just remember that here at Stratton we go all out to secure the best financial package for your new ride. So whether it’s a diesel ute, a petrol run about, or one of those new fancy Tesla’s, contact us now for a free online quote, and we’ll soon have you filling up (or charging) your new car with the fuel of your choice.

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