| Car Life
a man fills up his car's gas tank
Red or blue? Automatic or manual? Diesel or unleaded engine? You’ve got a lot of decisions to make when it comes to buying a used car, but you may not have considered this last one: should you buy a diesel car? Choosing between a diesel or unleaded vehicle can be important when it comes to fuel economy, maintenance, and engine longevity. In fact, it could be the deciding factor in your search for a new-to-you car!

Is a diesel car right for me?

Diesel engines used to be primarily found in heavy duty trucks and buses, but they’re becoming more and more common in everyday passengers cars across the U.S. In fact, 115,3337 diesels were sold in the U.S. in 2016, and this number doesn’t include many of the domestic heavy duty diesel pickup truck sales where diesel has over 10% of the market share, reports PR Newswire. If you’re thinking of a diesel car, research the brand and model for any recalls or issues.

A diesel car or truck might be the perfect fit for you if…

  • You want improved fuel efficiency. This is one of the main reasons a driver might lean toward diesel, as a diesel car will often get about 20-35% more miles per gallon than the same car with a gasoline-powered engine, says fueleconomy.gov.
  • Fewer stops at the pump sounds great. Increased gas mileage means fewer stops at the gas station!
  • You regularly tow a boat, trailer home, or heavy load. Diesel-powered trucks, SUVs, and cars can generally out-tow their gas-powered counterparts, all while delivering improved mileage. It boils down to how the diesel engine burns fuel and delivers torque (or force) to the driveshaft.
  • You want less car maintenance. Diesel engines don’t have spark plugs or distributors, so in some ways they can require less maintenance. No need for ignition tune-ups!
  • You plan on keeping the same car for a long time. Diesel engines can last a really, really long time. According to the Universal Technical Institute, diesel engines tend to last longer than gas-powered ones—there are some that are a million miles plus motors!

Diesel may not be the best option for you if…

  • Your fuel budget is tight. Diesel fuel can be more expensive than gasoline. If you tend to only buy premium gasoline, you may not notice a big change in your fuel price/gallon if you buy a diesel car. But if you tend to buy the regular unleaded, you might feel a little sticker shock when filling up.
  • There aren’t many gas stations near you. Diesel fuel isn’t available at all gas stations. It’s only available at a little over half of all retail fuel sites in the U.S. Before you buy a diesel vehicle, you may want to check that diesel fuel is conveniently located near your home, work, or school.
  • Routine maintenance is already a hassle for you. Diesel engines need oil changes and filter replacements just like gas engines. While they may require fewer repairs, these repairs can be costly especially if you don’t invest in preventative maintenance. Whichever type of engine you choose, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.
  • Speed and “zippiness” are important. Diesel engines rock at towing heavy loads, but this increase in torque means a decrease in horsepower. You can count on a diesel car to be powerful and long-lasting, not “zippy.”

Start by planning for your costs

One of the most important steps when buying a car is planning for your car insurance costs, and the type of engine you choose could have an impact on this cost. According to Forbes and Money Super Market, diesels can cost more to insure—around 10 to 15% more—than a similar gas car.

Then again, there are many other factors that go into the cost of calculating an insurance rate, including the vehicle’s age, where and how often you drive, your driving record, the type and level of coverage you choose, and how the vehicle is used. Even if your diesel vehicle costs more to insure, these other factors could lower your rate. You never know until you start comparing car insurance quotes. And when you need a quote, Direct Auto is here to help—just call, click, or come in!