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Diesel Hire Car: Diesel vs Petrol – What Are The Differences?

There are a wide variety of different cars and different combinations of features to choose from when you’re looking for a rental car, but there is one very basic difference that divides every vehicle into one of two categories: one that runs on petrol, and another that runs on diesel.

The decision between renting a petrol or diesel car generally depends on economy as well as personal preference.

Once upon a time, diesel cars were nosier and smellier than petrol cars, but nowadays due to newer innovations this is no longer the case and the immediate differences between the two kinds of engines are no longer easy to notice.

The following guide will help you to consider the things you need to when deciding between diesel or petrol.


1. How far are you planning on going?

If you are going on a long trip, then a diesel car might save you a significant amount of money.

Diesel engines tend to get better mileage than petrol engines, or in other words you will get more miles for your gallon out of a diesel engine.

So again, on longer trips you could end up burning considerably less fuel; on shorter trips, however, the difference might not be significant enough to bother with.

2. Type of driving

If you are expecting a long, smooth ride mostly on highways without lots of stopping and starting, then a diesel engine is more ideal. This kind of steady driving goes along well with getting better mileage.

Diesel engines are also more efficient on longer, steadier journeys because it allows the engine to get hot enough to burn off the excess of soot that will builds up on the filter.

If you are expecting more city or town driving with constant starting, stopping, speeding, slowing, veering, etc., then a petrol engine is much more suited to this sort of dynamic driving.

Diesel engines are not as good at handling this kind of driving, and sometimes their filters can clog and work less efficiently under these conditions.

3. The landscape

If you are going to be driving through any areas that will require an extra push from the engine at times, like through snow or up steep hills, then a diesel engine could be more reliable than a petrol engine.

Diesels tend to be tougher in terms of torque, and will feel more solid and handle extra pushes or shoves more easily (although you will have to change gears earlier than you would with a petrol engine).

To summarise the results:

Petrol hire cars are ideal for:

  • shorter trips
  • cities or other environments with lots of starting and stopping

Diesel hire cars are ideal for:

  • Longer trips
  • Highway driving
  • Hilly or snowy terrain that requires an extra push

Once you do choose which engine you want, it is important to make sure you remember to fill the tank with the correct kind of fuel.

If for any reason you are unsure what kind of engine you have and end up not knowing what to do at the gas station, here are some things you can look at to figure it out:

  1. The fuel tank opening on a diesel car generally has a larger diameter than those on petrol cars
  2. Diesel engines have a chunkier sound (more like a tractor) than a petrol engine
  3. You’ll notice driving that you would need to change gears sooner on a diesel than you would on a petrol
  4. Sometimes the fuel tank will have a sticker to tell you which kind of fuel to use.
  5. Your rental agreement will include the fuel type for your rental car

Using the wrong kind of fuel for the wrong kind of engine will stop the car from working altogether, and can cause serious damage to the car, so if you realize you’ve put the wrong kind of fuel please stop the engine immediately.

As innovations in newer cars make the difference in general performance between diesel and petrol cars harder and harder to recognise, the choice of engines should be made according to the driving conditions described above.

If the driving conditions you expect to meet on your trip are not included in the guidelines above, feel free to contact us directly to find out more.

But most importantly, once you do choose your engine, make sure you fill the tank with the right type of fuel or your trip could come to a very sudden stop!

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