Service Costs – Diesel Cars vs. Petrol Cars

It is an issue that has been the subject of countless discussions. Which fuel- petrol or diesel- gives a better return on investment? Analyzing the service costs of each, here is an attempt to clear the air.

Though diesel engines were once considered to be too heavy, bulky, powerless and too expensive for everyday use compared to petrol engines, clever and innovative use of technology has put them right back on terms. Today’s diesel engines typically deliver better performance than before, offer excellent mileage, and as such are indubitably considered to be a part of the big league of vehicle engines.

The question that remains, though, is how easy are diesel engines on the pocket? It’s a known fact that diesel variants usually cost about Rs 1 lac more than the petrol versions of the same car. So apart from the mileage, the service costs have been the bone of contention when it comes to deciding between petrol and diesel.

Coming to service costs, these for diesel engines have usually been statistically higher than for petrol engines. Though this undeniably varies with regard to usage and how frequently the engine is run, as per the norm service costs of diesel engines run to about 20-30% more than for petrol engines. Apart from what you actually pay at the maintenance garage, there are a few other factors that affect the verdict.

First up, the excise duty on diesel is lower than for petrol. Next, thanks to their lower emission, better fuel efficiency, and healthy low to mid range performance, diesel engines require less servicing than petrol engines over a given duration, in other words, diesel powerplants usually make for longer intervals between services, compared to petrol engines. (This, of course, comes at the cost of lower brake horsepower than a petrol engine of similar class.) These two factors seem to tip the scales once again in favor of diesel engines, as far as economizing on running and servicing cost is concerned. Third, whether or not the lower after-sale costs make up for the higher price of a diesel car is influenced by how long the car is used before being sold off again, with longer running time (that is, a bigger number on the odometer) obviously corresponding to better savings, compared to a petrol car driven the same distance. Lastly, going by the current trend, resale value of diesel cars stands higher than petrol cars, with more and more customers keen on diesel owing to the mileage factor.

So finally, diesel cars seem to have the upper hand when it comes to saving on service cost, especially for long-term usage. While petrol engines might be preferable for cars that are not intended to be used for more than 3 years, diesel engines promise better return on investment in the long run.

-by Abhishek Neeli

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