Petrol v Diesel

The never ending argument … the petrol versus diesel debate.

This old campfire argument has been going on for years and will probably never let up. Everyone has their own opinions and reasons for choosing what they buy. Well for now they do.

That is unless the influential parties with reasons to gain from limited choice have their way.

It is interesting that one of the things we’ve notice over the last few years is the increasing demand for modern diesel engine rebuild kits. There has been a resurgence in demand as modern engines start to fail with less kilometres travelled than my pushbike.

Most 4WDers are aware of the hand-grenades Nissan brought out in the early 2000’s with their 3.0L Renault motor, but the Hilux/Prado D4D is also causing serious grief, and even the Landcruiser V8 twin turbo engine rebuild kits are selling faster than spark plugs for my old 1FZ-FE engine. What has the industry done when some of the early diesel engines like the venerable 1HZ and TD42’s are still running original glow plugs.

Here’s my opinion … our European mates have stuffed us all up.
They’ve have been running around in diesel Citroens, Renaults and Golfs for years, smogging up their beautiful cities. Diesel fuel ‘was’ dirt cheap which drove their preference to these slow but economical buzz-boxes. The black diesel smoke have driven their authorities to imposing strict rules on emissions that manufacturers are simply struggling to meet. They have essentially tweaked, tuned and turbocharged these smaller and smaller engines to within an inch of their life before releasing them across the world. However our larger spaces and lower fuel consumption volumes at some fuel outlets mean risk of contamination is higher as is resultant engine failure.
But we are a bit different here in Australia, we don’t have major towns within 30kms of each other, ours are about 300kms apart.
We lug big our 4WD’s and heavy loads for thousands of kilometres on holidays.

Old schoolers will swear by diesels for crossing rivers without concern, but times have changed, this is no longer the case with modern diesel engines covered in electronics and wiring just as susceptible to water as spark plugs are.

Plus roads and even tracks are much better than they were even 20 years ago.
So you can throw that argument out.

Car manufacturers, oil companies and associated big industry players are eyeing off a lucrative future of servicing high tech diesel engines that are now more complicated than most petrol engines. Its almost turned a full 180 degrees. Even the motoring clubs and insurers are pushing the diesel option in their surveys and tests. A small comparo dug up off the interweb shows the real operating cost differences are minimal. But not when it comes to repairs and this is something car manufacturers, dealerships and motoring authorities are not telling the public.

The current cost of repairing a modern diesel engine is horrendous, and isn’t going to decrease.

So one has to wonder if the V6 petrol powered utes and V8 petrol powered wagons are actually going to start finding themselves higher up on the shopping lists. Nissan have seen new car sale prices of their Y62 Patrols vary considerably but don’t be surprised to see the petrol engine 4WD’s start to gain favour as diesel owners get sick and tired of the reliability and cost issues being found with this new breed of high tech, extreme tolerance diesel engines.

Cheers, Chris Blakemore


This article was originally posted by Australia On Track.


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Comments 23

  1. Well done Chris great article anyone who truly researchs modern diesel issues and the cost to repair them would not even consider them but unfortunately most 4×4 journalists back there magazine sponsors even if it means flogging a dead horse

  2. Good to see word is getting out. Ive had a number of diesels and petrol 4x4s. Water xings havnt been an issue for petrol motors in years. My 1st 4.5lt GU in 2000 never had problems. So not sure why people still think that way.
    As for reliability, none of my diesels have been as good as the petrol 4x4s. Ive had 2 4.5lt GUs, even a v6 Jakaroo, plus the 2.8lt and 3.0lt GU and 4.2lt work ute diesels.
    The new y62 is by far the best 4×4 ive had. Its way more capable out of the box then the GU and even mod for mod its a step up. Plus no common issues with the vk56 5.6lt petty v8 thays been around for well over 10 years now.
    New tech in these engines gives it comparable economy to the ttd cruisers with 25k less purchase price (toyota tax).
    So any1 still spouting dribble about petrols being gas gusslers havnt seen these new y62s. Sure when u use all 400 hp it will use more. But drive normal driving sees awsome figures like 10lts/100 on hwy, my avg is 15.6lts/100 since new and at 70k kms doing about 20k of those kms offroad and remote touring, u cant really complain.
    I say good bye to modern diesels.

    1. All I can say is to each their own and that’s why I’ll stick to my Range Rover V8 Sport 2008 Diesel, not a damn bloody problem so far (touch wood).
      I’m old school and I will gladly stick to it.

  3. I have heard recently from a trucker that the Government has had sulphur removed from diesel fuel in Australia. This he believes has caused the problems with modern diesel motors mainly injectors failing. I tow a caravan and drive a 3.0 litre diesel, and over the years have found that in our very hot climate that there is only one motor type that can handle large towing loads with constant heat and keep the comfort that we all expect now days i.e. the air conditioner on and that is a diesel motor. Petrol motors towing in 40 plus degree temperature days are prone to over heating or only running without the air conditioning working.

    1. For towing Desiel are far better yes.
      Does not change the fact that new modern Desiel suck .
      If you want to tow heavy loads small modern 4 cylinder Desiel Are not the best .An older pre common rail Desiel would be the best bet.for those of us that don’t tow much I’d prefer to spend more on fuel and get a reliable petrol
      Prado 4 litre great reliability
      Y62 v8 great reliability

  4. maintenance is the main issue with any vehicle. but here in Australia out main problem is our fuel quality.
    but future is going to be electric

  5. This Article is well written, no doubt it hurts the Diesel loving brigade to read it as the truth often hurts.
    Pollution control measures really have taken their toll on our reliability of Diesel engines, however the technology advancement in modern petrol engines has really removed the shortfalls as why we all switched to diesel in the first place. Economy for one is closer now than it ever has been before, water crossing is no longer an issue and engine life… well maybe the table has turned on this one!

  6. Mate that’s just wildly incorrect. Go and do some research and try again, actually talk to real people doing exactly that, I lived and toured the Pilbara for 6 years and a petrol 4×4 was the best I ever owned. Gets a bit warm up there in case you’re not aware. Also consider that the middle east is also an extremely hot climate, guess what engines 90% of 4x4s there use….petrols.

  7. Agreed, and on topic with the article which is going to react poorly to bad fuel…I had to get a flat bed from karijini national Park to Tom price in my diesel D40 due to poor fuel, red engine light came on and I went no further, I was considered lucky that I only had to fork out a grand to have the entire fuel system flushed, poor fuel in a petrol? It might ping? Most modern ECU’s can detect poor fuel and wind back timing etc to compensate and preserve the engine, you can keep a couple bottles of octane booster in the car, you’ll keep moving though, reliably.

  8. After owning 2 Transit van diesels with Bolt on fuel injectors I liked early diesels. But then moving to Australia we owned a short lived Holden Jackaroo diesel, which broke down twice in a week only to be told diesel fuel was getting into the engine oil. No garage would touch it, so we had to take it to a Holden dealer.
    We had new fuel injectors at a cost of $5500 replaced with the engine still making a banging noise. After months of stress, VCAT claim on Holden and selling the Jackeroo for peanuts, We bought a Toyota Prado 4.0L petrol. Its costs more to run than a diesel but if it breaks down we know it will be cheaper than a diesel.

  9. Most of you are correct the modern day diesel a not as bush reliable as they were my personal choice is old school diesel hance I can fix most things my self the diesel petrol debate well that can go on for ever I keep diesel be cause I can carry a hell of a lot more safely I do a lot of remote trips

  10. I currently drive a Chevy Silverado 2014 diesel.
    I am looking at the Ford F-150 3.5ltr twin turbo petrol.
    I pull a 3,500kg van.
    Cleary the Chev or F250 diesel is awesome for towing but when we get there, they are so big to explore in!
    Any thoughts on the petrol F150 as a General day to day vehicle and somtimes long distance tow vehicle.

  11. I have a BT50 that the EGR was getting clogged leaked coolant, the intercooler leaked, this thing cost a lot of money to keep going, the modern diesel or to expensive to repair to buy and own, my next car will be a large petrol 4×4 ,when it does go it great to tow a caravan, but it’s only got just over 100000 ,and the money I have spent to keep it going is ridiculous.

  12. Hi all. I have owned a 2006 petrol v6 4.0L 1grfe Hilux single cab 2×4 manual since 2010. I bought it at 140k kms. Nearly every day I was towing my work trailer which weight 1.8t. I also have this engine on lpg. The engine has now done 400k kms and all I had to do to it was get the heads done cause the lpg burnt the valves. Not the engine fault. My fault. I have put this engine through hell and back. I’ve towed 3+ tonne with this Ute many times and it’s still going strong. I have recently purchased a second hand 2006 dual cab Hilux 4×4 and I have installed the same engine but with the TRD supercharger. I have also installed lpg to the car. The reason I went petrol over diesel is purely for reliability. I’ve got mate who went diesel and have had major expensive repairs. My brother is a machanic and he is constantly telling me of the amount of issues with all diesel make and models. So yes to each there own I agree but for me a petrol engine is just cheaper to fix IF anything went wrong. So far I’ve never had an issue with my v6 engine. I hope this can help anyone make up there mind of undecided on what to get.

  13. I`m currently shopping for a new 4×4 and my research on all makes frightens me. Is there any petrol engine available in any of our current 4×4`s that is capable towing 2.5- 3 ton? not concerned about fuel ecomomy….I just want a 4×4 that will last me more than 100,000ks without giving me grief. Any suggestions will be much appreciated!!

    1. Hi Paul,
      That depends on whether you are after a Wagon or a Ute?

      The Nissan Patrol only comes in a Petrol and I’m pretty sure it has a 3.5 tonne braked capacity. I believe Toyota just stopped doing a Petrol motor in the 200 series.

      In Utes, There is a Petrol option in the Dodge Ram.

      There aren’t many other petrol’s on the market that immediately come to mind…

  14. I bought a 3.4 V6 Petrol Prado in 1998. Its still going strong now in 2020, has done 270,000km. Never missed a beat, never broke down and Ive done all servicing myself since 2003. Under the bonnet has just had normal maintenance items replaced (oils, belts, filters etc). I’m going to keep it till the engine is worn out (should be good for 500,000 km from what Ive seen).
    Then I bought a new 3.2 diesel Ranger in 2016 to take over towing duties from the Prado. In 2019 the engine died (at 30,000km). Ford replaced it under warranty. They had 5 to do before mine. That’s 6 Rangers in one dealership at the same time needing new engines !
    I sold the Ranger and got a petrol Patrol Y62. Awesome vehicle. Pollution controls have killed diesels. They use systems that can kill the engine (eg leaking water into combustion chamber via EGR cooler) DPF’s clog and dilute the oil with diesel. The motors are getting smaller to meet emissions targets and becoming more stressed as a result, They run turbos and high pressure common rail (up to 36,000 PSI !) which have added to the things that can and do fail. Injectors cost a bomb and get rooted by dirt, water etc and then might burn a hole in a piston. Most dealers get one a week that have been filled with petrol which causes a lot of damage (and $). A petrol engine with some diesel in it would probably just run rough. Only issues I have heard with the petrol Patrol is sometimes the catalytic converters might possibly need replacing around 100,000km. Also the high pressure fuel pump may need replacing around the same time – yes its direct injection like the diesels – but runs at 1/14th the pressure.

    1. I too had been a long term fan of diesel motors after owning a GU Patrol with the trusty 4.2 diesel for 17 years before I recently upgraded to petrol. The pollution challenges with modern diesel motors makes then much less reliable then the original design was intended. I did look at the Isuzu MUX as I think Isuzu have the most reliable diesel on the market today, but it was just not big enough for my family needs. So it was off to Nissan for a new petrol Y62 Patrol. To say I’m impressed with the motor in this car is an understatement. Yes it uses more fuel around town, about 18l/100km, but on the highway I’m getting around 11l/100km which is better than the old 4.2 diesel Patrol and towing a 2T van I get the same economy as my mates diesel 200 series Landcruiser. I’m now a petrol convert.

  15. Hi,
    I’m looking to get a Hilux and singled upon this thread, all very interesting and possibly changed my mind on petrol vs diesel.
    Several people mentioned “old” diesels are good and modern are bad, what counts as old? One of the cars I’ve looked at is a 2002 Hilux 3l Turbo diesel manual, would you say that’s a good or bad diesel?

    I’ve also looked at a 2008 4l V6 petrol manual Hilux. The low range, under 500km on one tank full does concern me a bit.

    Which would you prefer?
    Or would you recommend a different engine altogether?

    Many thanks

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