Bakkies are among the most popular cars in South Africa. In the first quarter of 2019, the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger ranked 3rd and 4th respectively on the list of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles, and 1st and 2nd within the bakkie category.
Traditionally, diesel bakkies have epitomised all the best qualities of the bakkie. They’ve delivered durability, toughness and functionality ideal for tough South African road conditions.
However, the introduction of delicate rail injector systems into new diesel vehicles has dented the diesel bakkie’s formidable reputation as a resilient workhorse.
With this in mind, we take a look at the main points you should consider when weighing the purchase of a new diesel bakkie against a petrol bakkie.
Cost of diesel vs. petrol bakkies
Diesel bakkies typically cost more than petrol vehicles when purchased new. For example, a new Toyota Hilux Double Cab with a diesel engine costs around 10% more than the petrol equivalent.
Diesel bakkies are also more expensive on the second hand market, as petrol bakkies not only have a lower book value but also depreciate at a faster rate.
Hidden engine problems are also an issue to keep in mind when considering buying a second-hand diesel bakkie.
Diesel engines are more complex and expensive to repair than petrol engines. Also, potentially expensive problems can therefore be harder to detect when buying second hand.
Bakkie fuel consumption
Fuel efficiency has always been one of the main attractions of owning a diesel bakkie. Diesel engines are more efficient than petrol alternatives. They deliver more mileage per tank of fuel.
When it comes to costs at the fuel pump, diesel bakkies are also a clear winner. In South Africa, diesel is a rand or two cheaper per litre than petrol.
Bakkie durability and maintenance
The durability of diesel engines is legendary, with some Mercedes Benz diesel models claimed to have clicked over a million kilometres on their original engine.
However, this reputation for durability has taken a knock over recent years with the introduction of common rail fuel injection systems into new diesel vehicles.
These systems were introduced to provide improved fuel consumption, more power, lower emissions and a reduction in cabin noise and vibration.
To achieve these performance improvements, common rail systems operate at very high temperatures and pressures. Unfortunately, this makes them very sensitive. For example, they’re prone to blockage due to even very small amounts of contaminant in fuel.
By contrast petrol bakkies make use of engines that make use of more established, less delicate, engine technologies, which means it’s possible you’ll experience fewer unpleasant (and expensive) surprises.
Performance of diesel vs petrol bakkies
It’s important to consider what you want to use your bakkie for when evaluating whether a petrol or diesel model is the best option for you.
Diesel bakkies deliver more raw power and torque than petrol equivalents. They’re built to carry and pull heavy loads, handle challenging road conditions and travel long distances.
By contrast, a petrol bakkie is more suited to light loads and typical urban driving conditions. Petrol engines generally also provide better acceleration and faster speeds.
Comfort of diesel vs petrol bakkies
Diesel engines have a tendency to generate more vibration than petrol engines. They may feel gravelly and generate excessive noise when fuel levels are low.
The newer common rail injection systems have reduced engine shudder. However, diesel vehicle are still noisier, and more likely to generate cabin vibrations, than petrol engines.
You can expect a smoother, more comfortable driving experience when driving a petrol bakkie.
The difference in comfort between diesel and petrol bakkies is offset to some extent by manufacturers. You tend to find better trim levels and cabin finishes on diesel bakkies. Petrol models are more often marketed as stripped-down, entry-level bakkies.
JEG Diesel are the experts in diesel bakkie repairs and maintenance. We repair diesel fuel injectors, pumps and turbochargers for the widest range of diesel bakkie makes and models.