Diesel vs Gas: What's Better for Your Trip?



Vroom vroom vroom...Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! Today’s topic is an unusual but important one to know about if you plan on driving in Iceland. Depending on where you’re from or the kind of vehicle you have, you might be used to topping up with one type of fuel or the other. But the difference between diesel vs gas goes beyond what you put into your car. It actually ventures into the territory of how your engine works and much more, so let’s learn about the difference between diesel and gas.


In some countries, like the United States, your car is likely to be gas powered. If, however you live somewhere like Europe, it’s probable that you fill up your tank with diesel fuel.

The Importance of Using the Right Type of Fuel


Public Service Announcement: I want to cover this topic first before we dive into the world of diesel fuel vs gasoline. It’s something very simple that can take a lot of money out of your pocket if you don’t do it correctly. I don’t want to scare you, but to be honest, the repercussions are a little scary. My PSA is this: gasoline and diesel are not interchangeable.


I can’t tell you how many people have come to Iceland on holiday, and without thinking about it, filled up their diesel engine with gas or vice versa. It ended up costing them thousands to repair, and I guarantee you that they were not happy about it.


If by chance you do happen to put the wrong type of gas into your tank, be prepared to pay a pretty penny. Or perhaps I should say krona. If you put gasoline into a diesel car, the cost of repairing the motor will set you back the equivalent of five thousand euros. On the contrary, if you put diesel instead of gas into a gas motor car, you’re looking at five hundred to one thousand euros being deducted from your bank account or charged to your credit card.



What You Need to Do


If I can give you one piece of advice about driving in Iceland, it has nothing to do with road conditions or layering for the weather. It’s to make sure you always put the correct type of fuel into your car. I repeat: When it comes to gasoline versus diesel, always be careful.


Whether you drive a compact car, a pickup truck, or a gas-guzzling SUV, always check that you are using the correct type of fuel. Even the engines of mighty diesel trucks and gas trucks can easily be damaged with the wrong kind of fuel. And damage to the engine is extremely expensive to fix and won’t be covered by your rental insurance.


What’s the Difference Between Diesel and Gas?


I’ll spare you the technical mumbo jumbo of diesel vs gas engines. I’ve already terrified you sufficiently with tales of damaging your motor by using the wrong type of fuel. I’m 99% sure that talk of pistons, cylinders, throttles, spark plugs, fuel injectors, maintenance costs, chemical composition, and internal combustion will only send you running for the hills screaming. After all, you just want to know the best car rental for your trip, am I right? We’ll leave the rest to mechanics.


Let me break it down simply so it’s nice and easy for you. The main takeaway is that a gasoline vehicle and a diesel vehicle each have a different engine type. Because gas and diesel engines operate in a specific way, they each require a specific fuel. And the differences affect everything from performance to fuel efficiency to when you change the oil. That wasn’t too complicated or painful, right?


Ok, now that I’ve either gotten you quaking in your boots at the prospect of using the wrong fuel for your engine or bored out of your mind when thinking about engines (or both), let’s move on to more fun topics! We’ve got fuel efficiency, gasoline discount cards, and other factors for saving money. Yay!


Pros and Cons of Gas vs. Diesel


So which are better, gasoline engines or diesel engines? There are a few things to keep in mind when weighing your options. We’ll cover fuel efficiency and consumption, gas prices, and environmental impact.


Fuel Efficiency and Mileage


One of the biggest advantages of diesel vehicles is that they get somewhat better mileage. While the difference in fuel economy in places like the US is a whopping 30-35%, in Europe we have higher fuel efficiency standards. In Iceland, diesel beats out gasoline by only about 10-15% on the highway. Plus you’ll also be driving in a lot of small little towns and villages. Due to slower speeds in these areas, the difference between the two is negligible.



This slightly higher level of fuel efficiency awards a small point in favor of diesel in the great gas vs diesel debate. As far as the better choice for you as a driver on an Iceland road trip, diesel and gasoline usually end up even.


Please note that your rental company can give you a diesel car even if you’ve reserved a model with a gas engine and vice versa.


What’s the Environmental Impact of Diesel vs Gasoline?


One of the disadvantages of driving a diesel-powered automobile is its impact on the environment. Unfortunately, hybrid vehicles aren’t always an option, and many of us still drive fuel-powered cars. And with higher emissions, diesel is worse for the environment than gasoline. This is a huge drawback for many people visiting Iceland, as environmental awareness and conservation are on everyone’s mind. People come to enjoy our nature and the clean, crisp air, not choke on a cloud of smoke!


When choosing between diesel or gas, this time gasoline wins.


Diesel vs Gas Prices in Iceland


In some countries, there’s quite a difference in gas prices, but that’s not the case in Iceland. The fuel cost to fill up your car is pretty much the same for gasoline vs diesel.

If you’d like to see the difference in costs for your own personal fuel calculator, please take a look at this website which shows gas and diesel prices in Iceland. Prices are in Icelandic krona, with dollars and euros currently hovering between 125-135 krona. With this side-by-side comparison, you’ll notice that the price of diesel vs the price of gas is only incrementally lower.


Unlike our friends in America, we use liters instead of gallons to measure liquids. So remember that when looking at the diesel option, our diesel vs gas prices are in liters. A gallon is around 3.8 liters, so multiply the price of a liter by 3.8 to get the price in gallons.

Your Mother Was Right: Follow the Speed Limit


There’s also something else I want to mention. You’ll often hear people saying to follow the speed limit in Iceland. This is usually done for safety’s sake, but you’ll also have another bonus. Going slower means your car consumes less fuel. Many people aren’t aware, but even a difference between following Iceland’s speed limit of 80-90 km/h (50-55 mph) or going 20 km/h (12 mph) faster can make a huge difference.


Driving quickly burns up your fuel rapidly, so slowing down is another way of lowering your fuel costs. You’ll get more bang for your buck by decreasing fuel consumption per kilometer.



Show Me the Money-Saving Gasoline Discount Card


Speaking of saving money, here’s a non-diesel-vs gasoline-related travel tip for you. Icelandic car rental companies (and Icelanders in general), are very kind and generous. They know your road trip is going to be a bit pricey, and they want to help in any way they can.


Many rental companies offer a gas discount count, so be sure to enquire about it when booking your rental. And there’s also a delightful little surprise waiting for you. Many gas stations in Iceland provide you with a free cup of coffee when you present this card. See? I told you we were nice.


Diesel vs Gas: What's the Better Choice for Your Trip?


When it comes to weighing your options for car rental in Iceland, it’s about more than just specs or whether or not you should get a 4x4 SUV for the Highlands. The cost of fuel will make up a big part of your budget, so it’s important to know the benefits and drawbacks of gas or diesel. You’ve gotten a mini-education today, and if you have any further questions, we’d love to hear from you.


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