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What is all the fuss around diesel cars?

What is all the fuss around diesel cars?

Saffron Wilson

Saffron Wilson

  • 12 June, 2020
  • 5 min read

Diesel has been hitting the headlines a lot lately, and it's come across as anything but good.

And we know that trying to find out every bit of info about every single change will take a while to find around the internet. Hopefully, we’ve covered most of it for you -

If not, send us a message over social media and we’ll do our best to get it added:

The new tax bands

The table below is straight from the government website and applies to cars that are registered after 1st April 2017 for the first year after registration (so don’t worry if you have an older diesel – this won’t apply to you!)

When you compare that to the tax rates of cars registered from 1st March 2001 and 31st March 2017 – it’s quite a difference.

The table below comes into force on the second year after the car is registered. This will be the tax rate onwards:

And if the brand new car is over £40k… (this includes cars that have no emissions such as Tesla’s) and applies for 5 years on top of the standard tax rate!

But, the new changes are mainly due to the NOx (nitrous oxide) emissions. So, if it’s proven that the car doesn’t emit the NOx limits, then they should be exempt from these tax prices, and that’s where the RDE comes in.


Although tax prices used to be based solely on CO2 emissions, there’s been an increasing awareness of NOx emissions and other harmful compounds. The RDE and RDE2 (real driving emissions step 2) have come into force to battle pollution as a result of these harmful substances.

RDE is the first stage of monitoring emissions on the road (i.e not in a laboratory). It means that car manufacturers will have to ensure that their vehicles NOx emissions are equal to or under the government guidelines by September 2019.

RDE2 is – you guessed it - the next stage. The NOx limits will be lower when testing on a road and the motors that pass these tests will be subject to the first column of tax – which is an incredible discount really.

Just be aware, currently (again, this will change) manufacturers don’t have to undergo the RDE2 test. As long as their vehicles pass the laboratory tests, they can be shipped off to the dealerships. It will be mandatory for all cars by January 2021.

Now that really is taxing.

So what’s happening in London?

When trying to go through the stack of info on the government website, it’s no wonder that people don’t understand where they can and can’t go in their diesel cars.

We’ll put it this way – technically (at the time when this is written), you’re not banned from the centre of London, but it may cost you a small fortune to drive there.

If your car is petrol or diesel and has a pre-euro 4 engine (these tend to be cars registered before 2005) you’ll have to pay a £10 toxicity or ‘T’ charge on top of the £11.50 congestion charge.

That being said, the newer diesel cars without that type of engine won’t be subjected to the increased charges.

The diesel ban in London

Currently, you can still drive your diesel car in London, but there are some specific areas that have completely banned diesel vehicles during peak hours of the day as they are “ultra-low emission zones.”

In Zone 1 (be aware this isn’t an exhaustive list)

  • Blackall street
  • Paul street
  • Willow street
  • Singer street
  • Cowper street
  • Ravev street
  • Tabernacle street

In Zone 2 (be aware this isn’t an exhaustive list)

  • Charlotte road
  • Rivington street

For all the info – check out this link:

The diesel car ban

The government is planning to ban selling exclusively petrol or diesel cars in the UK by 2040. But with the efforts that they are going to dissuade drivers from going into cities, a large amount of the population may think about hanging up the diesel’s fuzzy dice a little earlier.

But, if you don’t tend to drive through cities and instead are doing long miles on the motorway, you’re still going to get much better fuel efficiency in your diesel car. Which, may in total, even counter-act the inflated tax price depending how many miles you are doing.

So, make the most of the last 22 years with your carbon combustible companion. If you can’t afford yourself a hybrid yet, then there really is no rush.

Saying that, be mindful that clean air areas, parking rates and other fees are starting to be introduced in small areas throughout the country which will in turn, penalise diesel cars more than others as these places become more common.

The U-Turn on diesel

So how is that fair?

We know that the government backed diesel cars 110% back in the 90’s. This was due to the Kyoto agreement which meant the UK had to cut greenhouse gases – especially CO2 - by an eighth by 2012.

This meant that diesel was perfect! Low CO2 emissions meant the agreement could be upheld, and until the discovery of the harmful effects of NOx along with the VW scandal, diesel seemed to be the answer to our pollution problems.

But, under the new government, the reality of other toxins from diesel cars were discovered. As a result, the leaders of the country have had to take a massive u-turn in order to try and reduce these harmful pollutants.

Let’s boil it down

We understand that was a lot of information – so here are the top tips:

  • The new tax changes are only for diesel cars registered after April 2018
  • NOx is found to be a pollutant from diesel engines which is very harmful to the environment
  • RDE2 stands for the second stage of real driving emissions – this is for NOx emissions
  • Diesel isn’t banned from all of London yet, but will cost you a small fortune to drive into
  • Small areas in London have banned diesel cars only during peak hours in “ultra-low emission zones”
  • By 2040, the government has said that completely petrol and diesel vehicles will not be sold

Click here to see our range of second hand diesel cars for sale