In the Budget 2017, the government introduced several changes to how diesel cars are taxed and charged on UK roads. These changes, which include tax hikes and new charges for diesel drivers, will come into force from April 2018, and are expected to affect around three million motorists.

But, with a string of similar revisions in recent years, car tax legislation is becoming more confusing, making it difficult for drivers to know exactly what they’ll be paying now and in a couple of years’ time. So, to help you understand the different levels of car tax, here we offer a comprehensive guide to what’s changing for diesel drivers in April 2018, and the steps to take to avoid proposed charges for diesel engines.

What is Changing?

Here, we list the key takeaways you need to know about what’s changing from April 2018:

  • New diesel cars (bought in or following April 2018) will be in a higher tax band than their petrol equivalent in the first year.
  • That means diesel drivers will pay anything from £15 to £520 more to tax their car in the first year of ownership, depending on the car’s CO2 emissions.
  • In the second year, a flat rate of £140 will apply to new diesel and petrol cars.
  • Existing diesel cars are unaffected.

The table below shows how the new diesel tax rate system will work when it’s introduced in April 2018:

CO2 Emissions (g/km)Current First Year Tax RateNew Tax Rate from April
1 – 50£10£25
51 – 75£25£100
76 – 90£100£120
91 – 100£120£140
101 – 110£140£160
111 – 130£160£200
131 – 150£200£500
151 – 170£500£800
171 – 190£800£1,200
191 – 225£1,200£1,700
226 – 255£1,700£2,000

Auto Express

Why Are Diesel Cars Seeing a Tax Increase?

The government is working towards improving air quality and reaching its target of banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and diesel cars have been targeted as an important part of this due to their higher levels of NOx emissions.  These tax changes are intended to discourage drivers from buying diesel cars in favour of petrol or eco-friendly alternatives such as hybrid, hydrogen or LPG Autogas vehicles.

For years diesel cars have been seen as more environmentally-friendly than petrol engines as they emit lower levels of CO2. In fact, the previous government actively encouraged drivers to buy diesel cars to try and lower the country’s CO2 emissions.

However, it’s recently been revealed that CO2 isn’t the problem, and diesel vehicles produce many more harmful particles. Following the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015, it was found that in real-world tests diesel cars create a lot more pollution than similar petrol cars, with the level of nitrogen oxide emitted by diesel engines contributing to around 38,000 premature deaths a year. The VW scandal led to reforms in how diesel emissions are regulated, and a new set of standards called the Euro 6 rating.

New cars which don’t meet the Euro 6 rating face the highest tax hikes from April 2018, with many diesel models stepping up into a higher tax band than the equivalent petrol car if they fail to meet the standard.

According to a report by the Royal College of Physicians, diesel exhaust fumes are among the most toxic of any engine, and pose a serious threat to public health. They’re thought to contain gases and particles including benzene, formaldehyde, sulphate, nitrate and hydrocarbons, which can lead to respiratory issues and have a long-term impact on a person’s health.

While Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) have been introduced to remove harmful particles from diesel fumes, even the cleanest diesel engines are still considered more toxic than petrol – even if they produce the same amount of CO2. So, the cost of running a diesel car will keep increasing as the government tries to tackle pollution and reduce its impact on public health.

What Other Charges do Diesel Drivers Face?

In a bid to improve the country’s air quality, the government has tasked local authorities with finding ways to reduce emissions and pollution in their area. At the moment, as many as 5% of roads outside of London are over the legal pollution limit, so the local authorities need to find ways to make the air cleaner and hit the government’s targets.

One way local authorities are expected to cut toxicity levels is by introducing additional charges, beyond car tax, for diesel cars. Some of the ideas being discussed by councils include parking surcharges, increased parking permits, and a flat rate to drive diesel cars in major cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds – similar to the current congestion charge in London.

As it stands, diesel drivers will face Clean Air Zone charges in Birmingham, Leeds, Derby and Southampton, with a toll of up to £10 a day to drive a diesel car in built-up areas. These charges are expected to be introduced in 2019, and will apply to any diesel car that doesn’t meet the Euro 6 emissions rating.

Currently, the government has around 27 towns and cities across the UK earmarked for tough new regulations on air pollution. This means that many diesel drivers could soon face charges for driving and parking in their local area.

How to Avoid Diesel Taxes and Charges

With tough new measures expected on controlling emissions, motorists should prepare for an increasing number of taxes and charges aimed at discouraging drivers from buying diesel cars. If you’ve got a diesel car at the moment, or you’re thinking of buying one, here are a few tips on how best to avoid current and future diesel fuel charges.

  • Buy a diesel which conforms to Euro 6 – A clean running diesel is less likely to be penalised by new tax rates and charges, both now and in the future.
  • Take advantage of diesel scrappage schemes – If you’d prefer to jump ship and switch to a petrol or hybrid before new tax rates and charges are introduced, now’s the time to do it, with several manufacturers currently offering scrappage schemes for those wanting to get rid of an older diesel car.
  • Avoid driving at peak times – If your local authority area is introducing Clean Air Zones, you may be able to avoid paying diesel charges by avoiding driving at peak times.
  • Avoid driving in built-up areas – While not feasible for some drivers, others can avoid diesel penalty charges by not driving in built-up areas. Whether you cycle to work or jump on the bus, it could pay to keep your car out of town.

Whether you drive a diesel, petrol or hybrid car, Redex can help you improve the performance of your engine with our innovative fuel additives. We also offer DPF Cleaner for new diesel cars, to keep your filter running and avoid costly repairs. For more information, visit the homepage.