With the choice of petrol’s increasing, how do you decide which is the best fuel for your car?
Most petrol stations offer a choice of three types of fuel, with sizeable price differences between them. The main difference between the fuels is their octane rating or Research Octane Number (RON).
The most commonly sold fuels are the unleaded varieties: unleaded (ULP), E10 (ULP with 10 per cent ethanol) premium unleaded (PULP) and ultra-premium unleaded (UPULP). The octane rating relates to the fuel’s ability to resist pre-ignition or “knocking”, which is an uncontrolled explosion of fuel in the cylinder, rather than a controlled burn, which is more efficient. The lower the number, the less resistant the fuel is to pre-ignition.
Put simply, RON determines petrol’s ‘anti-knock’ quality or resistance to pre-ignition.
The Octane Ratings
91 – This is the lowest octane level available. It’s usually the cheapest on a litre by litre basis.
95 – This is the middle child, not the cheapest or the highest octane, just mid-range.
98 – This is the highest octane level available; many argue that for some vehicles this is the most fuel efficient.
The Branded Fuels
Shell V-Power – this comes in 98 only. Shell claims that this was created with the Ferrari Formula 1 team to clean the engine and bring better performance and fuel economy.
BP Ultimate – This also come in 98 only. Like many others it is designed with the cleanliness of the engine, performance and fuel economy.
Caltex Vortex – This comes in 98, 95 and diesel. Its main goal is to clean your engine.
A higher octane rating fuel in a new car can deliver better fuel consumption and engine performance, while additional additives in the premium fuels also help to keep components cleaner and better lubricated. These will all help your engine run more smoothly and last longer.
In older cars however there may be no discernible difference in performance or efficiency, although petrol companies will argue they are better for engine components. It is a common misconception that if you use a high octane fuel your car’s performance will automatically improve and increase. The fact is that you won’t achieve any improved performance from using a higher octane fuel unless your vehicle engine has been designed for it.
If you are in any doubt about what fuel to use, check your owner’s manual to find out what type of fuel your engine is designed for. Fuel with the correct octane number for you vehicle’s engine will eliminate knocking.
All petrol sold in Australia must meet the minimum standard set out in the National Fuel Quality Standards.
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