Wednesday 3 April 2019

What kind of fuel should I use for my car?

What kind of fuel should I use for my car?

This is actually an important question as its possible to cause some quite serious damage to a car engine should you fill up with the wrong fuel. It can be a bit perplexing when you drive into a service station and suddenly be confronted by a variety of several different fuel types.  However, there are some simple things you can do to find out which fuel to fill your car with.

First of all, the type of fuel will depend on what kind of car you own.  If your car has a diesel engine, there is just basically one choice, diesel – don’t fill with petrol.

Otherwise, your car will run on petrol, and there are a few varieties here rated by level of refinement, or octane level.  Most cars, including the top 10 most
popular cars in Australia, will run on standard unleaded 91RON (research octane number) petrol. Some of these cars will also run on E10 fuel, which contains a blend of octane 91 petrol and 10% ethanol.

Premium or more highly refined fuels 95RON and 98RON are more refined and suited for high performance engines, most requiring 98RON petrol. The Nissan Juke, which was apparently modelled on a Coca-Cola bottle, requires a minimum of 95RON fuel. However, owners may be filling up with 98RON as fewer service stations offer the slightly less refined 95RON fuel. Late model turbo-charged cars such as Porsche are likely to require 98RON fuel.

Now, here are some tips to find out which fuel to look for. Open the fuel cap and there should be a label on the lid telling you which fuel to use.  Other ways to find out which fuel to use is to look up the owner’s manual, assuming there is one in the glove box, call the local dealer of the vehicle you are driving, ask a friend who drives the same type of vehicle, or perhaps consult google to find the correct fuel.

Let’s assume it’s written on the inside of the fuel cap lid. If it says “Diesel Fuel Only”, the search for the bowser should be relatively easy, fill. Just remember to fill it with diesel, not petrol.  However, 80% of cars in Australia run on petrol, so it’s quite likely that you will see “Unleaded fuel only”, or “Ethanol E10 Fuel Suitable”.  Either way, you can fill these cars with unleaded octane 91 petrol – this is the standard unleaded petrol.  E10 suitable allows you the option of filling with E10.  Vehicles using premium fuels only will have “Premium Fuel Only” or the actual octane rating, 95 or 98, written on the filler cap lid.

Premium 98RON fuels may have some interesting names such as BP Ultimate, Caltex Vortex or Shell V-Power.  The petrol however, is all sourced from the same oil refinery.

While some luxury or high-performance vehicles can only run efficiently on 95 or 98, but not standard 91 rated fuel, it’s possible for vehicles that normally run on 91 standard unleaded fuel to run on cleaner more refined premium fuels.

There may be a couple of advantages with 95 or 98 fuel even if your vehicle is capable of running on 91 fuel – running a car on a more expensive higher-octane fuel will cause no harm.  Firstly, for some vehicles, you may find the vehicle may run further distances before you need to stop and re-fill the tank.  A quick way to find out – fill the tank with 98 and check it out for yourself.  Secondly, a premium high-octane fuel can help clean the engine - standard 91RON fuel is a less refined fuel and contains a higher amount of sulphur.  For example, engine knocking, a noise such as a pinging or rattling noise usually at low revs but under acceleration, can be caused by dirty fuel or from a build-up of sediment in the fuel supply.  Filling up with 98RON fuel will quickly fix this problem.

Below is a summary of the different grades of petrol commonly available in Australia.


·     Cheapest fuel
·     Supports ethanol (sugar) industry
·     Less economy
·     Compatibility may be a problem with some vehicles

·     Most common fuel used
·     10 most popular vehicles can run on this fuel
·     Cheaper than 95RON & 98RON
·     Least refined fuel

·     Good mid-range fuel
·     Some high-performance vehicles can run on it
·     Slightly more expensive than 91RON
·     Very few service stations sell 95RON

·     Ultimate performance 
·     Most high-performance vehicles require 98RON
·     Can clean engine, injectors etc
·     Cleanest, but most expensive fuel

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