Which Type of Fuel Should I Use in My Car?
- on July 30, 2020
- Categories: Car Feature Articles
So, you have purchased a new car and are on a fuel station for a refill. I am sure you will be confused on deciding the type of fuel your car can use. Of course, you would understand major fuel types such as Petrol, Diesel, and LPG, but do you know the ratings of these fuel types and which one would work best in your vehicle.
In the following brief guide, I'll explain the different fuel types and how to make sure you're using the correct one for your car.
Petrol and Octane Ratings
The majority of vehicles manufactured after 1986 use Unleaded Petrol (ULP). Octane ratings, or the grades of petrol, describe how resistant the petrol is to pre-ignition. The Research Octane Number (RON) indicates the grade of petrol:
- RON of 91 to 93 means standard unleaded petrol.
- 95 RON is Premium Unleaded Petrol (PULP), which fulfills high-octane requirements and ensures knock-free operation.
- 98 RON is another premium option common for high-performance vehicles.
The higher the octane rating, the more it will cost. Therefore, ensure you are using a premium version of fuel only if your car necessitates it.
Can Using an Incorrect Octane Number Harm Your Car?
Damaging your car engine from the wrong octane number is highly likely, but not always. For instance, using an octane number lower than required will give you reduced gas mileage, produce slightly less engine power, and can be potentially destructive. On the other hand, using a higher than recommended octane rating may give a better economy or performance, but you won’t see much difference. Therefore, you'll simply be wasting money on buying more expensive fuel.
Standard and Premium Diesel
At most major pumps in Australia, you’ll spot standard and premium diesel options. Premium diesel might have a different name at different stations, such as Shell’s “V-Power” diesel. Premium diesel types only contain extra cleaning agents that keep your engine’s system clean.
Diesel fuel tends to offer a better fuel economy, given that Diesel engines are usually very efficient. If properly maintained and tuned, these engines emit minimal amounts of carbon monoxide and exhaust hydrocarbons. Choosing between Standard and Premium is totally up to you. Use both and decide which one gives you a better drive.
Other Fuel Types
Ethanol, made from renewable resources, is a natural budget-friendly fuel option usually mixed with petroleum-based unleaded fuels. Pure ethanol or “neat ethanol” is denoted as E100. Ethanol is commonly included as an additive in standard petrol, but rarely exceeds a total of 10 percent. Many vehicles can run on E5 or E10 but read your vehicle manual to find out if your vehicle can use ethanol fuels. Most of the cars in Australia using 91 RON can use E10. Find E10 compatibility here.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a cheaper fuel that consists of 50 percent or more propane and butane. LPG, however, offers a poor fuel economy as compared to other fuels and is not very common. Usually, petrol cars are modified to support LPG.
Manufactured from vegetable oil, biodiesel is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly fuel type denoted by BD. The number after BD depicts the percentage of biodiesel and petroleum-based diesel. For example, BD20 means it is made of 20 percent biodiesel, and the remaining 80 is petrol. Generally, your vehicle’s manual tells if your car’s engine requires biodiesel, and it will indicate the grade as well.
Determining Which Fuel Your Car Requires
Knowing which fuel is most suitable for your car is essential. Not only can the wrong fuel type stop your engine from running, but it can also cause significant internal damage, ultimately resulting in expensive repairs.
Here are some tips to make sure you’re pumping the right fuel in your vehicle:
- Open your car’s fuel door and check inside of the door or near the fuel filler neck for a label. It will indicate whether your vehicle requires diesel, gasoline, or anything else.
- If you can’t find this label or it is unreadable, check your car’s instrument cluster. Usually, if your vehicle is anything other than gasoline-powered, you’ll find an indication there.
- Whether you can’t find a label, or you want more details regarding your vehicle’s fuel rating, look for the info inside the owner’s manual.
- Calling the manufacturer's support line and talking to an agent is also helpful for determining the best fuel for your car.