What Fuel Type Should I Prefer?

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There are so many different types of vehicles on the road, and so many variations in engine choices in one model of vehicle, it can be confusing to the everyday motorist to decide on the appropriate fuel.

There are also many reports of people putting the wrong fuel in their vehicles, often with catastrophic results. This guide will help clarify fuel differences, and what to do if you put the wrong fuel into your vehicle.

What are the fuel types commonly available?

Enter any fuel station and you’ll see a whole range of different fuels, especially the premium offerings. You’ll see regular unleaded, or 91-octane, premium unleaded 95, premium unleaded 98, E10 unleaded, E85 ethanol, diesel and premium diesel. That’s a lot of choice and potential disaster considering that there are only two major fuels: unleaded petrol and diesel.

LPG, or liquid petroleum gas, is another fuel you’ll find, but it’s not as popular as it once was given the costs of conversions have gone up and government subsidies on new conversions have been scrapped. LPG excises have now been imposed and prices have also risen sharply, dramatically offsetting the cost-effectiveness of running LPG.

With the death of local manufacturing, Holden and Ford no longer produce LPG-dedicated vehicles. No new cars sold today are available as LPG-only or even flex-LPG/petrol. Another nail in the coffin of LPG is that it is difficult to impossible to source in country areas, with many suburban stations removing pumps due to low demand. LPG is now largely relegated to taxi use and older existing conversions.

The ‘premium’ varieties offer some advantages over regular unleaded, the main one being an enhanced additive package. According to the refineries, they are said to remove deposits in the fuel system and keep it clean, thus maintaining a proper fuel injector spray pattern.

These additives also help reduce carbon build-up within the combustion chamber. This benefit can result in the fuel economy of a particular vehicle being maintained over its life. Sadly, these additives don’t actually increase the power of your engine, despite what the oil company marketing teams might suggest.

Premium fuels, especially petrol, are only necessary if your vehicle requires them. Most European vehicles require premium 95 at a minimum, while most Japanese makes and locally produced cars only need 91 regular unleaded. Fuelling up with a higher grade of fuel than your car requires is a waste of money. It’s good practice to put a fuel cleaning additive in the tank from your local SuperRepAuto, usually once or twice a year, to keep the system clean.

For premium diesel, the main additive is a defoamant, so you can fill the tank faster without it frothing all over the place like a rabid animal. Beyond that, premium diesel also has cleaning and anti-corrosion additives. It’s worth noting that premium diesel is the only diesel fuel on offer at most metropolitan service stations, except for large interstate trucking routes or country areas.

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