If you are anything like us, you'll undoubtedly have your 'favourite' petrol station where you go to fuel up your car. It's also likely (especially in the UK) that you've tutted extremely loudly at the price of fuel. When you consider a standard fuel duty of nearly 58 pence added to each and every litre, it's no wonder that people try to save at the pumps! You'll also have noticed that there is a premium pump for petrol and diesel… It costs even more! Why would anyone pay more, is premium fuel worth the extra cost and what's the difference? Well, in this article you're about to find out.
It isn't just a name. You'll see words such as Premium, Nitro +, V-power, Momentum and other labels on the pump. But what's the difference?
Do you know the best way to tell which is premium fuel?
Take a look at the price! You'll generally find that premium petrol and diesel tends to retail at around 10 pence more per litre than 'standard' fuel… Like it wasn't pricey enough already. The average UK car owner spends just over 7% of their income on fuel.
Aside from the above, what's the real difference?
Premium petrol does contain additives that are better for your engine. It generally has a higher octane rating. This rating is given as a two-digit number. 'Normal' petrol is normally 95 octane. High-performance fuel will have an octane rating of 97 or 98.
The octane rating is a measure of how hard the fuel can be squeezed before it ignites. Low-performance engines run fine on lower octane ratings. High-performance engines need higher octane fuel. Otherwise, the engine can be damaged by something called knocking…
Piston engines (exactly the kind in your car) run by igniting the fuel inside a piston. As it burns, it creates hot gases that push the piston back up. This happens thousands of times a minute to drive the engine.
Want to see it in action?
Here's a short video explaining exactly how a piston engine uses the fuel that it burns…
The problem comes when the fuel ignites before it is supposed to. This phenomenon is called knocking… At best, it sounds like a sharp pinging, and the engine carries on running. At worst, it can completely trash an engine.
The good news is, if you are bobbing around in a Ford Focus, chances are you won't need to worry about knocking.
If you are driving something high powered (lucky you), it might well be worth considering using high octane fuel. Most high-performance cars have high compression engines.
Remember what we said?
Higher octane means the fuel can be compressed more before it ignites. As a result, you are less likely to get knocking with premium petrol, especially in a car with high engine compression.
Premium diesel is a little different to petrol. As diesel engines work slightly differently.
A petrol engine needs a spark to ignite the fuel. Diesel engines, on the other hand, actually rely on the fuel being compressed to ignite. So, you don't want this being inhibited.
So, what does premium diesel offer?
Well, diesel is similar to kerosene. If you've ever burned a paraffin lamp, you'll have noticed that it produces a lot of grime and soot! The same thing happens within your engine.
So, you've got a few choices to make next time you are at the pumps. (No, we don't mean whether you want a bag of cheese and onion or ready salted). Here's what you want to know…
As we said above, the vast majority of commercially available cars are made to run on lower octane fuel. It is what they are specifically designed for. If your motor is something most people consider 'ordinary', you probably don't need high octane (and more expensive) fuel.
You'll literally be throwing money out of the back end for no net gain.
On the other hand, if you have a high-performance car, investing a few extra pence when you are the pumps is a good idea. (And, let's face it… If you are driving that, you should be able to afford it). It will prolong the life of your engine and prevent a costly bill… Engine parts for those 'head turners' aren't cheap!
If you are driving a diesel car, you'll get soot and deposit buildups regardless of engine performance.
If you are looking to take care of your diesel engine, it is recommended that you fill up with a tank of premium diesel every so often to give the pistons a little clean. About every 1000 miles should do the trick. You don't need to fill up with more expensive diesel every time.
And bearing in mind, it will cost your £5-10 more for your 1000 mile 'engine clean', when compared to your normal 'fill up' price we think that's not prohibitively expensive… Especially when you consider the cost of a new diesel engine.
Deciding whether to use premium petrol or diesel depends very much on your vehicle. Drivers of regular cars really don't need premium petrol. If you have a high-performance car, premium petrol could save you money in the long run. Owners of diesel vehicles can use premium diesel to 'flush' the engine every once in a while. New parts for cars can be expensive. This includes tyres. If you are looking to save on your car, whether it's high performance, diesel, or 'middle of the road', Motokiki can provide cheaper solutions. Check out our offers here.
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