When you get to the petrol station you will be presented with at least three choices for unleaded fuel which are sometimes labelled differently depending on the brand. The most expensive option and sometimes considerably more expensive is the premium unleaded petrol option. The question that most people ask is what are the benefits of premium unleaded petrol and is it worth the hefty price tag? The myth that premium unleaded petrol is actually better for your car is somewhat false and we will explore this question in this article.
What is Premium unleaded petrol?
Premium unleaded petrol is simply fuel that has a higher octane rating than standard unleaded. Regular unleaded is rated at 91 octanes and premium can range up to 98 octanes. Ok, ….. So what is Octane and what are the benefits? Fuel octane rating is a measure of the capability of a fuel to resist compression before it spontaneously self-ignites. Thus, fuel with a higher octane number can withstand greater pressure inside the cylinder before igniting in this fashion. Some people believe high octane will offer more power, others think it will get them better mileage, while some believe the higher-octane fuel will help clean their engine. Let us explore these beliefs in this article.
It has been said that premium unleaded petrol can improve performance and CO2 emissions when a vehicle is set to take some grunt, this may be towing a trailer or heavier cargo than usual.
But under normal driving conditions, you’ll probably notice little to no benefit if your car isn’t designed to use premium fuel. Each vehicle model has a recommended minimum octane requirement – often printed somewhere near the fuel filler cap – and owners should not fill up with a fuel grade lower than this, but a higher grade may offer the above-mentioned advantages.
Higher octane fuels will provide you with a little extra power but it would be highly unlikely to be so significant as to offset the extra spend. So with normal driving where you are cruising down the freeway at 100 km an hour, and magically changed your fuel from regular unleaded to premium unleaded petrol and kept everything the same, the same throttle position, same road, same everything – you’d look down and you will see the speedo on 105 or something.
There has been much talk of premium unleaded petrol having better additives and detergent packages blended into the fuel, which is designed to keep an engine’s intake system, injectors and valves clean, in turn maintaining the engine’s defined air-to-fuel ratios. Despite these claims, premium unleaded petrol does not clean your engine. The additives in some fuels are designed to clean older engines but won’t make much difference to cars with modern fuel injection systems.
In summary, the choice really is yours. Your vehicle has been tested thoroughly by the manufacturer and their recommendation for what fuel to put in your car should be the basis for your regular fill. Some cars run optimally on standard unleaded fuel, while others run more efficiently on higher octane fuels like premium unleaded petrol. This is why it’s worth checking your car manufacturer’s handbook for guidance on fuel.
The only guarantee is that it costs more.