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The Cheap, The Regular, And The Premium

Have you noticed how many options are at the fuel pump these days? E10, 91, 95, 98 … yep, there’s a few. Each comes with its purported benefits and a price tag that’ll make you cry or fill you with envy.

With all the options though, you want to make sure you stay in your lane. Fill up on the wrong fuel type, and you might find yourself pumping fuel that…

  1. Adds very little to the performance of your car
  2. Limits performance, or
  3. In rare cases, damages your engine. Ouch!

So let’s talk fuel.

Before we kick on, let me cut to the chase for those of you who might be thinking this already…You should always add the fuel recommended by your car manufacturer. Your car is calibrated to run on the stuff, so as a rule of thumb don’t use a lower octane fuel.

If you did, you might find the car performs under par – less km’s per litre or less oomph on acceleration.

In rare cases, especially in older cars, you might also experience some level of damage (more on this later). Fortunately, this isn’t the case in most modern cars since they come with sensors that detect and prevent damage to your engine. That said, the upfront saving you get from cheaper fuel might be outweighed by losses in efficiency.

Think your car runs better on higher-octane fuel? Go right ahead, but it’s not going to get your engine revving like you might think. Instead, we’d recommend you save your penny’s and treat your ride in another way… new car accessories anyone? ?

What are your options?

E10

  • K.A. the cheap stuff
  • Blend of ethanol (10%) and unleaded petrol (90%)
  • Supports the sugarcane industry #queenslander
  • Not compatible with all vehicles but it is becoming increasingly so
  • Technically, a lower octane fuel (burns faster)

91

  • K.A. the original unleaded
  • Find it at just about any petrol station
  • More expensive than E10
  • Contains more octane than E10

95

  • K.A. the middleweight
  • Not as easy to find as 91
  • Small turbo cars use this gear
  • Contains more octane than 91

98

  • K.A. the fast and furious
  • Usually required for performance cars
  • The most expensive fuel going around
  • Contains more octane than 95

Hold up, what is octane?

91, 95, 98… they all roughly contain the same amount energy. Crazy, right? We all thought the higher numbers meant you got more energy, too.

In reality, octane is the speed at which fuel burns. Another way to think of it is the level of resistance it has to burning through too quickly. Emphasis on the too.

The higher the number, the higher its ability resist burning.

Knock, knock …

Every car that rolls off the manufacturing line is designed to take a minimum octane level. They’re calibrated that way.

When you choose to put a higher-octane fuel in your car, it doesn’t really know what to do with it. It can’t take advantage of the slower burning and translate that into energy. That’s why your Corolla Hatchback doesn’t transform into a red-hot 32 Skyline just because you added a little 98.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you choose (or accidentally) add a lower grade fuel you might notice less grunt around town.

In older cars, the engine may also make a knocking or pinging sound. That’s because there’s a little too much heat hitting your spark plugs and causing them to spontaneously ignite. This is bad. Very bad. Your engine won’t like it and may get damaged.

How do you know which fuel is right for your car?

You should use the minimum octane fuel as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Where do you find this info? The car manual is a good place to start. Also, try the fuel flap – it usually has the next best thing to flashing flights, telling you which fuel you should use.

If you’re keen to take advantage of the cheaply priced E10, a good place to check is the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) website. There, you’ll find a list of modern vehicles with their relevant compatibility score.

open fuel tank
Check the fuel tank flap to see which fuel is recommended for your vehicle

What side is my fuel tank on again?

If you have a memory like mine and constantly think… ‘wait a minute, what side is my fuel tank on, again?’ Here’s a little trick to help you clear this hurdle every time. Hint: the arrow points to the side your fuel take is on.

fuel tank side
To see which side your fuel tank is on, check which way the arrow points

Love a splash of premium but thinking your money can be better spent?

If you have a taste for all things that protect and enhance your drive, take a wander through our online car accessory store. There you’ll find the gear that fits your make & model without the hassle of heading down to the car dealer and putting up with that noise.

Ready to start shopping? Start here.

Luke Samuels

Luke is the Marketing guy at FitMyCar. He's been writing & selling stuff online since the day he got his licence to drive and despite a lack of taste in cars, he's managed to work in one automotive role or another for half his working life.

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