This month we’re turning our attention to comparing each fuel type and helping you try to establish which fuel is right for your vehicle.
For the everyday driver, deciding which fuel type is appropriate for your car can be a confusing experience. Often drivers become familiar with a particular fuel name or colour code synonymous with a fuel company. However, what happens when you have to visit a differently branded petrol station and they don’t exactly make the choice clear when you go to fill up your car?
To avoid you putting the wrong fuel in your car and potentially causing catastrophic damage we’ve put together this handy guide to walk you through the different fuel types and help you identify the correct fuel for your car.
How do I know what fuel type my car needs?
The type of fuel your car needs is printed in your owner’s manual and most vehicles also have a label on the inside of the fuel door.
Your car will generally be one of 3 fuel types:
Petrol – Generally the most popular fuel option, covering the widest range of options available for drivers. Petrol comes in a range of variations including regular unleaded, premium unleaded, and ethanol options.
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) – No new cars sold today are available in LPG-only or even flex-LPG-petrol making this a low-demand fuel type in 2020 and beyond. LPG is now largely relegated to taxi use and older existing conversions.
Diesel – Popular amongst commercial vehicles for traditionally providing better fuel economy than petrol engines.
If your car stipulates LPG or Diesel fuel variations, you are restricted to these types at a petrol station however if your vehicle runs on petrol, you’ll likely have a wide range of suitable fuels to choose from.
Different petrol types in Australia
The main difference between common fuel types is their octane rating, also known as the Research Octane Number (RON). Octane ratings indicate the ability of the fuel to resist pre-ignition or engine knocking. The higher the RON number is the more resistant the fuel is and essentially more efficiently your car will run.
Unleaded Petrol (91)
Unleaded 91 petrol is the most popular fuel type in Australia and can generally be found everywhere. If you visit a Shell or BP service station this is most likely going to be the green fuel pump.
Most common cars can run on Unleaded 91 however you’ll likely experience better performance with higher-quality fuel. More recently there’s been an introduction of common vehicles that demand a higher-performing fuel type.
Premium, 95 Unleaded Petrol
Premium unleaded 95 petrol, as the name suggests is a more premium variation of unleaded petrol. It is designed to increase fuel efficiency and provide smoother engine operation and in turn overall performance.
Most European vehicles and high-performance vehicles require 95 fuel at a minimum. It is generally more expensive than unleaded 91 however cheaper than 98.
Premium, 98 Unleaded Petrol
Otherwise known as Ultra-Premium by some brands, 98 is the highest-octane fuel currently available in Australia. Unleaded 98 provides higher engine power and overall performance in comparison to 91 and 95. It is also responsible for less pollution, according to providers.
High-performance vehicles will often require 98 and nothing else. Often there’s a big price jump between 95 and 98. Some experts suggest this is the most fuel-efficient petrol currently on the market.
Perhaps you’ve just pulled into a petrol station you don’t usually visit and see another option called E10. E10 is increasingly becoming more readily available and suitable for most common vehicles.
E10 is the cheapest fuel option out of all the variations we’ve highlighted as it’s a blend of regular unleaded with 10 per cent ethanol.
Cars made before 1986 are not designed to run on ethanol and while most modern cars might be able to accept it, you’ll likely experience far greater overall performance choosing a 91 or 95 variation.
Choosing the wrong fuel for your car can be a disastrous and expensive experience. Hopefully, this short guide shines a light on the different fuels on offer at your local service station and which is suitable for your vehicle.
To find the cheapest fuel in your area, head to FuelWatch and specify your area.
If you need further help identifying your fuel type or you’re looking for a second opinion on your vehicle’s performance, Gino’s Panel and Paint can help.