Should You Use Premium Fuel For Your Car?

Last Updated: 30th Jun 2017
Should You Use Premium Fuel For Your Car?

30th June 2017

You will no doubt have noticed when you arrive at certain petrol stations, that you have more choice of fuel than you would at say a supermarket forecourt. In addition to the Unleaded and the Diesel options, you will find a third alternative usually either called premium unleaded or super unleaded.

These premium fuels often cost 10p more per litre than standard unleaded petrol, with different fuel providers charging similar amounts for their own branded premium unleaded alternatives. There are the likes of Fuel Save, Ultimate, Momentum, V-Power Nitro+, Synergy, Synergy Supreme+ and the list could go on. Many have different names for a similarly premium unleaded petrol.

Are these premium fuels worth it?

What is premium fuel?

Premium fuels have a higher octane rating than standard petrol. The octane rating indicates how much energy is required to ignite the fuel rather than how much energy the fuel gives the car. Premium fuels contain higher concentrations of friction, reducing additives and cleaning agents, ensuring you get more mpg and lower CO2 emissions.

Higher octane rated fuel is required for engines with higher compression ratios. Petrol engines operate at slightly different pressures or compression ratios. These are the ratios at which the volume of cylinder and combustion chamber when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke and when the piston is at the top of its chamber.

When the compression ratios are higher, a higher mixture of fuel and air is compressed. By compressing the fuel further, it reduces the need for as much fuel to be injected, thereby allowing you to travel further on less fuel.  This is because more mechanical energy is extracted from the fuel when the spark plugs ignite.

Some cars have petrol engines that require premium fuels because they operate with a higher compression ratio. If these engines use regular petrol, they could experience a nasty condition called “knocking”, which is when the fuel ignites prematurely in the engine, damaging it.

Filling the car with petrol

Does your car require premium fuel?

Don’t worry, it is easy to find out if you require premium fuel for your car. Car manufacturers include a label on the inside of the fuel filler door of your car. If it is a new car or you have never looked at that sticker before, it would be wise to check it before you fill up again.

The label will state whether you need unleaded, which is regular octane rating or super unleaded which is high octane rating. If there is no label, make sure you check the handbook or contact the local dealer and ask them. It is best to discover what fuel the car requires before you accidentally damage your engine using the incorrect fuel.

If your car only needs low octane fuel, then you will save money on the fuel bill and if you use reputable brands of fuel, your car's engine will run at its most efficient. Your engines components will remain clean, strong and fit for use over their lifetime as a result.

So, is premium fuel worth it?

The question of whether premium fuel actually improves your fuel economy is up for discussion. Fuel makers obviously claim it does. However, test carried out by What Car? discovered there was little improvement across a range of brands.

You can test it yourself by filling a tank with standard fuel and running on that then repeat the same process with premium fuel to see if there is an improvement. However, bear in mind that the weather, traffic and other driving conditions can vary and even your own schedule may vary thereby skewing the results. So, the jury is out on whether it actually improves your fuel economy.

However, premium fuel does include more powerful cleaning agents, ensuring your engine lasts longer over time. It keeps the engines in better condition than those who use standard fuel so that is certainly one benefit.

So, what should you do?

The likely verdict is that if you remain with reputable standard brands of petrol, you will have the same outcome as if you were using premium fuel brands. Only use premium fuel brands if your car requires that higher octane rating.

If you are interested in leasing a car and want to know what type of fuel your car should use, enquire with us and our dedicated team will be able to give you all the details. We have a huge selection of cars available from petrol to diesel cars alongside hybrid and electric cars. We have a car that suits any need or desire. All are available on a fantastic car leasing deal.

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