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Is Cheap Petrol Really Bad For Your Car?

One thing that all car drivers will have noticed is the different prices of petrol in one area. Once upon a time, I came across two filling stations that were opposite each other on the same road. They both sold petrol, except one of them sold petrol around 3p per litre cheaper than the other!

And then you have the filling stations that belong to supermarket chains. They usually seem cheaper than “branded” filling stations! You have a choice of where you buy your petrol from. But why is it that some people think buying “cheap” petrol is bad for your car?

In today’s article, I explore some of the myths surrounding the petrol price war. I also check out the reasons behind people’s buying habits.

Is cheap petrol inferior?

As mentioned earlier, supermarket petrol is often cheaper than branded filling station petrol.

There is a common misconception that supermarket petrol is rubbish. That you shouldn’t buy it because it will damage your engine. That it contains chemicals it shouldn’t. Of course, the only thing that is rubbish are these urban myths!

All petrol sold on any forecourt in the UK has to conform to a set of basic standards. For example, standard unleaded petrol must conform to BS EN 228 standards.

They state that petrol sold on any UK forecourt must include detergents that keep internal engine parts clean.

Supermarket petrol only contains the basic detergents required by law, hence the lower prices. Petrol sold at branded filling stations includes extra additives. They enhance fuel efficiency and performance in the cars that use them. It is for those reasons that you pay extra.

Is the extra cost at branded filling stations worth it?

There is no clear cut answer, as it depends on your specific needs. If you want to make sure your engine works at its best, you ought to stick with branded petrol. But if you drive an old car, for instance, you might not be as bothered.

One thing that you could do is fill up your tank with super unleaded at every fourth fill-up. The additives in super unleaded offer extra benefits for fuel injection systems.

Should I fill up with super unleaded all the time?

In most cases, no. Super unleaded petrol has a higher octane rating and is for cars that need the extra additives. For example, high-performance cars and some import cars from Japan need high octane petrol.

Using super unleaded in a car that is happy to run on “normal” unleaded won’t damage it. Modern cars can  adjust ignition timing on the fly to compensate for differences in fuel octane.

In other words, your car won’t suffer from any performance issues.

What additives do fuel companies add to petrol?

That’s a good question. Fuel producers aren’t keen to share the specific details of the detergents and additives they add to petrol.

If they did that, their competitors would use that information to their advantage! The good news is that all petrol has to conform to a basic standard, so you can be sure that the petrol you buy won’t kill your car’s engine!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments section below!