95/93 – What is the Difference, Really?

13 September 2012: With last week’s spike in petrol, the pinch is once again felt most firmly by motorists and the pressure on consumers’ disposable income has increased further. “Now more than ever, economical fuel consumption is essential. While motorists should look at everything from the size of their vehicles to the way they drive them to try and reduce costs as much as possible, a key area to consider is the fuel they put into them,” says Gary Ronald, Head of Public Affairs at the Automobile Association (AA). However, it’s easier said than done as consumers faced with the choice between 95 or the cheaper 93 octane fuel may wonder what the implications are for their vehicles.

In a nutshell, when fuel burns it releases energy, and higher octane fuel theoretically means higher performance as it can withstand more compression before detonating. Therefore, the potential for better performance using higher octane fuel does exist, but the difference depends on a variety of factors.

Firstly, the design of the engine plays a role, with some engine designs responding with noticeably improved performance when the correct fuel is used. In fact, most vehicles are now designed to use a specific octane, and in some cases using any other fuel can affect the engine warranty.

Tip from the AA: Always refer to your vehicle’s handbook and use the recommended octane fuel.  If your car can run on the lower octane, rather use that as it will save you quite a bit of cash.

It’s also important to note that performance is dependent on driving conditions.

Another factor to consider is the model of your engine. More modern engines may run better on higher octane fuel, especially if they have turbo or superchargers. The difference will be more apparent for older vehicles on long- distance trips, where you’re likely to get more mileage for your money.

Tip from the AA:  Unless your engine is turbo or supercharged, you should go for 93.

Lastly, different fuel suppliers use different additives in their fuel, meaning that one 95 may differ slightly from one supplier to the next.

Tip from the AA: Choose a fuel that offers high-quality fuel with performance-enhancing additives, for example BP Ultimate, allowing your car engine to perform at its peak.

“When filling up, it’s always good to weigh up your options. And while the cheaper option may work for your pocket, it could give you less mileage in the long run,” adds Ronald.

Contact AASA Public Affairs 
Telephone 011 799 1126
E-mail Press@AASA.CO.ZA

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