Should I pay extra for premium fuel?

If you’ve seen the premium fuels available at the petrol station and wondered if they’re cost-effective for your car, we have the answers… 

If you’ve seen the premium fuels available at the petrol station and wondered if they’re cost-effective for your car, we have the answers… 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 24 JANUARY 2020

Is premium fuel better for your car?

It seems to make sense that the ‘super fuel’ varieties are going to be better than regular diesel or unleaded. After all, a premium product with a higher price point should have extra benefits.

That’s true, according to the manufacturers. Premium fuel, such as Shell’s V-Power, BP’s Ultimate and Esso’s Synergy Supreme+ are marketed on benefits like removing dirt from the inside of the engine, helping it to run smoothly and reducing wear and tear.

But the major difference between standard and premium usually comes down to the amount of octane provided by the fuel.

What is octane?

Octane is a component of petrol that helps it burn efficiently at high temperatures. Having enough octane in the mix helps prevent fuel from combusting at the wrong time inside the engine. So it’s beneficial for the long-term health of your car.

Octane level is measured in ‘RON’ (Research Octane Number). The standard unleaded petrol you can buy across the UK has a RON of 95. In comparison, premium fuels have RONs of 97, 98 or even higher in some cases.

Will a premium fuel pay for itself?

Premium fuels cost significantly more than the everyday versions. So it’s logical to think that the more you pay for fuel, the further it will take you.

But the majority of standard cars have been designed to run well on regular 95 octane fuel and won’t necessarily be more fuel-efficient on the premium version.

If you have a sports car or a vehicle with a very powerful engine, that’s tuned for a lot of heat, you could get more efficiency from a premium fuel. And if saving money isn’t your primary goal, you could choose premium fuel for the engine health benefits it might offer, such as cleaning.

What about diesel engines?

Premium fuel is also available for diesel engines. The additives it contains can help flush out the engine and keep things clean and smooth-running for longer. With diesels producing a lot of sooty particulates and often running for hundreds of thousands of miles, occasionally filling up with premium fuel may be worthwhile.

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