During these days of economic uncertainty, one mutual feeling exists between motorists – the absolute dread of filling up at the petrol station and driving away with an empty wallet. Switching from your vehicle’s recommended grade of fuel to a cheaper, lower grade variety, will lower your fuel costs but the question is, would it be worth it?
Motorists tend to spend more money choosing a premium, higher octane fuel rating, like unleaded 95 fuel octane, so that their vehicle can perform better and get better mileage. The name ‘premium’ implies a fuel that packs an extra punch and many motorists believe it delivers more power and mileage when driving. The truth is that premium fuel contains no more energy than regular petrol and its performance depends on the season, the region, and your driving behaviour. The difference between premium and regular fuel lies in the hydrocarbons used to make the fuel and the additives that are mixed into it. To boost the fuel’s octane rating, additives like ethanol is added to the brew. Additives reduce carbon build-up inside the engine, improve combustion and it allows your car to start easier in cold weather.
Fuel is made up of a variety of hydrocarbons (paraffins, naphthenes and olefins) made in a catalytic cracker. The chemical process breaks the crude oil’s large hydrocarbon molecules into smaller ones by vaporizing them. The blend depends on where the crude oil came from, the refinery equipment used and the grade of petrol being produced. The number in fuel octane ratings – 93 or 95 – tells you how fast or slow your fuel burns. The higher the number, the slower the fuel burns and visa versa.
High-performance vehicles require premium grade fuel, while the majority of vehicles on the market are designed to use regular octane. The term ‘engine knock’ can be caused from low-quality fuel – it is a worrisome series of sounds from deep within your vehicle’s engine, different from the typical under-hood clanks and chugs. When fuel is improperly ignited, it causes a fireball-like explosion that can damage engine components. However, modern-day cars have sensors that monitor any signs of ‘knocking’’ and will instantly retard the ignition system when it detects an explosion is about to occur.
In most cases, with enhanced automotive technology, using a higher-octane fuel than your vehicle manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit. It won’t make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage or run cleaner. The answer to saving money on fuel is to drive smoothly and slowly, and to ensure you car is properly maintained.
With Matrix, you can save on fuel by improving your car’s fuel economy with good driving behavior monitored via Matrix’s Internet Tracking platform* which alerts you to harsh acceleration, speeding, cornering and braking. Keep on top of your vehicle’s maintenance services with Matrix’s service reminders** and remember, should you ever run out of fuel next to the side of the road, roadside assist** is only a call away to top you up.
*MX2 and MX3 only
The Matrix Team