Selecting the right octane fuel for your car

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We often hear the phrase called normal fuel and premium fuel. With the ever-advancing technology, the motor fuel marketing companies and the automakers are working on more refined fuel quality and better fuel efficiency respectively. But, this also depends on choosing the right fuel for your car.

(Also Read: Petrol, diesel prices hiked for the first time in over a month)

With both the normal fuel and the expensive premium fuel available in the market, motorists often feel confused while making a decision. Octane rating is the measurement that defines petrol’s ability to resist knocking or pinging during the combustion process, which is caused by the mixture of air and fuel inside the engine.

Here is all you need to know about choosing the right octane fuel for your car.

How octane matters?

Octane defines how much compression a fuel, petrol, in this case, can withstand before igniting after being mixed with air in the combustion chamber inside an engine. The octane rating of a type of petrol usually reflects the quality, purity, refinement, efficiency and heat bearing capacity of petrol.

Higher octane fuel doesn’t pre-ignite or explode as quickly as low octane fuels. This is why high-performance cars with higher compression engines often demand higher octane fuel, which makes these engines work more efficiently and emit fewer emissions and exhaust.

In India, types of petrol available with different octane rating include – 87 octane regular fuel, 87 octane + additive HP Power, 91 octane BPCL Speed, 91 octane IOC XtraPremium etc.

How octane defines fuel premiumness?

The octane number is important in defining a fuel’s premiumness. Usually, octane level of 87 means regular petrol, level 88–90 means midgrade petrol, and 91–94 octane means premium petrol. In many cases, octane ratings are displayed in fuel stations.

The more octane fuel has, the more expensive the fuel becomes. Premium fuel is significantly pricier than regular fuel. If you remember right, just a few weeks ago, when prices of petrol and diesel were skyrocketing across India, in many areas of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the price of premium petrol crossed 100 mark.

In India, oil marketing companies such as BPCL, IOCL, HPCL claim better fuel efficiency and long-run performance of the car with their premium fuel offerings.

Choosing the right fuel

Choosing the right octane fuel for your car might seem a confusing task for you, but it is not actually. Every automaker pre-defines the octane level of fuel for every car while rolling them out. The user manual of a vehicle comes with the octane level of fuel required, mentioned on those.

If your car’s user manual says ‘Regular fuel only’, then stick to that. No point in paying more money for refuelling your car with premium fuel that your car doesn’t require. Even if you put high-octane fuel in your car, when that is not recommended by the manufacturer, it will give you no benefit, as you will not get better performance, better fuel efficiency or emit lesser pollutant in the air.

In short, using premium petrol will not optimise your car’s overall performance at all. On the other hand, if your car’s user manual suggests you use premium petrol, then go for it, as you will not achieve the advertised performance of the vehicle unless you fill the petrol tank with premium fuel. However, the change from regular to premium is something that is unlikely to be noticed.

Every vehicle is designed to run best with a specific type of fuel, and the manufacturers make it easy to decide what to put in the fuel tank. Just looking for the fueling information in the car’s user manual, or checking inside the fuel tank door will help you.

Usually, the cars come with a label inside the fuel tank door indicating whether the car needs premium unleaded fuel or regular fuel.