How often do you think about the quality of fuel you put in your car? For many motorists, petrol is petrol and not much thought goes into which service station the car gets filled up at. However, the quality of fuel can have a significant impact on your car’s engine performance and long-term health. Using poor quality or dirty fuel over an extended period can lead to a variety of issues that will affect drivability and require expensive repairs down the track.
What Defines Fuel Quality?
Not all petrol is created equal. There are a few key factors that determine the quality of fuel:
- Octane Rating – This measures the fuel’s resistance to knocking or pinging during combustion. Using petrol with too low of an octane rating can cause knocking, which can damage the engine over time.
- Detergents – Petrol contains detergents that help clean critical engine components like injectors and valves. Better quality fuels have more effective detergents.
- Stability – Petrol can deteriorate and break down over time. Higher quality fuels use stabilisers to maintain integrity for longer.
- Contaminants – Lower grade petrol can contain more impurities like sulphur, metals and solvents which can be harmful to engine parts.
Why Does Fuel Quality Matter?
The quality of fuel matters because it directly impacts the combustion process and the overall operation of your car’s engine. Here are some of the ways that poor fuel can affect engine performance and health:
- Reduced Power & Acceleration – Dirty or substandard fuel does not combust as effectively. This can cause a loss of power and sluggish acceleration.
- Engine Knock – If the octane rating is too low, it can cause premature ignition of the air/fuel mixture and result in engine knocking sounds. This can damage engine components over time.
- Deposits & Sludge Build-Up – Lower quality petrol leaves more deposits and sludge that can clog fuel injectors, valves and catalytic converters. This reduces performance.
- Corrosion & Rust – Contaminants in fuel can cause corrosion of vital engine parts like fuel lines, injectors and cylinders.
- Starting Issues – Petrol that has deteriorated or broken down is harder to combust and can cause difficulties with cold starting the engine.
As you can see, fuel quality impacts many aspects of engine operation and performance. Consistently using dirty or substandard petrol will take its toll on the engine over months and years.
Signs You May Have Fuel Quality Issues
Sometimes the signs of poor fuel quality are obvious, like engine knocking or refusal to start. But other symptoms can develop slowly over time. Here are some signs your car may be suffering the effects of bad fuel:
- Loss of power and acceleration
- Increased exhaust emissions
- Rough idle
- Hesitation or stumbling on acceleration
- Reduced fuel economy
- Engine knocking or pinging
- Hard starting or stalling
- Misfiring at higher engine speeds
If you notice any of these symptoms, switching to a higher grade of petrol from a reputable brand may help resolve the issues. Long-term fuel-related problems will need professional diagnosis and servicing.
How to Choose Better Quality Fuel
Using the highest quality petrol available will give the best all-round performance and engine protection. Here are some tips for choosing better fuel:
- Opt for major fuel brands like Shell, BP, Caltex or Mobil – their petrol contains more detergents and stabilisers.
- Check the octane rating – 95 or 98 octane is preferable for most modern engines.
- Choose the higher grade option – supreme fuels are higher quality compared to regular unleaded.
- Look for Top Tier certified petrol – meets higher standards for detergency and purity.
- Avoid no-name discount petrol stations – fuel can be lower grade.
- Consider additives – fuel system cleaners can help remove deposits.
Using quality fuel may cost a bit more upfront. However, the benefits to your engine’s performance and longevity are well worth the extra investment. You’ll also avoid much more costly repairs caused by poor fuel later on.
As a leading car mechanic shop in North Brisbane, the expert mechanics at SNC Automotive advise that the quality of fuel you use can impact your engine’s performance and long-term durability. We always recommend using premium-grade petrol from a reputable fuel supplier. Our ASE-certified mechanics can also perform fuel system cleaning services and offer additives to help remove deposits and maintain your engine. With over 20 years of experience caring for Brendale motorists, you can rely on SNC Automotive for professional maintenance and advice to keep your car running smoothly.