Fuel has grown more expensive and even more so in these past months. Despite some slight declines in the world oil prices, the price for fuel in Uganda is still very high with Petrol costing around shs.4290 and Diesel shs.3780. These prices vary according to different petrol stations.
This might have got you more incentivized to try out that cheaper fuel from other petrol stations like Fuelex, Super Oil and OilCom instead of premium ones such as Shell, Total and Oryx; but does it matter? Does it really damage your car’s engine or affect its performance like most people say it does?
The answer is complicated, yes and no. We will focus most of our attention on petrol (gas) which is the most consumed and needs the most refining. To put it simply, it does not really matter what type of petrol you really put into your car if it is for a short period.
The effect from a very short period of use will not create such a big impact in relation to the other different fuel brands. In the long run however, cheap fuel will definitely bring about some consequences and undesired effects in the performance of your car.
All the fuel that every petrol station company in the world receives except for VPower, is at the time of delivery the same. Most of these companies usually even share the same petroleum pipeline and get the same bare refined petroleum from the refinery.
Oil tankers transport this to the different companies which add additives (some proprietary). All companies are mandated by law to add these additives, but they do not add the same composition, quantity and quality of additives.
All fuel technically consists of petrol, additives and ethanol. The most important additives are detergents which are meant to prevent the fuel injector from clogging and deposits from forming in the engine. All fuel contains detergent, but some companies will add more than others.
The more the additives, the more protection your engine will have from wear thus increasing performance. If the car is not yours or you don’t plan to have it for a long time, you might as well use cheap fuels. This is not good practice because the next driver of the car would face the consequences, do unto others what you want done unto you.
It is okay if you are short of money today and need more fuel, so you fill your tank with some cheap fuel but later when you get money, you should switch back to premium fuel stations.
Studies have shown that cars using premium fuel will perform better, get more miles and have less engine problems.
How about that ethanol we talked about that is in fuel?
Almost all fuel has some ethanol in it, the higher the amount of ethanol, the faster your car will gallop it down. Reading this, you are now remembering those stations that apparently give you “air” and your fuel runs out quicker than when you fill up at others. There is a high possibility they leave in a lot of ethanol.
Cars today are very complicated and can almost perfectly regulate the amount of fuel they use through their complex electro-mechanical systems such as those VVTI engines, EFI and CDI technologies, but that doesn’t mean you should bloat them with ethanol rich fuels.
When you take in fuel with a lot of ethanol, you may not be saving as much as you think, you might have to fill the tank again later unlike when you use the fuel from a premium petrol station.
Some car manufacturers warn against using fuel with very high ethanol since it can damage high compression engines and yet, almost all fuels will always have at least 10% ethanol with some even having more than 15% making it very difficult to avoid.
In short, buying cheaper fuel might save you more money at that moment, but it might cost you more later in engine repair or when you end up filling up a few kilometers later. If you are really stuck, it is okay to take cheaper fuels but don’t make it an everyday habit. If you love your car and want it to last you a long time as well as run smoothly, then you should only use that premium fuel.
Reference: Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. “Does It Matter Where You Get Gas?” ThoughtCo. (accessed August 16, 2018).
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Lawrence writes about tech, lifestyle, politics, business, crypto and occasionally entertainment. He writes for Newslibre and Spur Magazine while consulting with numerous international companies on strategy, community management and marketing.
He has contributed to the journalism, open source, film, youth, web, Andela and Mozilla communities.