The Quality of UK fuel

17 May

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What’s the difference between fuels on offer on the forecourt?

Do you get what you pay for on the garage forecourt? If you pay more to use a branded garage, is the fuel any better than what comes out of a budget or supermarket pump? And if you opt for super or premium fuel, is it any better than standard fuel?

Everyone has different thoughts about what fuels are best. The Telegraph newspaper recently published a debate between two of their motoring experts. One was for using the cheapest fuel; the other was for using the most expensive.

Facts about fuel 

So let’s start with some facts that we do know: all fuel sold in the UK from fuel stations and supermarket chains has to meet British standards. Those standards exceed manufacturer's requirements for their cars. All fuel contains various additives to help clean the engine and improve longevity. If you put any of these correct types of fuel in your vehicle it will not harm it, whether it comes from a pump at Sainsbury’s or a motorway services.

Approximately half the fuel sold in the UK is via supermarkets. The supermarkets obtain fuel from the same sources as Esso, Shell, BP or any branded garage.

Additives in fuel 

Now we enter the mystery areas. It is unclear whether the additives in different brands of fuel are exactly the same, so similar as to make no difference or different in some important ways.

You would have to be a scientist to be able to tell and, even then, there is evidence that any fuel can perform slightly differently dependant on how long it has been stored or when the ambient temperature is different.

There has certainly been no evidence that supermarket fuel is inferior. No manufacturer tells car buyers to buy branded fuel; they purely recommend the fuel specification and this can be purchased at a supermarket or a franchise forecourt.

There are extra additive packages and different octane ratings for special high-priced premium fuel. This is the same if you buy it from a supermarket or a franchise forecourt. Whether this high specification fuel improves your vehicle in any way is again unknown. It seems likely it only affects high performance models.

Our recommendations 

All vehicles and drivers are different, so isolating the role of fuel is very hard. If it was possible to detect any improvement in longevity, service bills or mpg, then fleet operators would also have to calculate the average price differential of more expensive fuel and compare.

Allstar is committed to allowing customers to choose the fuel they want. We not only have the UK’s biggest selection of fuel outlets but we also offer a variety of fuel cards and packages to allow you to tailor your buying system to match what you want. If you want to use supermarkets you can; if you only want to use branded garages you can do that too.

You can find more about our fuel cards and the fuel sites we offer near you by looking at our product pages and site locator.

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