Tag Archive | "petrol prices"

The Petrol Pump Blues

In these days of economic gloom many drivers dread filling up at the pump. With petrol prices as high as they are right now, saving money whilst sustaining vehicle performance with the fuel we choose are about the only things that matter. We need to get the most out of our vehicles for the longest possible time, which essentially means maintaining properly rather than spending huge sums on costly repairs or a new vehicle.

In order to get the most out of their trusty wheels, some people tend to spend more by choosing a higher octane fuel rating because they assume that their car will perform better and they will as a consequence get better mileage. This is a falsehood. By understanding what fuel octane is and how it affects your engine, you can see that this is not necessarily the case and you can instantly save money at the pump by using cheaper petrol.

Octane ratings measure a fuel’s ability to resist engine knock. The numbers relate to the fuel’s octane rating. Most garages offer two octane grades: regular is usually 95RON in the UK and premium is usually 97, although some can be as high as 99RON. The higher the number, the slower the fuel burns. An internal combustion engine uses pistons to squeeze fuel until it explodes in the cylinder through spark ignition. With high octane fuel, the pistons need to put more pressure on the fuel to get it to ignite.

With the exception of a few high performance luxury vehicles and specially-designed engines, the majority of vehicles on the market are designed to use regular octane. High-compression engines in sports or luxury motors need premium grade to prevent knocking (also known as pre-ignition or ‘knock’). Your car’s manual will provide the answers.

So what exactly is engine knock? Well, it is defined as a rattling or pinging sound that results from premature ignition of the compressed fuel-air mixture in one or more cylinders. This means that the fuel is igniting too soon and may create too much pressure that the engine simply cannot sustain. When vehicles that are designed to use premium are filled with regular, problems like the latter can occur.

Some people believe that buying a higher-octane rated fuel will benefit their engine and that is simply not the case. Choosing a higher octane rating will not affect performance at all.

In most cases, using a higher-octane petrol 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 even more slowly and to ensure regular car maintenance.

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Fuel For The Future

Ethanol is colourless, volatile, flammable and alcoholic and has various industrial uses except in the Deep South of America where it is a recreational home-made beverage – although you shouldn’t try it at home. It is also considered to be a ‘green’ fuel and is probably in your car now. Regular unleaded petrol has, since 2008, a five percent ethanol content. Premium fuels contain no ethanol.

Later this year a new brew with a higher ethanol content will begin to appear on garage forecourts described as E10. In other words this is unleaded fuel but with a 10% ethanol content. This is because ethanol is, in effect, carbon neutral and is as a result beloved of EU decision-makers.

Some European countries have had this fuel for a while so we’re playing catch-up. It has been legal to sell it here since March but in reality we are unlikely to see any before this Summer. Motorists and motorcyclists aren’t obliged to use it and it will be sold alongside our present selection for the foreseeable future. Garages are not obliged to sell it. So that’s all fine then, but for some drivers who might choose to be greener there could be a snag. Or two.

Ethanol in this concentration is known to degrade and damage components in older cars. This is especially true of classic vehicles. It can affect rubber seals and, because it more readily absorbs water, can attack older fuel pipes and carburettor parts. Even used cars registered before 2000 could be vulnerable and, just to be on the safe side, buyers of new cars could check with their dealer. The Department for Transport reckon that 8.6 million vehicles of all types could be affected. Manufacturers are organising a dedicated E10 website where car owners can get all the facts, so watch out for that.

Obviously this is not unexpected. The messianic zeal with which the EU approaches all things green has already had a profound effect on the motor industry; much of it good, it has to be said. It’s all part of their plan to cut the use of fossil fuels to combat global warming etc.

The downside is that a recent study has shown that E10 is not so economical. The report has shown that cars might do less miles to the gallon and that drivers will find that over a year could spend as much as £80 more at the pumps. This is a bit of an issue. If the EU is so keen on their sustainability targets where is the value in a fuel that we’ll all have to buy more of?

The Germans have had E10 for a couple of years now and are said to be deeply suspicious. Many are choosing not to use it because they are unclear on the wider environmental and social aspects of this concoction. Ethanol is a biofuel made from grain so there’s also concern that taking farmland out of the food production cycle could be detrimental to food prices. We’ll have to see how the car makers approach this launch and whether, given their interest in sustainability and our well-being, the government sell it with a tax break! You wish.

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Happiness is an abstract concept. Curiously, you can feel it but you can’t touch it. Our cars make us happy but this euphoria evaporates almost from the minute you pull out and enter traffic. This is when even the most benign suburban streets can turn into a war zone.
As if life wasn’t tough enough, the average motorist has a lot to additionally deal with. Poor road surfaces, rotten weather and the rules of the road all seem to conspire against drivers; and yet these inconveniences pale into insignificance when compared with the bane of our lives – other drivers. The French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, once said that “Hell is other people”. Clearly, at some point, he has driven in the UK.
People: stop and think for a minute. What sort of driving personality are you? Some of you will be careful, others volatile. Perhaps there are some who should be locked up for their own good. Is that a devil or an angel on your shoulder? Watch the video and seek your inner self. Maybe it’s time to be a little more charitable to each other and just maybe that might help to reduce the dings and scrapes of modern motoring. Feel the love on the streets and be happy.

This post has been sponsored by Quotemehappy.com but the thoughts are our own.

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How to Save Money on Petrol

Petrol is a major ongoing drain on any driver’s pockets.  It is needed by most drivers on a weekly or even daily basis and is consistently going up in price.  Every month sees another price hike and indeed it is possible to see petrol go up day after day sometimes.  The huge price of petrol means that any saving made can be substantial and highly welcomed.  Here are a few simple ways to save when you next fill up the tank:


Supermarket petrol is often cheaper than some of the big brand petrol stations.  This isn’t because the quality of the petrol is any worse, it is simply because they can afford to subsidise their prices due to the high volume of traffic they already have coming in and out of their premises.  It is also a way that they attract people in; the way they see it is if they offer you cheap petrol you will come in, fill up and then pop into their supermarket and spend more money.   Therefore it is always worth trying to fill up at a supermarket rather than a “big brand” petrol station whenever you can.

Petrol Comparison Sites

The power of the internet has now provided us with websites that will analyse petrol prices on a daily basis and then let you know the cheapest garage in your area.  So, if today is the day you are going to go fill up with a full tank of petrol then have a look on one of these sites, find the cheapest petrol station and head straight over there!  Just make sure it isn’t going to cost you more in petrol to get there than you will save!

Special Offers

Supermarkets will sometimes run special offers in order to attract more shoppers.  For example, “Spend £50 on your shop and get 5p off per litre” is a common offer that some supermarkets run.  Some supermarkets have offered as much as 10p off per litre at their pumps when combined with a shop.  If such an offer is being run then this is the time to fill up the tank.  If you know an offer is being run for the next week or so then put off the “refill” for as long as possible so that you can fill up with as much cheap petrol as possible.  Combine it with your normal weekly shop and you have made a substantial saving.

Drive More Economically

Of course the most consistent way to save money is in the type of car you drive and how you drive it.  If you have a gas guzzler then consider changing it over for something more economical.  However, even the smallest and most economical of cars can still be made to use less petrol simply by driving carefully.  Avoid accelerating hard, make sure you are not carrying unneeded weight (for example, heavy golf clubs in the boot that are not even being used)  and avoid heavy braking.  Other advice is to never fill up with a full tank of petrol.  Instead, always drive on half a tank.  The extra power required to propel your car with the weight of a full tank of petrol actually makes your car less economical.

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