Car owners or even car enthusiasts take their time to research different types of vehicles, their features, and many more. However, some details may be confusing to the everyday motorist or first-time car owners. One of these details is the right fuel for a vehicle. Using the wrong fuel for your vehicle can result in dangerous or even catastrophic scenarios.
So if you are a first-time car buyer who has no idea about which fuel is right for which car, this guide is for you.
Six Types of Fuels for Your New Car
All this fuel business would not be so confusing if there are only one or two types out there, but there are SIX. Of course, some types are more common than the others, for instance, many vehicles run on gasoline– but new vehicles with newer technologies run on other types of fuels.
Understanding the different types of fuels will help you avoid disastrous situations. It also helps you make an informed decision on which vehicle to buy– keep in mind that your car will constantly need fuel so you need to consider its price as well.
Here are the six types of fuels:
As mentioned previously, most cars run on gasoline (also known as petrol). Gasoline is specialised fossil fuel designed for four-stroke engines which are found in common cars.
Some of the benefits of gasoline are that it allows your car to quickly start, accelerate fast, while quietly operating. However, gasoline contributes to pollution due to its production of carbon dioxide. It creates smog and contributes to global warming.
Right now, gasoline is still one of the most readily available fuel, however, its cost, environmental effects, and the fact that there are limited resources for its production make it a temporary source of power.
If you plan on buying a tractor-trailer or a truck, then you’d be using diesel as fuel. Transport vehicles like buses, trucks, boats, and trains use diesel to run. Much like gasoline, diesel is non-renewable and it creates organic compounds that cause smog. Although it contributes less carbon dioxide to the environment, it adds to pollution.
Some cars use propane or liquefied petroleum as a clean fuel alternative to gasoline. This fuel does not contribute to smog and it is less expensive than gasoline. However, there are limited car models that run on propane.
Compressed Natural Gas
CNG or Compressed Natural Gas is another environmental-friendly fuel option that some cars can use to run. However, there are limited CNG vehicles in Australia, most of which are fleet light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles with their own refuelling stations.
This type of fuel is odourless and it produces much less ozone-forming emissions compared to gasoline.
If you are looking for fuel made from natural, renewable products, then you may want to check out Ethanol– a biofuel made from sugar cane, corn, and barley. Keep in mind that ethanol is more commonly used as an additive, for instance, E10 is gasoline mixed with 10% of ethanol. Vehicles with a gasoline engine can run on ethanol blends like (E10) without modifications. However, keep in mind that you should still check with your car dealer or manufacturer if you are considering this kind of fuel.
As the name suggests, biodiesel is a diesel substitute made from natural resources such as sugar beet, rapeseed, palm oil, or animal products. This type of fuel produces less carbon dioxide emissions than regular diesel or gasoline.
Although biodiesel sounds like a great alternative to regular diesel, keep in mind that some diesel vehicles cannot process biodiesel. Always check with the car manufacturer before switching to alternative fuels.
Fuel Grade: How to Choose the Right Grade for Your Fuel
Now that you’ve learned about the types of fuel, let’s talk about grades.
Long-time car owners or car enthusiasts understand which fuel works best with their car, whether they stick with what the manufacturers recommend or look for alternatives (for whatever reason)– they understand what works.
Reason Why You Should Avoid Misfuelling
Ideally, you should understand the grade of fuel your car needs. Misfuelling or using the wrong grade or type of fuel on your car can cause some serious damages. Checking with a qualified mechanic should be the norm. Mistakes can happen and end up as a hefty bill for repairs.
Using low-grade fuel on an engine with high levels of heat and pressure can result in knocking sounds. You can literally hear your vehicle malfunction. The knocking sound is actually the sound of tiny explosions causing serious damage on your engine and other vital components of your car. Your car engine performance will significantly deteriorate if you insist on using the wrong type of fuel.
Difference Between the Different Grades of Fuel
Your engine should be able to process the fuel into burning or exploding in the right place, at the right time. This process involves heat, pressure, the right fuel, and air in the right place, at the right time. If any of these elements are off by just a bit, the fuel will not ignite the right way. Imagine if the fuel itself is wrong.
But, don’t think that the fuel grade is consistent from start to finish. Also, don’t think that one rule applies to all cars. Different engines have different fuel-grade requirements. On top of that, expect your engine to change over time.
There are usually five grades of fuel in gas stations which are:
- 87-grade fuel
- 89-grade fuel
- 93-grade fuel
But keep in mind that these grades or numbers have nothing to do with quality. However, understanding which fuel grade works with your car is important. A qualified mechanic can help you identify the right fuel for your vehicle.
Tips for Choosing the Right Fuel Grade
First-time owners do not have this information or experience yet, so if you are a first-time car buyer, a little research goes a long way. There are many horror stories involving the usage of the wrong fuel for the wrong car. Learning the right type and grade of fuel for your vehicle can both save you money and save your life.
So here are some tips to help you choose the right fuel:
Follow the car manufacturer’s recommendations.
This tip is a no brainer, but strangely, some people still end up with the wrong fuel. Read your vehicle owner’s manual, check what the manufacturers recommend and stick to it.
Check your options and ask an expert.
Maybe you bought a used car so it did not come with an owner’s manual. The usual options in gas stations are diesel fuel or unleaded gas, no matter how tempting it is to just guess– don’t. Ask an expert instead. Things can be tricky sometimes since some brands offer models that run on different types of fuel. Don’t risk your vehicle, and don’t risk your life– find out which fuel your vehicle needs before filling up.
Understand the difference between common vehicles and high-performance cars.
Common vehicles can run on low grade, low octane fuels, however, this is not the case for high-performance cars. Cars with high-class construction and engines need a higher octane fuel to avoid engine knocking. Why? Because these types of cars have hotter combustion chambers.
Of course, higher quality fuel comes with a hefty price. This reason is why you should consider the fuel your dream car runs on before sealing the deal with your car dealer.
Buying a used car? Consider its age and condition.
No matter how much someone takes care of their car, time can take a toll on these loyal metal steeds. Some car mechanics may suggest for car owners to switch to another type of fuel so that the car can run longer. For instance, older cars may run better and longer with high octane fuels. However, do not make this decision all by yourself, do not switch to a different fuel without consulting an expert. Things like this should be evaluated on a case to case basis.
Listen to your car engine.
Following your owner’s manual is a no brainer, but you also need to listen to your vehicle. Much like with your own body, doctors can give you medicines, but only you can tell what side effect you’re experiencing from their prescription.
Listen to the sound that your engine makes, if you hear unusual knocking sounds, then maybe it’s time to make a switch to a higher grade fuel. But again, you need to consult a professional mechanic before making this change. Once they hear your evaluation, check your vehicle, and agree with your solution– that is the time to make that fuel change.
Understanding your car means understanding what makes it work, what powers it up, how you can take care of it, etc. That said– you should consider fuel before buying a car– this means checking its price, understanding its effects on the environment (especially if you feel strongly about this), and many more.
Cars are not a cheap purchase, and you want to take care of them and keep them running smoothly as long as possible. However, one simple mistake can ruin all this for you. By simply using the wrong type of fuel, you can single-handedly destroy your fuel system and inflict thousands of dollars worth of repairs on your vehicle.
Keep in mind that simply checking your car owner’s manual or quickly consulting with a qualified mechanic can save you from expensive repairs, and possibly also save you from a dangerous situation.