So we’ve all been there, staring blankly at the pump and thinking to ourselves “91 or 95?”. Despite how confusing this may look the explanation is relatively simple. The higher the number, the higher the level of octane. Most petrol engines can accept all types of petrol, however more and more manufactures are recommending specific types. It’s also worth pointing out that there are other specialist petrol fuels available which don’t trade only on their octane level. Shell V power and its “optimum performance and maximum protection” is an example of this.
91 – This is the lowest octane level available. It’s also usually the cheapest on a litre by litre basis.
95 – This is the middle child, not the cheapest or the highest octane, just mid-range really.
98 – This is the highest octane level available. Many argue that for some vehicles this is the most fuel efficient.
Shell V-Power – This comes in 98 only. Shell claims that this was created with the Ferrari Formula 1 team to clean the engine and bring better performance and fuel economy.
BP Ultimate – This also comes in 98 only. Like many others it is concerned with cleanliness of the engine, performance and fuel economy.
Caltex Vortex – This comes in 98, 95 and diesel. Its main goal is to clean your engine.
While it’s difficult to get a full and comprehensive test on both the different ratings and the branded fuels, the Nine network did a helpful assessment of some of the options in this clip from A Current Affair.
First and foremost, fleet managers need to think about their fuel choices when it comes to petrol. The best approach here is to look into your vehicles handbook for advice on the correct fuel type. Will a policy of buying only one type of petrol reap actual rewards, or is it simply not worth it? Some testing and running of numbers is needed here and fleet managers should research and experiment to find out winning approaches. Employing a real policy in this area can mean imposing a ban on other fuel types. Where this is the case, fleet managers will need to communicate any preferences clearly and consistently with drivers.
In the majority of cases, putting in (for example) 91 instead of 98 will not have any serious adverse effects for the engine. However if your fleet fuel cards precludes the use of specific fuel types, the card will not work when the wrong petrol type is used. In the vast majority of circumstances this means that drivers cannot use premium fuel types. If you find yourself in this situation, we at Fleetcare recommend calling us on our 24/7 hotline at 1300 655 170 (option 1 then 2) where we will attempt to make payment over the phone. This depends on store policy. In many cases this will resolve the problem. Where these corrective measures don’t work, you may need to pay out of your own pocket and seek reimbursements through your company.
Choosing a petrol type is a real consumer decision. Not all fuel types are the same so you do need to consider your options. While debate still rages about the merits of the differing octane levels, it can be said that some do indeed offer real tangible benefits to specific sets of vehicles and vehicle owners. When it comes to fuel card and fleet managers, you need to stay up to date on these issues and remember to alert drivers if you have or intend to impose preferences.