Pull into any fuel filling station across the world and you will be surprised at the types of fuel that are available these days. Gone are the days of finding only diesel and petrol as fuel options at the pump. But how do you choose from these huge options of fuel and which one will suit your car? If you plan to learn how to drive, getting driving lessons would be the first step. There are different types of driving lessons such as manual and intensive driving lessons.
To help you understand which fuel you should use in your car, here is a complete guide to the types of fuel available across the UK.
Types of Fuel in the UK
There are 6 common fuels found across the UK to power up your car:
Petrol: The most common fuel that can power up your car in the UK, is petrol. Bioethanol is added to unleaded petrol, to offer a more environmentally friendly version of petrol.
Diesel: Common tours of types of diesel include premium diesel and regular diesel with low sulphur. However, the demand for diesel in the UK has reduced due to environmental concerns and high-profile scandals over diesel.
LPG: Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is made of propane and butane. LPG is available at most fuel stations across the UK and is cheaper than diesel and petrol. However, you need to modify your car to make it run on gas.
Biofuels: Although biofuels are not widely commercially found in the UK on their own, these fuels are blended with both standard diesel and standard unleaded petrol to make them environmentally friendly.
Electric: Increasingly common across Europe, battery electric vehicles need no fuel as they are powered by a rechargeable plug-in battery.
Hybrid: These are powered by two types of energy (electric and either petrol or diesel). There are two types of hybrid cars: hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
What types of petrol are there?
If there weren’t sufficient ways to power your car, there are also several types of unleaded petrol.
All types of unleaded petrol contain up to 5% bioethanol – excluding E10 which contains up to 10%. These are further set off by their Research Octane Number (RON):
E10 (95 octanes)
The E10 emerged as the standard grade of petrol on 1 September 2021 in Great Britain. However, it rolled out in Northern Ireland in 2022.
Premium Unleaded (95 RON)
Even though it is named premium, Premium Unleaded petrol is the standard unleaded petrol available across the UK and Europe. It is suitable for almost all types of cars with petrol engines.
Super Unleaded (97/98 RON)
This is the highest-octane fuel that is widely available across Europe. It is ideal for certain high-performance Japanese cars and suitable for others (like Porsches). However, in ordinary cars, the benefits of this fuel will be negligible.
Some retailers in the UK sell their own high-octane, high-performance fuels, e.g. Shell V-Power Unleaded and Total Excellium Unleaded which has an octane rating of 99 RON, the highest in the UK.
Labelling for unleaded petrol (and diesel) was altered in the Summer of 2019 to conform to the EU standardisation requirements of the time. Instead of being named “unleaded” or “diesel”, fuels are now referred to for their biofuel blend – diesel is called B for biodiesel and their biofuel percentage whereas unleaded petrol is called E for ethanol.
While it is compulsory for all petrol pumps in the UK to employ this new method of fuel labelling, often retailers adopt older names alongside “diesel” and “unleaded” to help motorists. “Diesel fuel is often preferred over petrol due to its higher energy density, which means that it provides better fuel efficiency and can result in lower fuel consumption and emission”, says Kevin Tuffney, the co-founder of Rateddriving, a driving school based in the UK.
Is Supermarket Fuel Not Good for My Car?
In short, no. You won’t find any major differences between branded and supermarket fuels.
Supermarket fuel matches the same standards i.e., the British Standard, as branded fuels.
Every car engine is designed to function with supermarket fuel. For decades, car engines have been equipped with systems that automatically avoid issues.
Using a higher grade fuel for your car will deliver a degree of fuel efficiency but may not be substantial compared with additional factors which dominate fuel economies such as vehicle load, driver behaviour, traffic, tyre pressures and weather conditions.
Certain cars may specify the use of higher-octane fuels. However, drivers won’t find any major fuel efficiency benefits as they are likely to pay approximately 14p more a litre for higher octane fuels.
Some cars run optimally on any standard premium unleaded fuel, while others may need higher octane fuels such as super unleaded to run more efficiently, so check your manual.
As a general rule, you can employ a higher-octane fuel than is advised for your car in the owner’s manual even though it might have no discernible benefits. However, using a lower-octane fuel than advised can lead to engine damage.
You can visit the gov.uk online checker to check whether your car/vehicle is compatible with E10 fuel. If you still have doubts, you can visit your car dealer or any other professional for help.