Top Tips on Choosing the Best Petrol for Your Car

16 Jun, 2019 • 6 min read
Top Tips on Choosing the Best Petrol for Your Car

The average Singaporean driver can spend up to $30,000 on petrol over a car’s 10 year lifecycle. Steer believes knowing your fuel can help you save money, prolong your car’s lifespan and enjoy smoother rides. Here are the top things to know about your fuel.

1) What are the different kinds of fuel?

Apart from diesel, there are 3 main kinds of fuel in Singapore: 1) 92-Octane, 2) 95-Octane and 3) 98-Octane.

Octane rating refers to the fuel’s resistance to pre-ignition1. The higher the rating, the lower the likelihood of pre-ignition.

Most regular cars tend to require just 95-octane fuel while only high-performance engines require higher octane ratings than that. The recommended type of fuel can typically be found in the owner’s manual.

2) What fuel to use?

What happens when you don’t use premium fuel for an engine that needs it?

Using a lower than recommended octane rating fuel on your car can cause pre-ignition or knocking2.

This is the sound your car makes when your fuel pre-ignites, which can damage your engine pistons and cylinder walls. Both are important parts of your engine and could be very costly to fix.

Premium fuel = Better performance?

Higher octane rating fuels are branded as more “premium”.

While it is not wrong to say that, we think it tends to give car owners a wrong impression that performance or fuel economy is greatly enhanced by using higher octane rating fuels.

In fact, studies have found that using higher octane rating fuels provides little to no benefit when it comes to performance and fuel economy3.

Saving money on petrol

98-octane fuel typically costs approximately $0.35-$0.40 more than 95-octane fuel. This is a very significant 15% difference in prices.

This also means your fuel economy has to improve by 15% to justify the use of 98-octane over 92-octane fuel. This is very unlikely to happen as existing studies already show; there are better ways to improve your fuel economy.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the average car in Singapore travels 16,700km a year (46km travelled each day).

This translates to approximately a $410 difference each year4.

Use the minimum octane rating recommended for your car

Given the higher costs of higher octane rating fuel and its lack of benefits, we recommend using the minimum octane rating recommended for your car.

In fact, over the past 12 years, the use of high octane rating fuel amongst private cars has declined from 55% to just 25% 5. We believe this is likely due to consumer education about the appropriate fuel to use.

3) Does brand/retailer matter?

There are four main companies providing petrol in Singapore – Shell, Caltex, SPC and Esso. However, car owners tend not to switch retailers with 58% of consumers sticking to the same brand over a five-year period , according to a report conducted by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS).

While car owners may have preferred brands/retailers, the differences can be highly subjective and we believe users are better off focusing on pricing and convenience.

Pricing: Fuels with the same octane rating are typically very similarly priced in Singapore. However, discounts from credit cards and rewards programs can differ, we recommend using this guide to find the cheapest fuel for you.

Convenience: Detours to refuel takes up time and extra fuel. You can find stations (using this map ) along your most commonly used routes.

4) Can I mix fuels?

The fuel industry is highly regulated and the base fuel between brands is largely the same. The key difference is the kind of additives added.

As a result, there should be no problem if you switch fuel brands as long as you are using the correct octane rating fuel.

5) Maintain your car regularly

Choosing the right petrol for your car is important, but so is maintaining your car.

With Steer, you can book car servicing and repairs at quality workshops - simple, hassle-free, and you can do it on the go.

1 Your spark plug is designed to ignite the fuel/air mixture in the cylinder at a precise timing. When the fuel/air mixture ignites before the spark plugs ignite it, pre-ignition happens.
2 The shockwave from pre-ignition causes a “knocking” or “bursting” sound as the cylinder pressure increases significantly.
3 While this is a test conducted in United States, we think results will be similar elsewhere in the world. We do not know of any controlled conducted in Singapore yet.
4 Savings per year = (Price differential between 95 and 98) x (Distance travelled per year) / (Fuel consumption) = (S$0.37) x (16,700km) / (15km/litre) = $412.
5 Between 2005 and 2017 and according to the Singapore Department of Statistics.

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