All of us (hopefully) know that there are different types of fuel and that using the wrong one can be potentially very expensive. But have you ever considered why they are different – and how they are different? At a time when opinions on the best and worst fuel to use for the environment, your pocket, and efficiency seem to be changing all of the time, it can help to understand a little bit more about the different fuels.
At the moment, there are six primary power types for a car. We say power types, because not all of them necessarily involve fuel as we know it.
Petrol is probably the fuel that we think of first. The most common fuel for cars in the UK, in a bid to make unleaded petrol better for the environment, it is mixed with bioethanol. There are several types of petrol, including standard (premium) unleaded, super unleaded, which has higher octane and is needed for high performance vehicles, and E10, which is the standard grade of fuel for vehicles made in or after 2021.
Diesel is the next most common fuel type. Diesel engines tend to last longer than petrol ones, and there was a time when people thought that diesel was more environmentally friendly than petrol. However, this is not the case and, as a result, diesel has dropped in popularity in recent years, with a pledge to stop producing diesel vehicles by 2030. Regular and premium diesel are available.
Liquid Petroleum Gas, or LPG, is made up of a mixture of propane and butane. Although LPS is available at most UK fuel stations, vehicles need to be specially converted to use LPG.
Biofuels are fuels made from organic, renewable materials. There are two types of biofuel: biodiesel, which is an alternative to, or can be mixed with, diesel, and bioethanol which can be used instead of, or mixed with, unleaded petrol. Although not widely available at the moment, Biofuels may rise in popularity as they become more available and more cost effective.
Electric cars are on the rise, and with second hand electric vehicles reaching the market, it is becoming an increasingly viable option for a range of budgets. Electric vehicles (EVs) can be either solely electric or hybrid. Hybrids offer more flexibility, as they have a fuel (diesel or petrol) back up, which makes it more versatile for longer journeys as well as in areas where there are not as many electrical charging points.
If you are buying a new car, it is important to consider the type of fuel that your new car will need. Increasing emissions restrictions mean that if you live in or work in a city, owning the “wrong” vehicle could cost you a lot of money. If you are in doubt about the value or ramifications of different fuel types, speak to your local dealership as well as your local garage; nobody is better placed to tell you the pros and cons of a car than a mechanic!