General Guides | How to Choose the Best Fuel for your Vehicle

How to Choose the Best Fuel for your Vehicle

Wed, 18 December 2019

Deciding on the best fuel for your vehicle is trickier than you think. Why? Because not all fuel is the same. This isn’t as simple as petrol being different from diesel – that’s obvious and your vehicle will really let you know if you’ve used the wrong one.

Instead, deciding on the best fuel for your vehicle can be boiled down to whether you want to save money in the short-term or the long-term. If you want to save money now, then go economy; but if you want to save money in the future, then go premium.

Man Fuelling Car

What is the best type of petrol for my vehicle?

There are three main types of petrol you can buy for your car, van or lorry in the UK:

  • Premium unleaded
  • Super unleaded
  • Premium fuel (for example, Shell V-Power petrol).

Premium unleaded petrol vs super unleaded petrol vs premium fuel

Below, we explain the overall characteristics of these different types of fuel and why you might choose to run your vehicle on them.

Premium unleaded petrol: best low-cost petrol

Premium unleaded petrol is the most common type of petrol. It can be used in almost all petrol vehicles and is the cheapest type that you can buy.

Until September 2021 this grade of fuel contained 5% ethanol, which is used to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions. The UK Government has passed legislation to bump this up to 10%, which is now the standard for all petrol stations nationwide.

A few older cars cannot run on this new petrol and have to use Super unleaded instead: check your car now or find out more.

Super unleaded petrol: best high-performance petrol

Super unleaded petrol is available in most fuel stations in the UK. It is best for high-performance vehicles and, from September 2021, necessary for some older models.

The standard ethanol content for this grade of petrol is 5%.

Premium fuel: best high-octane petrol

Premium fuel is the best high-octane petrol. Shell V-Power petrol is one of the most popular types of premium fuel and is available at Shell fuel stations across the UK.

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What is the best type of diesel for my vehicle?

Fuel Pumps

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There are two major types of diesel that you can buy in the UK:

  • City diesel/low-sulphur diesel
  • Premium diesel (for example, Shell V-Power diesel).

City diesel/low-sulphur diesel: best for low-cost diesel

The most common type of diesel is known as either city or low-sulphur (it depends on the station you buy your fuel from). It’s the cheapest type of diesel, making it the best option if you’re looking for low-cost fuel.

Premium diesel: best for high-performance diesel

Premium diesel burns quicker and more efficiently, giving you both higher performance and a cleaner engine. Shell V-Power diesel is one of the most commonly used types of premium diesel and is available at Shell petrol stations throughout the UK.

What are the best petrol fuel brands for my vehicle?

Petrol Pump in Car

Credit: Wikimedia

While many drivers may believe that all fuel is the same, there is a difference in quality between the petrol fuel brands you can choose to use for your vehicle. Below, we look at the best petrol fuels for your vehicle.

Shell V-Power petrol

Shell V-Power is approved by four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastien Vettel – Ferrari goes so far as to say that “Shell V-Power is actually 99% the same as the fuel compounds used by the Ferrari F1 team.” And if it’s good enough for Vettel it’s undeniably one of the best petrol fuels for your vehicle.

Sainsbury’s Super Unleaded petrol

Supermarkets are where many people get their fuel because they’re cheap and convenient. Sainsbury’s Super Unleaded petrol comes with the seal of approval from your fellow drivers, who explain that using it allows their vehicles to run “nicely day-to-day.”

BP Ultimate petrol

BP Ultimate petrol is perhaps the best fuel you can use if you want to maximise the performance of your petrol vehicle. This is because its formula is designed to remove harmful deposits in your engine.

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What are the best diesel fuel brands for my vehicle?

Petrol Pumps

Like petrol, there is a difference between the diesel fuels you can choose for your vehicle. Different diesel fuels can affect both the performance and the lifespan of your car, van or lorry. Below, we consider the best diesel fuels for your vehicle.

BP Ultimate diesel

BP Ultimate diesel has active technology. This is important because it helps to clean the dirt from your engine, meaning that your vehicle uses less fuel, runs smoother, and has a higher performance – this makes BP Ultimate diesel one of the best diesel fuels for your vehicle.

Tesco diesel

Tesco is the UK’s biggest largest supermarket chain, with stores and fuel stations across the country. People pick Tesco because it’s cheap, convenient and reliable, and that’s exactly what you get from the supermarket’s diesel too.

Shell V-Power diesel

Shell V-Power diesel is said to be like an athlete’s diet for your vehicle. This is because it features nutritious ingredients for your diesel vehicle, ones that can restore its performance and clean its engine.

Should I pay more money for premium fuel for my vehicle?

There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s more expensive. There’s a reason that premium fuel costs more than the economy version – it’s better for your vehicle.

Premium fuel is designed to do more than just give your vehicle what it needs to complete your journeys. The extras you get from premium fuel include:

  • Cleaner engine
  • Higher-performing vehicle
  • Greater fuel economy

While you will save money in the short-term by using economy fuel, using premium fuel is a sensible long-term investment for your vehicle – it’s one that makes both your fuel and your vehicle last longer.

What are the different types of fuel I can use for my vehicle?

Pump in car

While petrol is comfortably the most common type of fuel you can use for your vehicle, it’s far from the only option. You can also pick from the least eco-friendly (diesel) option to the most eco-friendly (electric) option.

Petrol

Petrol is the most common fuel for cars in the UK, with the Department of Transport reporting that there are 18.5 million licensed petrol cars. Unleaded petrol is more eco-friendly than leaded petrol because it’s mixed with bioethanol.

Diesel

Diesel is the second most popular type of fuel in the UK, with over 16 million diesel cars on the road in 2018. This is despite the UK government continuing to introduce charges and bans on diesel vehicles.

Hybrid

Hybrid fuel combines fossil fuel (petrol or diesel) with electricity. Because they’re cleaner than fossil fuel vehicles and more powerful than most electric transportation, hybrid vehicles are growing in popularity. It’s expected there will be 9 million hybrid cars by 2030.

Electric

Electric vehicles are growing rapidly in popularity. This is for two reasons. Firstly. they’re the greenest type of vehicle you can drive. Secondly, there are more charging stations being created every year.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a combination of butane and propane that’s cheaper than both petrol and diesel. However, you need to have your vehicle converted to be able to use LPG.

Biofuels

Biofuels are more eco-friendly than diesel and petrol because they’re created from renewable organic matter. There are two main types of biofuel – bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is made from corn and sugarcane; biodiesel is made from animal fats and vegetable oils.

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