Filling Premuim: Is your car worth It?

Lifestyle Sunday 24/January/2016 19:18 PM
By: Times News Service
Filling Premuim: Is your car worth It?

As the oil prices plunge globally the oil producing nations are bearing the brunt, and those living in these countries are facing the consequences. Fuel subsidies are being lifted and people are now buying car-food at significantly higher prices. Muscat residents were recently seen queueing near the filling stations as they tried to fill up their rides for one last time at the old prices before the price rise.
The situation however has set one thing right. More and more people are now opting for the Regular grade fuel over Premium. And though they may be doing so as an act of compromise, the step in itself is quite wise. It all comes down to knowledge again.
Unknowingly they were doing a mindless act by filling in their cars like, Yaris, Tida, and Camry with Premium grade fuel. While now they are acting sensibly, by opting for the Regular grade, yet many aren’t aware of the difference between the two. Ask them now, why they were filling with Regular, and most would respond saying, “to save a bit on the dough”.
If you had asked the same guys earlier, why they chose Premium, and quite confidently they could have shot back at you saying they only went with the best.
However, if you were to ask how Premium was better than Regular, you would end up hearing probably the silliest explanation (if you know the real reason that is). Almost concordantly they say Regular is inferior in quality to the Premium. And no matter how sound the assertion might seem to you, it is not at all true. Truth only is that all those commuters filling Premium petrol in their ordinary cars, only waste extra pennies.
Contradictory to the general mindset, Regular grade fuel is by no means inferior to the Premium in quality. The Premium grade is specifically meant for high performance vehicles (Ferrari, Jaguar, Audi, and Range Rovers, having high compression engines.
Regular fuel is as pure and as high quality as the Premium one. The only difference is that the Premium grade has higher octane number, also known as RON (Research Octane Number) – usually 92 or 93+, which is achieved by adding ethanol to the oil.
And quite interestingly, ethanol mixed Premium grade actually contains less energy than the Regular fuel. It is so done to prevent knock on cars with high compression ratios, caused by pre-mature firing.
The compression ratio is the total volume inside the cylinder that is displaced when the piston moves. High compression ratio engines have higher operating temperatures within the combustion chamber, and untreated fuel (Regular) runs the risk of flaming up (from the excessive heat in the chambers) even before the spark plug emits the spark.
This causes a premature blast in the expansion chamber (combustion chamber) and the upcoming pistons are forcedly punched backwards midway, while they were coming up, leading to knocking – the worst thing that could happen to any engine, causing it to disintegrate.
To tackle this situation, the Premium fuel is actually turned milder by increasing the octane number, so it is ignited only when the spark plug emits spark after efficient completion of every engine cycle.
The other additives that are included to reduce carbon build-up inside the engine, improve combustion, inhibit corrosion, and allow easier starting in cold climates. These are contained by the Regular grade oil as well. The only difference is of the octane number.
With the advancement in technology, even the cars which come with a “Recommended” (and not “Strictly Required”) high-octane fuel use could run smoothly on regular fuel without any damage to the engine.
The engine control system sensors compensate for low octane by monitoring knock activity and adjusting ignition advance to avoid knocking. This sophisticated electronic capability effectively tunes the engine on the fly and gives drivers more flexibility in the grade of fuels that they can safely use.
The delay in delivering the retarded spark allows the piston to start moving downward on its expansion stroke before the ignition actually occurs.
This provides additional room in the cylinder head for the gases to expand, thereby reducing thedamaging peak pressure, allowing a controlled ignition.
Because of the retarded ignition, the engine will, of course, produce less power, and have slightly higher fuel consumption. But the poorer fuel economy is likely to be outweighed by the savings at the pump.
However, the performance loss is very slight, and will be noticeable only if you have a regular heavy foot, accelerating rapidly from a dead stop and changing lanes at highway speeds. If you accelerate moderately, the difference in power is barely noticeable.
It is a different story for cars which strictly require Premium fuel. Though they will still run on regular fuel, but you shouldn’t make a habit out of it. The fuel’s lower octane can result in elevated exhaust-gas temperatures and possible knocking, both of which can adversely affect the engine’s health in the long run.
To sum it up for all the ordinary commuting car owners, Premium fuel is of no good to you, given your car doesn’t pack that extra punch (yes, extra compression). And to those who still somehow believe that filling their family Toyota with Premium will somehow make it go faster or deliver more kilometre to the litre, my only piece of advice is: “The only thing that it will make run faster is the money from your pocket. Period”.