Fuel: is it lower quality at supermarkets?

The fuel price at supermarket stations is generally lower than at oil company petrol stations. One might think that the quality of petrol or diesel is different, but is it?
Fuel: is it lower quality at supermarkets?

The origin of the fuel is identical, as are the quality standards

The fuel distributed in the UK comes from six refineries; all unleaded fuel sold in the UK conforms to the same British Standards. However, there are small differences between fuel types that could offer subtle advantages, depending on the type of car you drive.

Adding additives to fuel: oil companies’ promises

Oil companies add so-called ‘comfort’ additives to their fuel to distinguish themselves. Depending on the brand, these additives are designed to

  • improve combustion
  • increase the number of travelled miles
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • protect against corrosion
  • improve fuel system health
  • reduce friction and wear on components
  • optimise engine life

Branded fuel has more additives

While it is true that branded fuel contains more of these additives, whether or not they really improve performance is up for debate. Some research shows that high-grade fuel keeps systems cleaner, reduces emissions and offers better engine performance. However, results are inconclusive, as there are many other variables at play that can affect vehicle performance.

Supermarket fuel can damage your car

This is not true -the tankers that supply branded petrol stations are often the same as those supplying supermarket stations. Depending on your vehicle, you might notice a difference when you use premium fuel, but all the fuel in the UK meets the same standards, so you can use any filling station if you’re after basic fuel.

All fuels meet the same standards

All petrol and diesel sold in the UK must conform to British and European standards -EN228 for unleaded and EN590 for diesel. All the fuel should work in the same way, and you should be able to mix the same grade of fuel without any problems, even if you bought it from different outlets.

Fuel from supermarkets conforms to the same minimum safety and quality standards as that of premium sellers. So there’s no need to worry about getting an inferior product, even if you pay a lower price for fuel at supermarket forecourts.

Therefore, the place of supply has very little impact, especially if you have a more recent car model. Check the engine pressure rating in the manufacturer’s guide to determine which fuel to use for older vehicles.