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We’re addressing that age-old question today – is cheaper fuel the same as that from premium brands, and do you see reduced MPG if you use it?

Price and location are the two biggest factors when it comes to buying fuel; the fuel station with the cheapest price per gallon is always going to be popular, although if you’re passing by a different one it may make more sense to stop than drive further to save 1p per gallon. That said, there are many drivers who swear that buying cheaper (standard) fuel will not only lower your MPG, but can also damage your car, so will never deviate from their preferred brand no matter how much it costs.

Is this fact or fiction?

The simple answer is, nobody knows for sure. Or at least, there’s no definite evidence that sways one brand of fuel over another. When it comes to the standard fuel (not premium blends that are more expensive anyway), the reality is that so many different factors come into play every time an engine works that even a minor shift can significantly change how efficiently they work.

Of course, modern fuel-injection systems do measure, check and adjust the engine to whatever elements such as air pressure, humidity and temperature are like, optimising fuel usage accordingly. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a fair test comparing one type of fuel to another when the conditions outside the car will vary from day to day or hour to hour. Indeed, it would also really be noticeable when a FI system had completed altered the fuelling strategy under extreme loads, not your everyday driving.

What we do know

  • All fuel sold in the UK has the same base and comes from the same refineries.
  • All fuel sold in the UK has to meet national and international fuel standards, regardless of the station you fill up at.
  • All brands of fuel are stored in totally sealed containers which do not allow for exposure to the atmosphere, thus preventing against the fuel going stale.

Ultimately, the best advice really is to buy from where you feel comfortable and can afford. Testing to prove one way or another is likely to be expensive and extensive, so unlikely to be carried out unless major issues are identified with fuel from supermarkets vs big brands in the future.