Some motorists are needlessly spending hundreds of dollars extra a year pumping premium fuel into cars that don’t require it, the RACV says.

While some vehicle models have to run on premium petrol to avoid engine damage risk, many do not derive any benefit from pricier fuel, according to the motoring body.

RACV research has found filling up with the most expensive premium unleaded (PULP 98) adds $239.40 to an average annual fuel bill compared with regular unleaded.

It also calculated that the cheapest-priced fuel, ethanol E10, ended up $8.29 costlier over a year than regular unleaded. That was because it was less energy efficient, so more had to be used to travel the same distance.

For a typical car, Victorians driving an average 14,000 a year shelled out $1776.60 for regular unleaded; $1784.89 for E10; $1927.80 for premium unleaded 95; and $2016 for premium unleaded 98.

The research was based on the average fuel price for the last financial year.

RACV general manager public policy Bryce Prosser said premium unleaded was needed for some vehicles, particularly European models, because other types of fuel may damage the engine and void the warranty.

“Premium fuels can improve performance but do not contain more energy than regular petrol, they are designed for higher-performance engines,” Mr Prosser said.

“While unnecessary for most vehicles, RACV is reminding motorists that some cars still require premium fuel, such as European-made models from car manufacturers like Volkswagen, Peugeot and Fiat.

“Using regular unleaded fuel and E10 may damage the engine and void the warranty so it is best to follow the guidelines of the manufacturer.

“RACV advises motorists to look at the owner’s manual. If it suggests using 95 or 98 to improve performance, but also states it is also safe to use 91, then it is up to the driver to decide their preference.”

The RACV estimates only one-fifth of cars sold require premium fuels.

Manufacturer advice should also be sought on whether ethanol fuel is suitable for particular vehicles.

Extracted from Daily Telegraph