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Sunday, Jul 25, 2004

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Branded petrol

S. Muralidhar

I have been driving a Maruti Esteem for two years and have been using only regular unleaded petrol. My friends have been urging me to use the Speed brand petrol claiming that it is good for the car's engine.

However, some other acquaintances of mine tell me not to use the Speed brand, but, instead use IOC's XtraPremium brand as it is said to be better than the former. Which one should I use — Speed or XtraPremium? What will happen to my car's engine if I suddenly start using branded petrol? What is the difference between the two and what do they contain?

Peeyush Verma

Branded petrol, such as Bharat Petroleum's Speed and Indian Oil's XtraPremium, are either (as in the case of the former brand) regular unleaded petrol that have been treated with multifunctional additives or high-octane petrol (as is the case with the latter) that has been treated with additives to boost the performance and power characteristics of engines.

Most new generation cars launched in the country after 1990s need better quality fuel to be able to offer their best in terms of smooth, knock-free performance and peak power output. The cost of maintaining the car and the cost of spares that need frequent replacement will also be reduced with the use of better quality fuel.

Further, the important point that tends to be always ignored is the longevity of equipment and components in the car that go on to reduce exhaust emissions such as the catalytic converter.

Over the first two years of the car's usage, components, such as the fuel injectors, fuel intake valves and ports, carburettor and the combustion chamber, tend to slowly accumulate carbon deposits that affect the engine's performance. This accumulation of deposits and their effect on performance is even more pronounced in the new generation, Euro II compliant passenger car gasoline engines that feature multi-point fuel injection; the effect of deposit accumulation and its effect on optimum fuel injection will be felt even in carburetted engines.

Bharat Petroleum's Speed is a blend of petrol and multi-functional additives, sourced from Chevron Oronite Company LLC, a ChevronTexaco company. The additives comply with EPA 97 (Environment Protection Agency, US) requirements.

Speed is said to contain unique deposit control additives that effectively remove harmful deposits from all fuel metering systems and components resulting in a better overall engine performance, including easy starting and smooth idling, maximises power and acceleration, reduced emission and elimination of engine knocking.

Overall, the benefits of using Speed are said to be improved mileage and reduced maintenance costs in the long run for all petrol engines, including those of two wheelers.

Indian Oil's XtraPremium is also unleaded petrol that comes pre-mixed with additives.

However, only in this case, the base fuel, in addition, comes with a higher 91 Octane content. Indian Oil XtraPremium's high-octane level and additives are said to give the engine better anti-knocking and engine-cleansing qualities.

Similar to Speed, XtraPremium will also improve mileage and reduce emissions in the long run. Complete combustion of the high-octane petrol will of course improve the engine's responsiveness, acceleration and build up mileage in the long run.

Both these fuel brands are priced about Rs 1.4 to Rs 2 per litre more than regular unleaded petrol. Regular use of either of these brands of petrol right from when the vehicle was brand new would have given you better results.

It is never too late to start out using these branded fuels. We will recommend using XtraPremium high-octane fuel for quicker results as your car is already two years old.

Of course, the risk of a mild loss of power and performance exists, if you revert back to regular unleaded fuel.

(Queries may be sent to: q&a@thehindu.co.in or by post to Q&A, Business Line, 859/860, Kasturi Buildings, Anna Salai, Chennai - 600 002.)

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