When choosing a new car, most of us think carefully about the impact it will have on our wallets.
Surveys have identified that car buyers consider price, running costs, reliability and fuel efficiency to be more important than a vehicle’s safety rating, performance or aesthetic appeal.
The fact that safety isn’t the number one concern for those looking for a new car is perhaps not a huge surprise. Vehicles today are safer than they have ever been, with many modern cars fitted with an array of complex safety features, from lane departure warning alerts to autonomous emergency braking. What seems to be of greater concern for many car drivers is whether their vehicle will be reliable and economical to run. So, what does this have to do with fuel ethers?
Fuel ethers such as ETBE and MTBE enable the production of high-octane petrol, eliminating knocking-related engine failure and vehicle underperformance
How fuel ethers can help prevent engine damage
One benefit of using fuel ethers in your fuel is that they are fundamental to formulating petrol that prevents knocking, a problem that can potentially lead to engine failure – and costly repair bills – if not dealt with early. The term ‘knocking’ refers to the low, rattling sound that drivers sometimes hear from within their engine, often when driving uphill. This sound can be a warning sign that engine failure is imminent.
Knocking can have a variety of causes, one of which is that a car is using a fuel that has a lower octane rating than the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation.
For an engine to work properly, fuel needs to burn in even waves that match the cycles of the engine. Knocking can occur if the fuel combusts and burns prematurely – i.e. before it is ignited by the spark plug. When the fuel burns improperly in this way, it can potentially damage pistons and other components within the engine.
The higher a fuel’s octane rating, the better it will resist unwanted premature ignition. Fuel ethers such as ETBE and MTBE enable the production of high-octane petrol, eliminating knocking-related engine failure and vehicle underperformance.
A leading breakdown and recovery service spokesperson says: “Knocking isn’t something that develops overnight, and unlike some mechanical faults, the sound does at least give a motorist some warning of the problem. However, if it is not addressed, knocking will eventually lead to engine failure, which can be expensive to rectify. To prevent engine knock, it is important to ensure your vehicle is properly maintained and serviced.”
With vehicle maintenance and repair costs soaring – in some parts of Europe, for example, motorists are spending as much as €85 a month on repairs and maintenance, while in the US they represent 8.8% of the overall cost of running a car – drivers will be keen to avoid having to pay a visit to a mechanic to have the fault diagnosed and fixed. Using proper octane petrol containing fuel ethers could, therefore, prove economical in the long run for many drivers.
What about fuel efficiency?
Preventing engine damage is not the only cash saving benefit that fuel ethers can offer motorists.
High-compression engines require high-octane fuels and allow fuel to burn more efficiently. Fuel ethers provide the higher octane that allows such engines to deliver greater useful mechanical action (power and/or mileage) for the same amount of petrol used. This can increase the distance a vehicle can travel on a tank of fuel by up to 15%.
Preventing engine damage is not the only cash saving benefit that fuel ethers can offer motorists
The extent of the fuel efficiency benefit will depend on a variety of factors, including the way the vehicle is driven, the road conditions and the specific requirements of the engine. Drivers of high performance engines are likely to notice the greatest improvement in fuel efficiency, but any motorist using petrol with a higher octane rating, even occasionally, can expect to
Fuel efficiency will become an increasingly important issue for the automobile industry in the years ahead. With emissions targets requiring lower pollution from the transport sector, lowering the environmental impact of road vehicles is crucial to the success of the Paris climate agreement. Making cars more efficient, and therefore cheaper to run, can also play a key role in supporting this transition.