Which grade of diesel should you use at the bowser?

Considering today’s ever improving diesel engines, our Members have been asking which grade of diesel should they choose at the pump.


DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Pricing is not the only thing you need to consider when filling up at the bowser.

NRMA Motoring Advice recommends the Low Sulphur grade Premium Diesel option, as this is the only type of fuel that is compatible with today’s diesel fuel systems. 

In older vehicles, the usage of  regular diesel can cause significant sulphuric acid build up which quickly corrodes piston rings, cylinder linings, valves and cylinder head. Oil changes are also required frequently, doubling the vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations.

For newer vehicles, high pressure diesel direct-injection systems such as common rail diesel engines are highly sensitive to high sulphur fuels. Also, electronic metering systems are rendered inaccurate by deteriorating fuel injector pins.

Overall, high sulfur fuels increase vehicle repair and maintenance costs are for both vehicle types. Low sulphur diesel can be used in any vehicle or stationary diesel engine that currently runs on regular diesel.

Low sulphur diesel summary:

  • Reduces sulphur in fuel potentially reduces the risk of corrosive wear in the engine;
  • Reduces the sulphur content does not inhibit engine performance; and
  • Reduces sulphur facilitates the introduction of new diesel exhaust treatment catalyst which will further enhance the reduction of environmentally sensitive diesel emissions;
  • Reduces the ultra fine particles from diesel engine exhausts will improve local air quality;
  • Reduces sulphur dioxide emissions, which contribute to acid rain, will reduce the risk of acid rain occurring.

Are you a regular user of low sulphur diesel? Have you noticed any improvements to your vehicle’s running and repair costs?

Have any more questions that you would like us to answer? Our Motoring Advice Team are available to provide advice and information on just about anything motoring related for NRMA Members. You can reach the team on 13 11 22 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)

NRMA to fight any unfair petrol tax hike

Fuel price excise increase

BOWSER GOUGE: Our Members constantly tell us that the price of fuel is one of their biggest concerns when it comes to motoring and the NRMA will ensure that our Members’ interests are forcefully represented at a national level.

NRMA Motoring & Services has condemned any potential move by the Abbott Government to increase the fuel excise as part of this year’s Federal Budget as a cash grab.

NRMA President Wendy Machin has slammed any move to increase the nation-wide tax on fuels, saying it’s an unfair increase which will hit nearly every Australian’s hip pocket, regardless of their individual circumstances.

“The Federal Government already collects more than it spends on roads and transport infrastructure, so there is absolutely no basis for this unfair tax hike,” said Ms Machin.

“Last year’s budget estimated $15 billion would be collected from motorists from the fuel tax, however Federal Government expenditure on roads for the same period was estimated at $3.9 billion,” she said.

“In other words only 10 cents out of every 38.1 cents per litre collected as the fuel tax is actually spent on road infrastructure, that’s less than a third.

“Many people have no option other than to drive, it’s an essential cost of living whether it’s getting to work or delivering the goods and services our country needs every day.

“Whether you’re dropping the kids off to school or visiting a sick relative in hospital, any increase in fuel tax will mean you will pay more.

“Any attempt by the Australian Government to increase the fuel excise without prior consultation would be viewed by the NRMA as a cash grab which would only serve to place increased pressure on the cost of living for everyday Australians.

“Make no mistake, increasing the fuel excise will mean we’ll have to pay more for what should be a basic right to mobility.

“The NRMA has long campaigned for the need for the road network to receive a fairer share of funding from the taxes that are currently paid by motorists, including the fuel excise.

“Our Members constantly tell us that the price of fuel is one of their biggest concerns when it comes to motoring and the NRMA will ensure that our Members’ interests are forcefully represented at a national level.

“Should next week’s Federal Budget reveal any potential increase to the fuel excise, the NRMA which represents 2.5 million Members, along with the other motoring clubs nationally, will step up their fight against any unfair and unjustified tax hikes on motorists.”

How you would feel if the fuel excise was increased?

Diesel – fuel for thought

In the third part of our Fuel series, we look at diesel.

diesel pump at petrol station

Are diesel cars more fuel-efficient?

As price-pressured motorists look to get more bang from their buck, sales of diesel light vehicles have increased rapidly over the last couple of years.  Due to lower fuel consumption rates than an equivalent petrol engine, diesel engines are the standard in heavy vehicles. So why not in light engines too?


  • Modern diesel engines are as quiet, smooth and powerful as petrol engines and are more fuel-efficient.


  • One disadvantage often mentioned by NRMA Members is that diesel handpieces at garages often have a film of diesel fuel over them, as any spillage does not evaporate as quickly as petrol.  And if the diesel gets on your hands or clothing, the smell is difficult to remove. Retailers are making efforts to avoid this but have not yet found a perfect system.


  • Diesel fuel does not contain more energy than petrol. In fact, it contains marginally less.
  • Whereas the intake of a petrol engine has a throttle blade in it, which forms an obstruction and reduces efficiency, a diesel engine doesn’t. Therefore, it gets lower fuel consumption.
  • Diesel variants are often more expensive to purchase than the petrol ones, so if your interest is purely in lower running costs, make sure it is going to make sense for you by checking out the NRMA’s Car Operating Cost Calculator.
  • In many cases, the higher initial purchase cost outweighs the reduced fuel cost.  But you are also gambling on the price of diesel staying similar to petrol over several years.
  • If you have never driven a diesel-engined vehicle and are considering purchasing one, you should test drive a few to see how it feels.

If you drive a diesel car, do you feel you’ve you got your money back in reduced fuel/servicing costs?  And are you happy with the driving characteristics of diesel?

Ethanol in petrol – is it ok for my car?

This is the second blog in our series on Fuels.  In the first blog we looked at premium fuels, now we take a look at ethanol in petrol (E10 and E85).

ethanol in petrol

Does an ethanol petrol blend affect the performance of your car?


E10 is standard unleaded petrol (ULP) with 10% ethanol added. Expanded use of E10 is a strategy endorsed by the NRMA Board and aims to encourage the take-up of ethanol – which is locally produced and reduces Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels. Straight unleaded is now getting harder to find.

Vehicles built pre-1986, some post-1986 vehicles, most small engines such as chainsaws and whipper-snippers and most Japanese motorcycles are recommended NOT to use ethanol. These vehicles and power tools will have to use premium petrol when ULP becomes unavailable.

Motorists whose vehicles cannot use ethanol should be aware that all petrol distributed by United contains ethanol except its Premium 98. View a list of all petrol grades available in NSW.

The octane of E10 is commonly 93-94, so motorists whose vehicles are specified for 95 octane fuel should be cautious using E10. If you want to try E10 check that there are no unusual noises like rattling or pinging under acceleration, which is a sign that the octane is too low.  United claims its E10 is 95 octane.

Check whether your vehicle is suitable to use an ethanol petrol blend.

A refuel of 50 litres at a price difference of 10 cents a litre between E10 and premium would cost an extra $5.   But this has to be kept in perspective with the overall cost of running a vehicle.


You should not use E85 in any vehicle that is not designed for it. The only cars designed for E85 are the current model Holden Commodores that are so marked and the Saab Biofuel range.  For other vehicles, check the recommendation in the owner’s manual or check with the dealer or manufacturer and adopt their recommendation.

In our next blog, we’ll take a look at Diesel.

Do you use an ethanol petrol blend in your car? What affect has it had on your car’s performance and reliability?

Petrol grades currently available in NSW*

Company Fuel Name Research Octane Number – RON
7 Eleven Unleaded 91 91 ULP – Unleaded Petrol
Premium unleaded 95 95 Premium
Premium unleaded 98 98 Ultra Premium
Unleaded E10 93-94 ULP +10% ethanol
Diesel N/A Diesel
BP Unleaded 91 91 ULP
Unleaded 95 95 Premium
BP Ultimate 98 Ultra Premium
e10 Unleaded 93-94 ULP +10% ethanol
Diesel N/A Diesel
Shell/Coles Unleaded 91 ULP
Premium 95 Premium
V-Power 98 Ultra Premium
Unleaded E10 93-94 ULP+10% ethanol
Diesel 10 N/A Diesel
Caltex/Woolworths Unleaded 91 ULP
Vortex 95 95 Premium
Vortex 98 98 Ultra Premium
E10 unleaded 93-94 ULP+10% ethanol
New Generation Diesel N/A Diesel + 2% biodiesel
Bio B5 N/A Diesel + 5% biodiesel
Bio B20 N/A Diesel + 20% biodiesel
E85 100+ ULP + up to 85% ethanol
United Petroleum Plus ULP 95 ULP+10% ethanol
Boost 98 98 Premium +10% ethanol
Premium 98 98 Ultra Premium
E85 (only available in Rozelle) 100+ ULP+ up to 85% ethanol
Diesel N/A Diesel
Liberty Unleaded 91 ULP
e10 Unleaded 93-94 ULP+10% ethanol
Premium unleaded 95 Premium

*not all available at all sites