The 6 Most Common Types Of Fuel

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The 6 Most Common Types Of Fuel

When purchasing a new vehicle these days you will find that there are many different types of fuel options. Each type of fuel has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Here is a basic outline of each of the most common types of fuels you will find when purchasing a new vehicle:


Unleaded Petrol (ULP) usually has a Research Octane Number of 91 to 92 and is the recommended fuel for the majority of passenger vehicles in Australia since it was introduced. ULP was introduced in 1986 in an effort to remove lead from petrol, which can be harmful to people’s health and the environment.


Premium Unleaded Petrol (PULP) has a higher Research Octane Number than standard ULP. PULP is usually at 95 to 96 Research Octane Number, although there are an increasing number of service stations offering 98 octane. Most cars requiring ULP do not require PULP, however many imported cars and particularly those with turbochargers, respond well to PULP.

These high performance cars are often designed for high-octane fuel and use sensors to retard ignition when using regular petrol. This enables satisfactory operation but at a penalty in power or economy. PULP generally enables operation at maximum efficiency. It is best to check your vehicles handbook to determine what type of petrol is recommended.

Ethanol And E10

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is a clear, colourless liquid, generally manufactured from grain or sugar. In South Australia, ethanol is provided to motorists as E10 where the fuel contains a maximum 10% ethanol and minimum 90% oil based petrol.


Opal has a Research Octane Number of 91 and is a low aromatic unleaded fuel that can be used in all applications that require normal ULP. Opal fuel is manufactured by BP and due to its reduced aromatic levels, has been introduced to areas of the community in an attempt to reduce the incidence of petrol sniffing.


Diesel used by vehicles is derived from the distillation of crude oil and is used by many areas of the Australian economy, not just transport. Currently Australian motorists use Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) where the level of sulphur has been reduced to 10ppm. Diesel engines generally are more fuel-efficient and have a better engine durability compared to petrol engines, however many models without a particulate filter emit particulate or soot into the air.


LPG – also called Autogas – is a mixture of mainly Propane and Butane gases and has a minimum Motor Octane Rating of 91. LPG is often confused with Natural Gas which is mainly methane gas. At room temperature LPG is a gas, but when it is compressed into a vehicle’s cylinder it becomes liquid. A chemical called ethyl mercaptan is added to allow people to smell or identify LPG in case of a leak.

To learn more about the different types of fuels and check out the South Australian fuel price guide go to the RAA’s Fuel Information Page…