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Importance of knowing the right octane for your car

KUWAIT: This file photo shows cars lined up at a gas station in Kuwait City on August 1, 2016. —Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh
KUWAIT: This file photo shows cars lined up at a gas station in Kuwait City on August 1, 2016. —Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikhc

KUWAIT: As the Kuwait government increases the prices of petrol, the Premium 91 is expected to go up to 85 fils from the present 60 fils per liter while the Premium Super 95 will cost you 105 fils, 40 fils more than the current price of 65 fils. The price of Ultra 98 will go up to 165 fils from 90 fils. That means for an average driver who fills his car using Octane 95 at the cost of about KD 15 or KD 20 a month will have to shell out approximately KD 24 or KD 32 respectively per month after the increase.

Many drivers may think of using lower octane rating petrol, which is cheaper, and may wonder if they can do so. To answer this question we must first know what is octane number or rating. In simple words, it is a measure of ignition quality of petrol. The number starts from 0 to 100 with some fuel having a rating more than 100.

The higher the number, the lesser the tendency to “knocking” (Combustion caused by premature burning of fuel in the combustion chamber). This premature burning occurs when fuel mixture burns before the time determined for normal burning initiated by spark ignition. Premature burning causes shockwaves which will damage the engine if allowed to run for a long time. This knocking can sometimes be unnoticeable, and only evident under severe driving conditions. So, coming back to our question, the wise thing to do is to use petrol having the octane rating recommended by the manufacturer.

In addition, it may be noted that there is no benefit of unnecessarily paying more by filling higher octane petrol than recommended by your car manufacturer which can be found in your car’s owner manual. Some cars can run on a slightly lower octane rating than recommended by electronically detecting knock and delaying the spark timing at the expense of power output and economy.

By Alwatheq Darwish

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