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Feeding the engine

We can understand what happens when you eat the wrong food. The day will be ruined, spent rushing to the washroom, and if you’re lucky, the situation will only last for a day.

Therefore, we place great importance on the places we eat, and more importantly, what we ingest. The same careful consideration should be put to where we fuel our vehicles, for fuel is the food for our cars’ engines. To get the right petrol to put in your car, you should consult with the manual, or the Internet.

Petrol is of two main types in Kenya: high-octane at 95 or ‘normal’ octane of 93. Diesel also comes with an octane of 93. The reason octane rating is important is because, if you put low octane fuel in an engine with a high compression ratio, you run the risk of engine knocks.

Luckily, most cars in the world run on a 91 octane-rated fuel and come equipped with knock sensors to adjust in case of problems. Using a higher-octane fuel can’t harm your engine. However, the benefits tend to be overstated, especially in motoring circles.

Making the difference seems almost nitrous-powered, when it simply isn’t. The truth is, you either get more performance or better fuel efficiency.

Even that will be a 10 per cent gain at most, either way. The added price doesn’t justify it unless the engine has been modified for much higher compression.

It comes down, therefore, to personal preferences and warmth of the wallet. One reason you should be especially careful with where you fuel is that, fuel also contains detergents.

These help in cleaning the engine of deposits and keeping the injectors unclogged. If the fuel is adulterated, it loses this cleaning potency and alters the octane rating.

The literally dirty fuel will, therefore, not only clog your system, but also lead to engine knocking, which could literally kill your engine!

Periodically, apart from price regulation, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also publishes petrol stations that sell adulterated fuel.

Keep in mind that they cut across brand and one dirty station doesn’t necessarily mean all are dirty. They should be avoided individually.

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