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UK Supermarket fuels - cost effective?


Guest ChrisB

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Guest ChrisB

I travel regularly between Dorset and the Midlands using the same poor A-road route (very little dual carriageway – the longest stretch being around 5 miles N of Chippenham).

I usually fill up at the local Shell garage and set the trip etc. to 0. On return, almost without exception, the mpg reading (2.3 Fiat Ducato) has been 28.4 over around 350 miles.

I have twice recently been taken in by the 5p-6p off offers at local supermarkets (Tesco and Morrisons). On both occasions the mpg reading has been significantly lower than normal with no change in route or driving conditions (the best was 27.9mpg). This represents around 1.75% increase in fuel consumption which cancels out most of the reduced cost for the fuel (the Shell station prices are normally the same as the Morrisons supermarket nearby).

I always try to avoid supermarket diesel when possible because I believe it to be inferior to the likes of Shell/BP/Esso (irrational?).

Not a scientific study on any level, but has anyone else noticed any reduction in mpg or other undesired effects of supermarket fuels (motorhomes, cars, towing etc.)? With modern engines is it worth the risk?

Chris

 

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You really shouldn't notice ANY difference whatsoever.

 

There are only four main oil refineries for road fuels (and other "light crude" oils) in the UK and those four supply EVERY retail garage, regardless of the retail "brand".

 

It's the same stuff, the mix and octane is just the same; it matters not what the retailing company name sign above the garage is.

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Guest Peter James

When supermarkets first started selling fuel, local garages could not compete on price, so started these totally unfounded rumours that supermarket fuel is inferior. AS BGD says, not only are there only 4 refiners, but they supply fuel to each other's filling stations to reduce transport distances - each one supplying the other's stations in the vicinity of their own fuel depots.

There are sometimes good reasons to boycott supermarket fuel when they sell it at a loss to force a local garage out of busines, then put the price up again. (called predatory pricing and illegal in some other countries) But fuel quality is not one of them because it comes out of the same tank.

Incidentally my X2/50 van computer shows the fuel consumption to be about 10% less than it really is. - showing 33mpg when I am actually getting 30mpg.

 

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Hi,

 

Many years ago, a woman invoked Trading Standards, because she had watched a JET tanker (that's how long ago :-D ) discharging into the tanks of a garage while she was filling her car with what she thought was National Benzole. It got her nowhere, as it was declared that all petrol was the same.

 

Having said that, in the 1970s, my Hillman Imp always "pinked" badly on Esso.

 

I understand that there are permited tolerances in the setting of the fuel delivery pumps ....... perhaps 1%. Does anyone know?

 

602

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602 - 2011-06-13 6:51 AM

 

Hi,

 

Many years ago, a woman invoked Trading Standards, because she had watched a JET tanker (that's how long ago :-D ) discharging into the tanks of a garage while she was filling her car with what she thought was National Benzole. It got her nowhere, as it was declared that all petrol was the same.

 

Having said that, in the 1970s, my Hillman Imp always "pinked" badly on Esso.

 

I understand that there are permited tolerances in the setting of the fuel delivery pumps ....... perhaps 1%. Does anyone know?

 

602

 

 

 

 

The legal tolerance is "plus 10ml to minus 5 ml" per "litre".

Thus it is between plus 1% and minus 0.5%.

 

 

 

 

From Leicestershire CC Trading Standards website:

"All of the petrol pumps in Leicestershire are tested frequently by Trading Standards Officers.

By law the pumps are required to meet stringent requirements for accuracy to ensure that any errors in the amount of fuel dispensed are within certain tolerances.

This means that a petrol pump can deliver up to 10ml extra per litre of fuel and is only allowed to deliver 5ml less per litre of fuel - and bear in mind that a teaspoon is approximately 5ml.

Any pump found to be outside of the tolerances is put out of use until the problem is corrected. All of the adjustable parts of a pump are also sealed to prevent them being tampered with to protect customers and honest traders.

However, if you think that a pump is delivering an inaccurate amount of fuel please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06"

 

 

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Well as Tracker invited comment - here goes everyone's preconceptions.

 

There is a difference between the Fuels available on forecourts.

 

Yes - THE MAJORITY of the fuel comes from the 9 UK Refineries, but there are also several independant importers from the Rotterdam spot market. (but some of that can include previously exported UK fuel coming back)

For the UK Refineries, have a look here:-

http://www.ukpia.com/industry_information/refining-and-uk-refineries/refineries.aspx

 

The Refineries also pump fuel by shared pipeline to various Storage Distribution depots around the country. (Think in terms of a National Fuel Grid ) & also many Airports.for example United Kingdom Oil Pipelines - being joint ventures and others belonging to the Government.

 

http://www.ukpia.com/Libraries/Download/Map-Key.sflb.ashx

 

All these fuels must conform to the relevant British / EU / Internatonal Standards, (ISO/EN/BS - for those familiar with Quality systems).

 

BUT it does not stop there.

In general terms Supermarket fuel therefore comply with the Standards, but will not have the same additives that you get with"Trademark" fuels from the Oil Majors (BP, Shell, Texaco, Total, etc.)

 

As I have posted previously in earlier threads, the Oil Majors sell "basic" fuels to the Supermarkets & Independant suppliers, they also Fuel share between each other.

 

The difference comes at the point of loading the Tanker (whether at a Refinery or Distribution Depot) the "Oil Majors" have their own dedicated filling point. This is where they add their own individual Additive(s) which will be (for want of a better word) performance enhancing or to help keep engines cleaner.

The Oil Majors spend huge budgets on continually monitoring, testing & improving these additives to to gain a marketing advantage & increase their market share.

THIS IS WHY YOU PAY A PREMIUM FOR BRANDED FUEL,

Having spent R&D costs to gain market advantage, the OIl Majors do not make the latest generation Additives available to the Supermarkets or Independants.

 

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Just to clarify my post last night.

Supermarket fuel will NOT be detrimental for your engine..

It's just that the Branded fuels have the latest technology additives.

Supermarket / Independant fuels may be "basic" fuel or may have older technology additives.

 

 

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Just very slightly veering off topic.  We travel fairly frequently between home (Fishguard) and Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. 

We always try to fill up in Abergavenny because there are two major brand filling stations just on the western outskirts of the town which are always 2-6p cheaper than others on our route.  I think this may be be because they are just past the turning south to take the 'heads of the valleys' route and they need to draw the custom?

Anyway my point is that there may be a better priced station just round the corner!  We try to price check on:  http://www.petrolprices.com/  but they're not always completely up to date as they take the price from fuel card users.

 

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602 - 2011-06-15 6:33 AM

 

Hi

 

What amazes me is that the tanker driver appears to measure everything with a dip-stick. There seems to be room for some error there. Or have I got that wrong?

 

602

 

Not wrong 602, just not the complete picture.

Tankers have multiple compartments to accomodate several deliveries

The Tankers' filling is Metered & they have a Delivery Meter fitted.

Firstly the Tanker Driver will Dip the Delivery Tank, to ensure that it will take the full load ordered.

If necessary, the Tanker Meter can then be programmed to stop short of overfilling the Delivery Tank.

The post delivery Dip is just a check to ensure overfilling has not occurred.

Not so many years ago, if the Delivery Tank could not take the load ordered, some Tankers would simply turn around without delivering any fuel.

 

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Hi,

 

I have read this before, but what still has me confused is if they are spending these huge budgets on these enhancements/additives why aren't they advertising the facts to gain a marketing advantage,

 

Only I have never noticed/seen any advertisements by the majors telling us that there STANDARD fuel is better than the supermarkets and perhaps more importantly that it contains these additional additives that their competitors fuel doesn't have.

 

The only time I have seen them advertising premium fuel is when they have introduced an additional range of fuel which carries an extra cost option over their standard fuel.

 

 

 

flicka - 2011-06-14 12:12 AM

The Oil Majors spend huge budgets on continually monitoring, testing & improving these additives to to gain a marketing advantage & increase their market share.

THIS IS WHY YOU PAY A PREMIUM FOR BRANDED FUEL,

Having spent R&D costs to gain market advantage, the OIl Majors do not make the latest generation Additives available to the Supermarkets or Independants.

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Alll of which brings us back to the age old, and seemingly unanswerable, question -

 

Is there any tangible benefit either in mpg or engine care in paying more for your fuel or is it all a smokescreen and snake oil just to extract more cash from the gullible?

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Apologies if this has been mentioned before.

 

What is being forgotten is that 90% of fuel stations are leased or rented, Texaco do not OWN the garage round the corner, the owner is selling Texaco fuel by licence or franchise.

Therefore they have to buy the fuel from Texaco, or BP etc, and resell to make a profit, there are no independant retailers that can match Tesco, Morrisons etc's prices, simply because the supermarket chains buy in bulk for the whole network and not just one garage.

A friend of mine owned a garage years ago, and used to get a daily phone call from Tesco to tell him how much they were selling fuel for at the station a mile away, they told him never to try to undercut them as they would just drop their price again and again, eventually putting him out of business. (which they eventually did).

 

At the end of the day, even if there was a difference in fuel consumption, it will be that small as to not really make a concernable difference, much the same as when people get so het up about a 1p per litre price increase, it means at most, an extra 60 odd pence to fill your tank, use that figure over a 2 week trip to europe, it equates to not much more than a decent bottle of wine.

 

Life is for enjoyment, it's short enough as it is, and your wanderings in your M/home are merely an added enjoyment. Stop worrying about trivialities that amount to pennies, and bask in the pleasure of it all whilst you still can.

 

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donna miller - 2011-06-17 9:00 AM

 

Apologies if this has been mentioned before.

 

What is being forgotten is that 90% of fuel stations are leased or rented, Texaco do not OWN the garage round the corner, the owner is selling Texaco fuel by licence or franchise.

Therefore they have to buy the fuel from Texaco, or BP etc, and resell to make a profit, there are no independant retailers that can match Tesco, Morrisons etc's prices, simply because the supermarket chains buy in bulk for the whole network and not just one garage.

A friend of mine owned a garage years ago, and used to get a daily phone call from Tesco to tell him how much they were selling fuel for at the station a mile away, they told him never to try to undercut them as they would just drop their price again and again, eventually putting him out of business. (which they eventually did).

 

At the end of the day, even if there was a difference in fuel consumption, it will be that small as to not really make a concernable difference, much the same as when people get so het up about a 1p per litre price increase, it means at most, an extra 60 odd pence to fill your tank, use that figure over a 2 week trip to europe, it equates to not much more than a decent bottle of wine.

 

Life is for enjoyment, it's short enough as it is, and your wanderings in your M/home are merely an added enjoyment. Stop worrying about trivialities that amount to pennies, and bask in the pleasure of it all whilst you still can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good post; and Amen to the last paragraph.

 

 

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donna miller - 2011-06-17 9:00 AM

Life is for enjoyment, it's short enough as it is, and your wanderings in your M/home are merely an added enjoyment. Stop worrying about trivialities that amount to pennies, and bask in the pleasure of it all whilst you still can.

 

Absolutely Donna!

 

But it would still be nice to know whether the oil company's justification for charging more for ostensibly the same litre of liquid is in fact justified or just a con?

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flicka - 2011-06-14 12:42 PM

 

Just to clarify my post last night.

Supermarket fuel will NOT be detrimental for your engine..

It's just that the Branded fuels have the latest technology additives.

Supermarket / Independant fuels may be "basic" fuel or may have older technology additives.

 

 

you may want to cast your mind back a couple of years and rethink that statement. ;-)

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I accept your point Colin,

but it was an isolated occurance (although very costly for those affected) from Fuel in Storage Depot not operated by the Oil Majors, but the Supermarkets, with products coming from numerous sources (& not just European.)

From memory - the Bulk Storage Petrol Tank was cross contaminated with either diesel or an imported Fuel, but I cant find the outcome of the enquiry findings, ( possibly not gone far enough back)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_UK_petrol_contamination

 

 

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I'm wondering whether some of those drivers who are claiming higher fuel consumption using supermarket fuel, don't subconsiously drive a bit more aggressively because the fuel is cheaper ?

 

And one more point, I doubt very much whether you completely drain your tanks before making comparison, so how do you know that it's not the additives in the BP, Esso,etc. fuel, that is reacting with the supermarket fuel to give you detrimental figures.

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I generally refuel when the tank is almost empty which means adding about 50 litres to a 55 litre tank.

 

It is my perception from using the permanent on screen mpg indicator on the Toyota RAV4 2.2 td that I get about 42 mpg on Tesco diesel, and around 44 mpg on Morrisons diesel? I can't explain why and I could be wrong but it is based on at least two tankfuls from each.

 

That is of course highly unscientific and is based on broadly similar use locally over about two to three weeks and 450 miles to each tankful.

 

I intend trying some branded fuel for the next tankful just to compare and it would be interesting to note other folk's experience.

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Which Magazine did a thorough and scientific test as only they can and concluded that there was no disadvantage in using supermarket fuel. They found no discernible diference between standard fuel sold at independents or at supermarkets.

I simply don't believe all this business about supermarket fuel being different. When Tesco buys cigarettes, Kelloggs Cornflakes or milk from the farmer, it's exactly the same stuff as anyone else buys. I cannot accept that the major supermarkets would accept a lower quality product than the independent down the road and the only reason for the lower price at the big supermarket chains is their massive buying power.

All this business about getting better mileage is very fanciful. A friend of mine once tried selling those magnet thingys that go around your fuel line and are supposed to give you better mileage. Everyone buying one got better mpg - for a week or two. Having spent the money on this gadget they want to believe that it will work and consciously or sub-consciously they modify their driving habits, but it wears off quite soon and they end up doing the same mpg as before.

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I agree absolutely with you Francis! I share your cynicism!

 

The oil companies would have us believe otherwise though?

 

But I would love to be able to explain my diesel mpg experience - one which I would probably have never noticed if I had not got a permanently illuminated running reminder!

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Interesting stuff this.

 

Where I work we have fuel cards for the different accounts/depts, i.e. parts, service, PDI, etc etc. We used Shell up to April, so that for me was 4 months of using branded fuels - diesel & unleaded.

 

Now I can't access any figures and up to reading this thread hadn't give the subject (increased mpg) much thought BUT since using ASDA fuel I'm certain I'm making more trips to fill up my pool cars. And no our usage hasn't changed.

 

As I say, I've no evidence and it makes little difference to me but I had noticed 8-)

 

Just thought I'd chuck it in the mix. Or the tank...

 

Martyn

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