Diesel Fuel - is one brand better than another ?

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 08:25
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G'day all

Have got my new PX Ford Ranger being delivered in a couple weeks and have been reading lately that these new common rail diesel engines are a bit fussier with the fuel they use compared to the older diesel engines. My old GQ Patrol traytop would just about run on 2nd hand sump oil mixed with CRC ( has 880,000 k's on the clock and still going strong ) So I was after your opinions on who you think has the cleanest diesel or perhaps what brand has caused you problems ?

Looking forward to your opinions !

Thanks in advance

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Reply By: Kris and Kev - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 08:41

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 08:41
I think there is not much difference between brands or fuel companies. Just a few things to remember, try and keep to the same servo (which is impossible when on a trip) and keep your receipts. Do not use immediately after the servo tanks have been topped up. Also, check your vehicle insurance as a lot of companies do not insure for contaminated fuel. Kevin
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Follow Up By: Member - Kiwibound eventually - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 10:12

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 10:12
We agree with the comment to check your insurance. We booked our 2010 Nissan Patrol into Nissan in Port Augusta for a service and tune to find that we had taken contaminated fuel. This required extensive work and waiting on new parts to be provided from Japan. In all the car was off the road from late October until early January 2012. Our insurer, AAMI fully covered the cost of the repairs (we were required to pay the excess as we were not able to identify the service station where the fuel was purchased). We had all the dockets and could list the service stations but we could not positively identify the supplier. As we had taken the rental car option with our insurance AAMI provided us with a rental car for no cost for the period. We also had RACV total care who also provided their services offering a rental car, accommodation, toward for our caravan etc. in all we were very well looked after by the insurers . The added bonus, we now have a AAMI warranty for the life of the motor as well as Nissan warranty.
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 15:32

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 15:32
I often laugh when I keep seeing the comment, don't fill up after servo tanks topped up.
Unless your there 24/7 to see the actual tanker in driveway, how would you know when the servo is topped up.

Unless you see the tanker in driveway, the tanker could have left 30 mins. before you got there, how long does it take for new fuel to settle?

I have seen tankers in servos at all hours of days an nights, so unless you actually see tanker in driveway, this statement doesn't ring true.

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Follow Up By: Member - Des Lexic - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 16:22

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 16:22
Last year when heading up the Birdsville track, we needed to top up at Maree before we left. The tanker was filling up the tank at that time and we had no option but to fill up when the tanker left. We were three vehicles in all and over the next 12,000k's, no one had any fuel problems. We do have a second in line fuel fillter but the other vehicles did not.
Not sure if it's the problem that other people make out it is.
The only time I had fuel problems was from filling up from an old tank that was getting low at Lawn Hill many years ago.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 09:44

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 09:44
I have no means of qualifying the impression but it seems my non common rail hilux runs better and quieter on the caltex product than the BP product.

I have heard others make similar statements.

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Follow Up By: Hairs & Fysh - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 10:43

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 10:43
Hi Bantam,
Funny you should say that.
My 1HD-T runs like a hairy goat on Caltex, only a little better on Neumann fuels(where ever they get that from). Shell is better again, but I get far better fuel economy and performance from BP Diesel than any other diesel.
Use to use Caltex, you know, the shopper docket thing and you save. Well after picking up Diesel Algae in 09, somewhere between St George, Dalby,Toowoomba, Landsborough, Brisbane and Grafton(all dockets kept only Caltex purchased diesel).
Jumped through all their hoops and was told, No, didn't get it from their servo's.
Anyway, that's my experience with Caltex, never used it since, never will again.

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Reply By: Priscilla G - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 10:54

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 10:54
Our travelling crew swear by United fuel .Reckon the vehicles run so much better on their diesel.And we like to support them rather than the big outlets. The fuel consumption rate has been proven to be better as well.
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Reply By: Member - Robert W (VIC) - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 12:47

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 12:47
Hi All
How do you know what you are getting when you fill up ? I work on a BP oil tanker that supplies diesel/petrols/avgas to Caltex, BP, Mobil & Shell in Adelaide with product made in BP Kwinana WA -- sometimes its not even made there but shipped from Spore then processed to suit various markets.
All the oil companies engage in 'refinery exchanges' to save frieght costs, all the products have to meet the specs before being discharged, what happens after that I feel is where the contamination occurs -- suggest sticking to major oil companies for some piece of mind.
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Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:18

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:18
I tend to agree with Bob.

It's my understanding that there are only two refineries in each of Melb. Syd & Bris.

Most outlets in those cities will receive their fuel from one of those two refineries.

(It is possible that some "additives" may be added for particular servos.)

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Follow Up By: Rockape - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:23

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:23
Yep up here it is all unloaded off the same ship.

Individual companies may put additives in it at their depots but I haven't got a clue if that happens or not.

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Follow Up By: Priscilla G - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:50

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:50
As farmers who store fuel for busy times,there can be a huge difference in tractor performance between the 2 companies that supply us.Mind you the mileage in our cars isn,t too good either when fuel is delivered at busy times.It,s not always good quality fuel.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 17:42

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 17:42
Having worked in the petroleum refining industry, I know that Bob is correct. There are numerous companies marketing fuel but only several refineries and even those cross-supply when it suits them.

So you never really know what brand or product you are buying or using, but there will always be those who are convinced that one retail brand is superior (or inferior) to others.


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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:56

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 13:56
Gazz - Well, here's my .03c worth (allowing for inflation). I can't say I've ever found a really noticeable difference between fuel brands. However, different servos and roadhouses will provide differing fuel quality. Be very aware that numerous servos have serious problems with tank contamination, due to leaks caused by corrosion that creates pinholes in underground tanks.
These older tanks can also have contamination created by poor location of underground tank filler necks and vents (i.e. - they go under water when there's heavy rain).

The older servos and the servos in remote areas generally have older tanks. Older tanks were never installed with the same degree of protection from corrosion as new tanks. Older tanks were just coated with a bitumenous coating, and dropped in the ground and covered over. As a result, these tanks are very prone to corrosion, and therefore contamination, and leakage. It's worse if the natural soil profile is heavy clay.

Now, the authorities don't give the proverbial rats rectum about fuel contamination - but they sure do care plenty about fuel leakage from underground tanks. Fuel leakage contaminates groundwater aquifers, rivers, and waterways.
As a result, authorities now place probes within a short distance of all older tanks (particularly in metro areas), and if those probes pick up fuel leakage - whammo - if you're the servo owner, you're hit with a tank replacement order that must be carried out urgently.

Every time you see a servo forecourt ripped up and new tanks going in, then you know the previous tanks have been leaking. Leaks are a major headache for servo owners, because it's $$$ losses to them.

However, if the tanks merely develop pinholes on the top side, this will create minimal fuel losses, so it won't usually be picked up by probes (or it will take a long time) - BUT, this is the situation where regular fuel contamination occurs.
Bowser filters are not 100% effective in preventing contaminated fuel from reaching your fuel tank.

Nowadays, new tanks undergo substantially improved techniques in coating and installation methods. The new coatings are more durable than the old bitumenous coatings, and the installation technique nowadays is similar to new landfill techniques, where the hole is lined with an impermeable geotextile fabric, then sand is placed on the fabric, and the tank installed on the sandfill, and then covered over.

The leakage probes are then placed in the sand fill. The sand, being highly permeable, allows prompt identification of fuel leaks - and the geotextile fabric prevents any fuel leaks from entering groundwater supplies.
As a result, newer underground tanks are a far better bet, than tanks that are 20 yrs old or more. There is far less chance of contamination due to newness, improved coatings, and improved installation methods, that also involve better placement of fillers and vents.

Then comes the fuel turnover rate. Be aware that we have "Summer" and "Winter" grades of diesel in Australia. The fuel companies will never tell you this, they just refine the fuel to varying volatility levels, according to whether they reckon it's going to be used in a cold area or a hot area.
Diesel Fuel is basically refined to a standard set by the Govt (called the Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001).

This standard has been amended slightly a few times since 2001, to accommodate biofuels and constantly reducing sulphur levels.
However, the refining parameters of diesel fuel can be "tweaked", and the fuel companies do this with additives and modified refining techniques. They also have to deal with varying qualities of crude oil that means they often need to fiddle with the refining process to reach the fuel standard.

The fuel companies refine Winter fuel with a few more volatile compounds, and less wax content, to improve cold starting and operation at low temperatures. When they refine Summer grade, they up the wax content, and reduce the volatility.
Up in the Alps around Kosciusko, you need Winter grade for much longer than any other part of Australia. In Alice Springs, you basically don't need Winter fuel for any more than June and July.

When a servo has big tanks and a low turnover rate, you could be getting Winter grade long after Winter has ended - or Summer grade when Winter has commenced.
The slightly improved volatility of Winter grade, being used in Spring or Summer could provide a noticeable difference in performance. The higher wax content of Summer diesel will reduce fuel filter life.

Gazz, you're spot on with regard to the fussiness of the new common rail diesels to fuel cleanliness and quality.
The old oil burners had no electronic injection controls, ran at low injection pressures (say, around 1500psi - 3000psi, in the old money), had big injector orifices, and would basically run on any black-looking stuff that flowed.

I can recall my brother running out of diesel once and making up a brew out of kero and lube oil, that the old HJ61 Tojo ran on quite happily for several hundred kms.

However, we're in 2012 here, and the new diesel engines are running at injection pressures in the order of 25,000 psi - 30,000 psi. They have electronically-controlled injection that often even gauges the viscosity parameters of the fuel being injected, and they will shut down the ECU if the fuel doesn't meet the programmed parameters.

The new electronic injectors are electronically pulsed, firing fuel into the combustion chamber in several pulses during the injection period, to reduce diesel knock and to improve the combustion process for more thorough burn and reduced emissions.

As a result, the new motors need PERFECTLY clean fuel - and fuel that meets far more stringent and more narrow parameters as regards contaminants, viscosity, and sulphur content, than what an old Tojo or Patrol will require.

Most new vehicles have barely adequate fuel filtering systems (due to bean counters cost restraints) - and fuel filter maintenance is often seriously neglected - particularly with regard to water contamination.

I would advise that you fit an additional top-quality, fuel filter arrangement, that has a water separation facility included in its construction. There are quite a few of these units available, and they are a very good investment in these days of high tech diesels, and the need to keep fuel parameters within a much tighter range, than the good ole days.

Cheers - Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 18:56

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 18:56
Wow....what an informative post.

Thanks Ron, it's much appreciated. I learned quite a bit here.


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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 19:50

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 19:50
G'day Ron

Same as Mark E - very informative reply - much appreciated !!

I'm sure many others learnt something here as well. I'm certainly going to look into an added filter of some sort after I get my hands on the new Ranger ( I don't like drinking contaminated beer so I'm guessing the new diesel engines don't like drinking contaminated fuel ) It was also interesting to hear about the exchanging of fuel between fuel companies from Bob.

The lesson learnt - if you want longevity and trouble free motoring from your modern day common rail diesel - install a secondary fuel filter and replace them regularly !

Thanks to all who replied

Happy travelling

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Reply By: racinrob - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 15:25

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 15:25
Gazz, I run a HZJ75 Land Cruiser and when it was new I fitted an after market CAV fuel filter with sediment bowl which replaced the original Toyota filter set up.
I change the fuel filter when I do an oil change at 5,000 kms and cut the filter open to see how much junk it's trapped. Sometimes it's like new and then sometimes it is unbelievable how much sludge and rubbish it has trapped. In over 300,000 kms I've never had fuel problems and I've refuelled from drums and Jerry cans etc in some very remote places.
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 20:14

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 20:14
G'day rr

I also ran a CAV filter on my Patrol and as you, was surprised to see how much crap gets into the system. Once my Patrol hit 300k I only changed the oil etc every 10,000 - then when it hit 400k I changed oil etc every 20,000 - but with 2 oil filters and 9 litres of oil it got rather expensive so when it hit 500k I did the changes at 40,000 k intervals ! I sold the trusty old Patrol - towed a HZJ75 across the Simpson one year, both fully loaded ( oh what a feeling ) and heard from the new owner who loves it that it now has 880,000 k's on it and it's still purring ! I doubt very much whether the modern day diesels would do that !

All the best

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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 07:47

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 07:47
Sorry rr - it was a HJ75 I towed across the desert not a HZJ75 - I don't want to upset anyone !

All the best

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Reply By: Michael A5 - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 19:27

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 19:27
most of the servos around major centres all seem t run a similar level of quality. but when travelling out bush some contamination can occur. There r various strategies that u can use such as double fuel filters, water traps etc. There have been few good articles lately in the 4x4 mags and also several other forums more related to 4wd issues r around. It may pay u t cheek these out

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Follow Up By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 21:24

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 21:24
When touring further out ...I use a "Mr Funnel' funnell...on fuel fills. Just put diesel nozzle into funnel and then into tank. Only once have i had to stop filling....empty the crap outa funnel...and then resume filling...and this was on the major highway thru SA to Perth!!. All of the outback placesI have filled up at so far have been ok...next to no residue in funnel.
I also run a fairly hefty water and sediment trap....and service my main fuel filter every 10,000 k. So Far --So Good.
Oh...truck is a 97 Nissan Patrol Turbo Diesel.

Cheers Keith
Nothin is ever the same once I own it ...........

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Reply By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 23:23

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 23:23

i find my 3.0ltr in my Navara runs better on the Caltex Premium Vortex Diesel.
as we attended the EO National meet last September i ran a tank full whilst towing our Jayco Swan Outback from Maclean to Broken Hill. Using it, my Low Water Alarm ran 3 deg cooler ( i have a digital readout for the alarm) and my Pyrometer ran exactly 50 deg cooler as well.

the next tank full ( from which i ran it right down from the previous fill up) i ran Shell Diesel and back up went the coolant temperature as well as the pyrometer shot back up 50 degrees hotter.

I also found the power of the engine gained noticeably as well.

thats my experience,cheers.
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Reply By: ross - Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 23:42

Saturday, Apr 14, 2012 at 23:42
Ive been driving various types of diesels for 17 years.
Cant say any of its been better or worse than any other batch.
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 02:44

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 02:44
When I was working the Troopy as Pilot I noticed I could get more K's on BP than Woolworths, I have been told it all comes from the same source but the BP v Woolies was not a one off test I did, it was many times. Always seemed to run better on BP.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 07:57

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 07:57

Caltex (Woolworths) and BP each have their own refineries hence their fuel can differ, however even they at times may be sourcing fuel from else-where.
This is not to say your observations were not correct.


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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 11:21

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 11:21
One of the less-desirable things that's happening, is that our local refineries are slowly being wiped out by Asian refineries - just another impact of the "cheaper to get it made in Asia" problem.

Within a few short years, there will likely be no refineries left in Australia. There are only 7 refineries left operating here now, and virtually all of them were built in the 1950's.

Mobil closed Port Stanvac refinery in 2009, and Shell closed the Clyde refinery in 2011, and turned Clyde into merely an import terminal.

The oil companies can buy petrol and diesel, ready refined, directly from Asian refineries, and have it shipped in - and make more money out of that technique - than shipping in crude and refining it here.

Our refineries are little more than working antiques, producing volumes, that Asian operators wouldn't even think about starting up a refinery for.
Take note that just one Indian oil refinery produces NEARLY DOUBLE the output, than all 7 of Australia's refineries output.
Can you imagine their refining cost base, with that volume and the low-paid workforce??

Like so much of our manufacturing industry, it's slowly being destroyed by Asian manufacturers, and I don't look forward to the day that's not too far off, when we have no manufacturing industries left, and we are 100% reliant on imports.

This has major ramifications for our defence capabilities, and our basic survival, if things suddenly turn pear-shaped in Asia.
In my relatively short lifetime, I've watched a "cultural revolution", driven by ideology, turn China back 300 yrs within 3 yrs.
Who's to say it won't happen again overnight?

The other ramification of becoming totallly dependent on overseas manufacturing, is that, once the Asians know we can't go anywhere else for our manufactured goods, they will ramp up the price we have to pay for everything.

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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 12:39

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 12:39
Hey Ron

Careful mate - you're nearly up to .07c worth here !

And don't get me started on this government and there ideas about free trade !

This once great country is on the down hill slide now and I'm glad I won't be around long enough to see the end result !

All the best


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