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Investigation: Are fuel stations cheating you? – Part 1

Investigation: Are fuel stations cheating you? – Part 1

Snapshot: Are you sure the average fuel sold by two different fuel stations is of the same quality or it varies in terms of delivering mileage; is there any chemical difference between them both?

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We are very concerned about the rising fuel prices in the country. Over the last few years, fuel prices have rocketed to new peaks probing down endlessly in our wallets and have almost doubled in the recent times. Also, a new scam is uncovered every year that makes us wonder about this rising concern and fuel crisis.

Every month a major chunk of our money is spent on fuel and this expense is only getting bigger day by day. Previously we came with a video that showcased how some of the fuel stations are cheating in broad daylight and today we are investigating if the average fuel sold by two different fuel stations varies in terms delivering mileage or if there is any chemical difference between them both.

Why is fuel so costly in India?

For you to understand why we end up paying so much against countries like USA, Russia or even Pakistan, where prices are nearly half of what we charged in India, you’ll have to go through the full tax break up on the petroleum industry.

The basic crude oil is imported in India on its international price that varies slightly day by day. For 1 barrel of crude oil imported on 17th January, the government paid Rs 4,154 per barrel which comes out to be Rs 26.13 per ltr. After refining, the basic cost of fuel comes close to Rs 33.14 per ltr. On which government punches various taxes close to Rs 38.25 per ltr. Which, by the way, is even double than its actual cost in the first place.

In a city like Delhi, various quality of fuels are available starting from regular petrol, premium petrol (Speed or Extra Premium), RON 93 and RON 97. The last two are majorly used by high-performance cars and motorcycles while the first two are used for everyday cars and bikes.

Our Test:

We took the Datsun RediGo 1.0L manual for the same. Why we chose this car? It’s because most of the car drivers in India drive a small hatchback with a manual gearbox. And to keep the test as close to real life driving conditions as possible, we drove it in both the city as well on highway, with air conditioning ON.

Since the most precise way of testing the average of a car or a motorbike is to fill the exact amount of fuel in it when it’s in the dry state. Hence, we emptied its fuel tank until it gave up and couldn’t start, then pushed it to the nearest fuel pump.

We slogged all the way to the fuel station number 1, where we filled exactly 5 liters of fuel. We also collected a 100ml sample from the same fuel to be sent to a lab for analysis.

To make sure the car is driven as much in the city as on highways, we drove all the way from Gurgaon city to Faridabad, until the car was emptied again. We made sure to drive it on medium throttle ranges to depict everyday usage. Most Indian car drivers focus on getting the best mileage possible, but also have to deal with loads of traffic and high heat weather, this driving style hopefully compensates for all losses. Hence, accelerator goes to half its range with air conditioning ON at all times.

The first stop:

The car did 71.3 kilometers in the first run, and that sums up to 14.26kmpl of mileage. And then again we were pushing the car back to another station, where we did the same, filled it the second time with 5-litres normal fuel and collected the sample for the test lab.

We drove all the way back to Gurgaon, but couldn’t finish the same distance as the car stopped a few kilometers before than it was supposed to.

The car did 67.5 kilometers in the second run, and that sums up to 13.5kmpl of mileage.

Well, it was obvious that the mileage difference wasn’t massive in both the scenarios, but how different were they chemically? We waited for the test results from the laboratory and as expected, the samples given revealed not much of any difference.

The lab test results:

Both the samples lacked any moisture or kerosene content. The caloric value, which is the energy produced by complete combustion of fuel, this value for both the samples was similar too, at 37.02 MJ/Kg for the first sample, and 37.15 MJ/Kg for the second one.

Verdict:

The test revealed that petrol filled from two different stations was very close in terms of its chemical structure and hence delivered mileage figures that were in close proximity when it came to real life test. The test only makes our confidence strong in the fuel companies for delivering consistent quality of fuel irrespective of the location where it is sold. However, the minor difference in the test mileage also revealed that both the samples were not entirely the same, and there is a slight possibility of differences so minute that they were undetectable by the test lab.

Also read: 5 Women bikers to follow today!

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