Supermarket fuel comes under fire

Industry expert speaks out about the true cost of so-called cheap supermarket fuel

Supermarket fuel comes under fire
Image: Bigstock.

Supermarket fuels could be a false economy for motorists, according to experts who claim cheap fuel could end up costing motorists an extra £100 a year.

The UK fuel market is subject to strict legal standards, however different retailers are free to introduce additives to the fuel.

It’s these so-called ‘secret concoctions’ that differentiate the quality of fuel, with many branded filling stations claiming to offer fuel that helps keep engines clean and improve fuel economy.

Related: Tesco to cover customer repair bills after dodgy diesel caused engine failures

Jason Lloyd, managing director at, said: “Many supermarkets get fuel from the same refineries as the leading brands.

“But it’s a bit like budget airlines – they get you to the same place but with main national carriers you also get more, such as in-flight food and entertainment.

“Fuel is similar and some people find paying for unleaded from, say BP, over time means you get better mpg than supermarket fuel so in essence it’s a false economy.”

Garage Wire is calling on its readers to share their experiences and opinions of supermarket fuel – good or bad.

Do you believe such fuels can have a detrimental impact on the lifecycle of the engine or would you argue that such thoughts are just a myth?

Share your comments and experiences below.


  1. It’s true; in the distant past I have used supermarket fuels, especially when tempted to do so by offers. My diesel sounded like a very old engine – lost of rattles and clanks and over a period of time a severe loss of power.

    Branded fuel is much better, however I now only use premium diesel (Shell or BP). This not only gives an increase in mpg (around 5%) and an engine so quiet you would think it was petrol engine.

  2. Where to start? 1. Supermarkets do not pay to have the additives added so as to maintain their completive edge over company sites eventually putting many out of business.2. By using fuel as a loss leader in store of between 5 & 20 pence/litre can mean that the VAT payable can be less than the VAT recovered, therefore getting HMRC to contribute to the offer. 3.Supermarkets have been known to add unwanted additives at no additional charge namely silicon, a few years ago, sorry Tesco, with disastrous results to O2 sensors & catalysts. Give Tesco their due they did reimburse my customers in full on submission of their invoices. These are just my cynical personal observations & could be just that!

  3. Garages are plagued with eml faults mostly customers to admit they use supermarket fuel!

  4. I am still running a diesel Vauxhall Omega that I have owned from almost new : at 179,000 miles it is completely untouched mechanically, original pump, injectors,glowplugs, performance undiminished – never use supermarket fuel, run exclusively on Shell V-Power/Optimax plus I proved that I was getting 40-60 miles more per tankful. Worth the 8 or 9p extra…

  5. As a vehicle tuner ( mainly turbo petrols) I can, without hesitation concur with Mr Lloyd.
    Supermarket fuel is awful in terms of quality. I have seem gains of 30+ bhp from the worst fuel to the best!
    Some of the vehicles I’ve seen run with knock control permently active and thus retarded ignition due to the poor quality. Totally different car to drive with decent fuel in it after draining.. and thats before I change anything inside the ECU!

  6. My family business has sold petrol and diesel for over fifty years, and I would love to believe that supermarket fuels are inferior. However it’s just not true. I’ve never in all that time been to a fuel distribution depot but I’ve had many conversations with tanker drivers. They all tell me that the tankers all queue to use the same gantries. Tankers delivering to supermarkets use the same facilities as everyone else. Supermarkets sell the same product as any other forecourt. This is certainly the case in South Wales.

    • All load same basic fuel yes but ther is a facility to add different % of additves for each customer ..branded fuels gets more additive more additive more cost..EX tanker driver

  7. Supermarket fuel against “brand name” fuel, the age old comparison that keeps rearing it’s head every so often. However, the comparison is justified. I have experimented before with this, when I was doing 200 miles a week commuting to work. I would fill up with Tesco diesel, then the following week I would use Shell diesel – the difference between the two was 50 miles extra per tank with the Shell fuel. Adding that up over 12 months would make quite a difference. Since then, I have only ever used supermarket fuel as an emergency, never using more than £10 of it though.

  8. Hi there, i used Tesco Diesel in my car for several months and my engine started to missfire, a friend advised me of the problem with supermarket fuel and I changed to Shell, after some antibacteria additive and several fuel system cleaner additives my car is now good again, No Supeemarket fuel for me.

  9. Is there any actual evidence? Send samples to a lab or ask the industry what the practice actually is. I use supermarket fuel and do not have any experience one way or the other. This is after being a Shell user for many year before.

  10. As a small garage owner in Northern Ireland, we see regular occurrences of poor fuel affecting performance and creating faults in the emission control system. Long term it is disastrous and even short term can cause expensive problems. Although frequently we’ve referred customers to better quality (non supermarket) fuel to find that they only needed better fuel to fix their problems. I live across the road from a supermarket and will drive right in by with the low fuel light on to reach a superior fuel retailer. Penny wise and pound foolish costs the motorist and keeps our business afloat.


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