What now if your car uses LRP fuel?
So you drive what we’d affectionately classify as an old banger, that still relies on pre-catalytic converter type fuel - otherwise known as LRP or Lead Replacement Petrol.
And you’re worried that with time LRP will be phased out forcing you to get something newer and more expensive.
Well not quite, and here’s the lowdown on the future of LRP and your options going forward.
Yes, most petroleum companies in South Africa have slowly started phasing out LRP - it’s part of the industry’s move to introduce cleaner fuels. Not to mention the steadily decreasing demand for this type of fuel as newer cars leave showroom floors.
According to fuel company BP less than 2.5 percent of SA’s cars use LRP - and there’s no legislation forcing local service stations to sell it.
PHASING OUT LEAD REPLACEMENT PETROL
These factors have all led to the industry taking the decision to completely phase out LRP over the next few years, freeing up pumps for the more popular unleaded and diesel fuels. An official deadline has not been set, but according to BP it looks like 2017 is a safe estimate.
A limited number of service stations will still market LRP, but it will be hard to find. The phasing-out process is gradual, starting in areas where the demand has reduced the most.
Most engines manufactured in the early 1990s can use unleaded petrol without any modification. In fact, according to BP some engines manufactured prior to 1996 actually show an improvement in performance when using unleaded petrol. The biggest issue for older vehicles (typically manufactured before 1996) using unleaded fuel is valve seat recession.
USE THE RIGHT ADDITIVE
The way forward is to ascertain if, according to the manufacturer, your car is susceptible to valve seat recession. This can be done by visiting the National Association of Automobile Manufactures of South Africa’s website (www.naamsa.co.za) and viewing the vehicle compatibility chart.
Should valve seat recession indeed be an issue, your first option is adding an anti-valve seat recession additive to the tank every time you fill up with unleaded.
According to BP there are a number of such anti-wear additives available, mainly from motor spares retailers. Make sure you choose an additive with a reputable brand name, which is specifically designed to protect valve seats, and that you use quantities exactly as instructed on the packaging.
Protection is especially needed most when the vehicle is operated under high engine speed or high load conditions for a prolonged period of time.
Your other option would be to remove the cylinder head and have hardened valve seats fitted, which would enable the engine to run on unleaded without the need for the additive.
Either way, there’s no need to get rid of ‘ol Betsy just yet. - Star Motoring