8 December 2005
From the beginning of 2006, all leaded petrol will be phased out in South Africa and new octane grades introduced.
Unleaded petrol has been available to South African motorists since 1996. The use of unleaded has gradually increased to comprise about 40% of total petrol sales.
Lead was first introduced into petrols in the 1920s, but in recent years there has been a move away from leaded petrol. Lead in petrol contributes to urban pollution and is a health risk, particularly for young children.
Motorists will still have the choice of two grades of petrol, although the octane grades will differ between the coast and high-altitude inland stations.
Premium, or super, will be replaced with the new Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP), with an octane grade of 95 at the coast and 93 inland.
Unleaded petrol will be available in 91, 93, 95 octane grades. Petrol stations are likely to sell only one grade of unleaded, with the higher octanes being used in coastal areas.
Although most modern cars already use unleaded petrol, drivers of pre-1996 cars should check whether their cars will run on the new fuels.
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Naamsa) has prepared a database where motorists can quickly look up their vehicle’s make and model to determine which fuel will be suitable.
Most older cars should have no problem running on LRP. Cars built more than 20 years ago may need to use an additional bottled additive which will protect their engines.
Pre-1996 cars in the coastal region may need to have their timing adjusted in order to run efficiently on LRP. Motorists can check whether their vehicle is affected by consulting the Naamsa database. The timing adjustment can be done at many service stations in the coastal region, and will be a free service.
In the inland area, where the 95 octane unleaded grade will become available for the first time, a special “demand management levy” will be introduced. Initially this grade will priced about 10c per litre higher than the 93 octane.
The price for all other grades will be determined using the same method as previously.