Does the alert from the Spanish Confederation of Workshops on ‘low cost’ gasoline make sense?

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Ten years ago, the Hydrocarbons Law changed favoring an opening of the market: this gave way to service stations that offered lower prices than the pumps of the big oil companies. A decade later, the low cost gas stations They are chosen by many drivers, although some continue to wonder if they are worth it. The Spanish Confederation of Automobile and Related Repair Workshops (CETRAA) assures that this election can be expensive, but does this alarm make sense?

This same week, José Rodríguez Robayna, member of the executive committee of CETRAA, spoke in the ‘Analysis Table’ program of south channel to deal with the issue. He assured that some customers claim that they suffer loss of power after refueling at a ‘low cost’ gas station: “That has to be seen by the customer, who thinks they are going to save money, but in reality, sometimes, they don’t. . If you add fuel that is not adequate, you will spend twice as much”. He also pointed out that CETRAA has not carried out any investigation to confirm this point.

He also added that at CETRAA they are committed to carrying out a consumption comparison. I eat? Refueling at a “normal” gas station, according to his words, and at a ‘low cost’: from his point of view, with the second fuel the car will spend more and it won’t go “the same”. The last point he addressed was the consequences on the engine: “The performance is not the same, It can also affect certain technological elements and catalysts, which can have problems in the long run.

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Does this alarm make sense?

The question is obvious and the truth is that there is an answer to it. The Compañía Logística de Hidrocarburos (CLH) is the only fuel supplier in Spain: following the provisions of the Hydrocarbons Law, it stores the oil, distributes it and transports it to any service station, whether it is ‘low cost’ or not. The fuel is the same for all because it passes a series of controls to verify that it complies with the corresponding European quality standards: something that can be verified on the labeling, in force since October 2018.

As we have explained to you on other occasions, one of the factors that makes the difference in prices are the additives: some chemical products that are added to the fuel to add some quality and that, if they are present, increase the price of gasoline and diesel. ‘Low cost’ gas stations usually use those recommended by the CLH, but the big oil companies have their own recipes. With them, they promise greater autonomy to compensate for what we overpay, reducing the frequency of our visits to the service station.

By adding additives, oil companies seek to improve fuel burning, thus benefiting the engine. I eat? Extracting the maximum power from the engine, reducing polluting emissions, extending its useful life, generating less waste… and reducing consumption. Nevertheless, it is difficult to demonstrate these improvements and, furthermore, it takes a long period of time to prove itand intensive use. And for this, it would be necessary to increase the investment in fuel.

Additives vs Maintenance

The truth is that the additives will not make a difference: the correct maintenance that we do on the engine will because the fuel that it distributes the Hydrocarbons Logistics Company already incorporates its own chemical products to offer the necessary quality.

In the longest-lived mechanics that accumulate many kilometers, especially if they are diesel, the additives could have a positive effect, although it is not a permanent effect. They help to clean the feeding circuits (especially the injectors) and to recover some of the compression that is lost due to cylinder wear, but maintenance will continue to be the key.

It should be remembered that the only problems that we can have in a service station (whether or not it is ‘low cost’) are related to cleaning of supply systems (filters or pipes), storage tanks and dispensers: They can cause engine breakdowns due to the presence of residues or water in the fuel that we have added. Of course, they are rare incidents.

Why, then, are they cheaper?

The ‘low cost’ gas stations can offer the liter, on average, 10% cheaper and the additives, as we said before, are not the only factor that makes the difference. There is more: the very small margins that they handle is another one of them. They are usually between 0.5 and 1% because they have a very aggressive pricing policy to achieve volume.

To this we must add that have very low costs and less expenses to be more agile: for example, they do not invest in advertising and are usually located in industrial areas, where land is cheaper, or in shopping centers because they belong to large stores and, thus, act as a claim for buyers through offers, promotions…

Another cause is its business organization, with very few levels, and your personal: In most ‘low cost’ gas stations it is minimal or non-existent, since, normally, they have a person or they do without the staff, replacing it with payment machines. 60% of costs come from here and if they reduce this item, they can minimize the price of a liter of fuel.

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