Fuel Wallet GaugeMore updates on the prices and grades of fuel in Malaysia – Datuk Shahrir Samad said RON97 would not be floated in July 2009 but instead it will have its priced increased by reducing subsidies. He said floating it would not be feasible at the moment as apparently by floating it, the price per litre would shoot up by 50 sen, which at current RM1.80 per litre rates would result in a new RM2.30 per litre price. RON95 will be introduced to replace RON92 but will be priced at a the same price as RON92 via extra subsidies redirected from RON97. He hopes this will make Malaysians use the cheaper RON95 fuel.

He told The Star that Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia have been using RON95 grade fuel without any problems. The thing is, the difference between RON98 and RON95 in Singapore is less than S$0.10 at the moment. Dollar for dollar, that is a small difference, and people who find that they need RON98 can do so without causing much pain to their pockets. It sounds like in Malaysia the difference between RON97 and RON95 will be higher than the current 10 sen gap between RON97 and RON92.

I have actually written to him twice about how RON95 would sometimes be unsuitable for older high compression vehicles designed to run on RON95 as carbon deposits and other wear and tear would actually increase the engine’s RON requirements and cause the engine to knock when RON95 is used. These carbon deposits can heat up in a hot engine and cause pre-spark detonation.

Older cars/engines without a knock sensor to automatically adjust ignition to compensate for knocking are especially prone to damage, but the thing is for a knock sensor to do its job the engine actually has to start knocking first before the knock sensor can “sense” it so there is still some potential for damage!

This is bad for the engine! If you assume a typical reason that a person using an old car with an old engine because he or she is not very well to do and cannot afford something newer, I am sure you don’t want to put that person into a situation where he has to fork out more money in maintenance because of high temperature detonation damage!

If you want to look at it from the rakyat’s point of view, instead of pricing RON97 higher to encourage RON95 consumption, the government should think of ways to educate people about why they should just save their penny and use RON95 instead if their cars can take it. Tax the “premium” RON97 Shell V-Power as much as you want but leave the option open for decently-priced RON97 fuel for those who really need it. But then again you could also say we should all just learn to adjust to what some say are impending permanent high fuel prices and get on with a new “gaya hidup”.

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