New Shell FuelSave Fuels Promise Improved Efficiency

Shell has just launched two new fuels to replace its standard (regular) pump fuels. Shell FuelSave Unleaded and FuelSave Diesel contain new ingredients that promise to provide fuel savings of 1 litre per 50 litre fill up (the marketing is aimed at family car drivers!).

The new fuels have been in development for five years and will replace regular unleaded, regular diesel and Diesel Extra at all Shell filling stations in the UK. Pricing will be exactly the same as the old fuels. This isn’t a premium fuel – the V-Power lineup will continue unchanged – it’s a normal fuel for normal drivers to use in all types of petrol and diesel vehicles.

Obviously the diesel fuel will be most relevant to van drivers, but for anyone who is interested, here is the technical story behind the new fuels.

FuelSave Diesel

Diesel engines are around 30% efficient – that is, 30% of the energy created by burning the fuel is used to drive the vehicle forwards. The rest is wasted in the form of heat, noise and so on.

Shell’s scientists identified irregular injector spray and slow ignition as two key factors affecting diesel engine efficiency. Shell’s existing diesel already contained detergents to help prevent dirty injectors (and hence irregular spray patterns) but what is new in FuelSave Diesel is an “Efficiency Improver” that increases the speed of fuel ignition. Shell claims that this improves combustion efficiency and helps reduce fuel consumption.

FuelSave Unleaded

As anyone who has driven both petrol and diesel-engined vehicles in winter will know, the heaters in petrol-engined vehicles always warm up faster than those in diesels. The reason for this is that petrol engines are even more inefficient than diesels – just 20%-25% of the energy created when the petrol is combusted gets turned into forward motion – petrol engines get hotter, faster, than diesels.

When it came to improving the efficiency of petrol engines, Shell’s scientists identified a different area to target – lubrication. They found that the top of the cylinder and the piston heads were often inconsistently coated with oil – resulting in greater friction. The solution they came up with was focused on improving the lubrication of the piston rings. The new unleaded formula contains a lubrication agent that coats the top of the pistons when fuel is injected into the cylinders, reducing friction and thus improving combustion efficiency.

Does It Work?

Shell has had extensive independent testing done on its new FuelSave fuels and claims that they work from the first tankfull, saving up to 1 litre of fuel per 50 litre fill. I’m going to try and test this out for myself with my Transit but it could be difficult to work out a way of doing it scientifically enough – I don’t have an accurate way of measuring fuel used (other than by brimming the tank) or the ability to drain the tank of one fuel and refill it with another. If I do manage to reach any conclusions, you can be sure I’ll post them here.

In the meantime, if you try FuelSave Diesel or Unleaded and reach any conclusions of your own, leave a comment below – I’d be really interested to hear from you. Remember that if you fill up at a Shell station from Wednesday 21st July, you’ll be filling up with FuelSave (unless you use V-Power).

Shell is also running a competition for drivers to win a year’s supply of FuelSave fuel – sorry, this has now closed.

84 thoughts on “New Shell FuelSave Fuels Promise Improved Efficiency

  1. William

    I really find it hard to believe that it is a problem with Shell fuels.
    Lets be right their must be millions of motorists out their that have used the new fuel and this is the only forum complaining about it.

  2. ang

    Re previous note about problem with fuelsave, i have managed to get rid of the shell fuel out of my car and filled it up at a different garage, not shell, and guess what car is running great, no mis-firing,no pinking, no funny smells, and the fuel management light has went off. It definately was the shell fuelsave that caused my problems, I am now £300 down and lost £40 worth of petrol, by the way, my car isn’t used much, 4 times a week for journeys under 10 miles and half a tank of fuel was gone in a week, the reason it took so long to get rid of the rest was because i was frightened to go long distances in it. It definatley was the fuelsave in case there are any doubters out there.

  3. lyn

    Reply to last note: It’s very coincidental that my car has run perfectly, never stalled, always started and since I’ve had Fuelsave, it’s not accelerating, it stalls, won’t start and now the engine warning light has come on! It’s only just been serviced and MOT’d. I’m sure some engines are fine, as quantified above but I have no doubt whatsoever that a number of problems are being caused by this fuel and this is not the only site that you will find complaints about this fuel. I have found several sites and a comparison is being made with the launch a few years ago, again by Shell, of another wonder fuel – this ended up having to be withdrawn as it was ruining car engines. I now have to take my car to the garage and I’m sure it is going to cost me money. I will never use Fuelsave again.

  4. My Local Van Hire Post author


    It’s true that the majority of Shell customers clearly aren’t experiencing problems with FuelSave – otherwise it would have hit the news by now, given that Shell has (I believe) around 17% market share in the UK.

    However, there are more than 50 comments on this page now, most of them fairly detailed. I’ve never done anything to encourage these comments and the article I wrote originally was fairly positive – so people have commented because they have felt that they have a problem relating to FuelSave.

    There are also some mentions of problems with FuelSave on other websites, for example here, here, here and here.

    Obviously some of these comments on this and other sites could be a very cunning and carefully executed plan to sabotage FuelSave’s marketing success by one of Shell’s competitors – but it seems unlikely to me.

    Thanks for your comment, anyway – all points of view welcome here.

    Have you tried FuelSave yourself?

    Cheers, Roland

  5. Peter

    Like Ian, 9th September, I too contacted Shell re the use of fuelsave in older engines. I run a 1972 MGB and am concerned re the additives found in Fuelsave. Shell replied that they had NOT tested fuelsave in older engines and suggested I contact the manufacturer. MG Rover where are you !
    I will not be using any Shell petrol which is a pity as Vpower always worked well in the B

  6. Andrew Brown

    Peter, if you need an above normal octane rating and not shell, i would recommend Tesco Momentum, runs great in my car, a real difference.

    Reading previous comments i never went the shell route as they take ages to organise a look at your car, you need to go to a garage and get it checked and maybe, if they admit it, they will pay for it.

    I don’t have the money to risk that and i’m not willing to place significant finaces in their hands. Also i can’t have my only form of transport off the road for an undisclosed period of time.

    Has cost my £500 to get it sorted, but at least i know it is done and fixed inside a small timescale.

  7. gary moss

    re continuation from my post on 31st August 2010 .
    My BMW 520 PETROL is still running smoothly with no pinking .The only time it did the continuous pinking was when i used Shell Fuelsave .
    It was pinking so badly when it was running on SFS that i nearly took it to a mechanic to check the timing ( but then i linked it to shells new fuelsave the timing was to the day on 2 separate dates on using the new fuel ) .
    I also run an Evo 6 makinen that was mapped to run on Shell V power ( currently not using the Evo ) .My evo will be using an alternative super unleaded instead of taking the risk of serious damage .
    I too find it hard to believe that Shell have made this massive mistake on quality control but how much proof do we need.
    I like probably most on this web page are switched on to our cars and spotted this problem early on.Thats why i googled my suspicions and found i was not alone .We are not alone and this problem will be hitting the headlines sooner or later.

  8. Libby

    Cant remember all thats been checked/done/flushed/etc in the last 2 days, but the result is categoric, that there is nothing wrong with my engine and the fuel from Shell has caused the recent problems.

    Interestingly we put some of the fuel drained out into a clean glass jar and there is a) a funny smell – bit like turpentine, and b) there is a bubble of something at the bottom of the jar – looks like something you see in a lava lamp….

    My D1 is now purring like a pussy cat again – cant wait to go for a run in the morning.

  9. Pat

    Glad I found thsi site I normally fill up with Morrisons fuel but started to use the Fuelsave on my 3.0 Audi Tdi. After about 80 miles when I stopped the engine it shuddered as if shaking on the mountings,this was followed by an emmisions fault code !

  10. Tony

    I use shell fuel save and shell v power, start with the fuel save diesel.
    I run a Vauxhall astra H 1.9 cdti 120 (16v) 2005 model, no issues with shell fuel save, and I run half a tank of it down at a time, car still moves quickly enough, pulls great and doesnt run rough.
    Onto the V power, I also run 2 Subaru Impreza’s (both JDM imports, one an MY99 and the other an MY03), neither have issues with V Power (I dont think they have done anything with this fuel), no issues noted, so no need to panic.
    What would be interesting is what area’s are affected, as no one puts down where they are we dont know if its contamination of a fuel tank/tanker out of one depot or not, which it could be, Im in the Lancashire area and as said, no issues, I also fuel up in the Berkshire area every other week due to work commitments, also no issues with the fuel there.

  11. Austin

    I have been using shell fuel for years and started using the new Diesel whne it came on the forecourt, I drive a year old Jaguar X type estate 2.2 Litre Diesel which ran great on the old Diesel. for the first few weeks the new diesel was ok but I did not notice any difference in performance or milage, but then the engine started to sound rough and noisey, sounds likethe exhaust is blowing but does not happen all the time I am going to stop using Shell as a few friends have also commented on problems since changing over

  12. Adam

    I drive 2004 Lexus IS 200 (petrol engine). As you can imagine the engine is smooth as silk and the ride the same. Very rarely does the car have any starting problems even in the cold. I’ve had a few tanks of shell Fuel save now, primarily because it is cheaper than other fuels. On two occassions within about two weeks the car has had starting problems, nothing major, but unusual nonetheless. Must admit that there hasn’t seemed to be any problem with acceleration or top speed though.

  13. Tony

    Just found this page, I have a Hyundai Santa fe CRDT auto, and despite being very sceptical about these “superfuels” have been using fuelsave for a couple of months now, initially I was happy with it, getting an extra couple of mpg, however over the last few weeks, I have noticed more smoke, a sooty exhaust, and mpg has dropped, power also seems down, as if the handbrake is stuck on, in the last week from cold I get a “splutter” after about a minute.

    I will need to fill up today, so might try going back to supermarket “crap” see if that helps.

  14. Tony

    Just an update, had a 250 mile trip today around the M25, and it was behaving like a dog! very eratic, down on power, and smoking badly, even at 20-30mph in traffic, slight acceleration would produce a distinct haze behind me.

    I filled up on the way home, and it seems better, not perfect, but I expect it will take a few tanks to clean the cr4p out.

  15. Libby

    Does this explain things?
    Adverse effects of biofuels on classic car fuel systems
    V8 Register – MG Car Club
    –Edited by Admin–
    Libby’s comment contained the text of an article taken from The Times in 2009 that was a little too long for this site. In brief, it explained that the percentage of biofuel in standard unleaded and diesel has now risen above 5% and is heading towards 10%. There is some evidence that this can cause problems for older cars, especially older petrol cars that may experience engine problems resulting from the increased proportion of ethanol, the biofuel which is added to petrol.

    However, it should be noted that these issues are said to apply to fuels from all oil companies. As far as I know, the percentage of biofuel used by Shell in its regular unleaded and diesel did not increase with the introduction of FuelSave.
    —End of edit—

  16. Pingback: Shell FuelSave Three Months On – What’s Changed? - UK Van & Van Hire News

  17. STEVE


  18. David Gray

    I have a petrol 05 plate alfa 156 89K on the clock, new plugs, new timing belt/pullys/variator/tensioners and New head gasket at 79K.
    It is well maintaned and has done 70 miles every weekday of its life.
    it developed a minor misfire during this summer and OBD says misfire on cylinder 1, the coil is ok, its now on cylinder 2 and i still get misfire on cylinder 1.
    it happend very infequently until shell intorduced its new fuel and i was onto 3rd or 4th tank of FuelSave.
    i have used my local shell station for 5 years and saw no reason to change given the fact that their Vpower range gives me better MPG (i use it occasionaly)
    the car is now down right dangerouse i can’t pull out into traffic without it going into 3 cylinder hop…..or i couldn’t
    i changed to esso unleaded about a month ago and the problem has gone on all but the coldest mornings

    last week i was stuck and used a tank full of fuel save again and by the end of the week the problem came back with vigour, to pull away i had to bring revs up to 2000 rpm and slip the clutch
    this sunday I used Vpower
    by wendesday problem is none existant again, and i look forward to an event free slog round the M25 tonight (friday)

    my conclusion
    in a car with marginal igntion system as mine must have for 1 coil/cylinder (corrosion/resistance in alfas fantatsic connectors in the loom between ECU and coil packs), this fuel must be harder to ignite. i.e when compressed, what is between the plug contacts is harder, than other fuel blends, to turn into a plasma to allow a spark to travel and cause igntion.

    the fact that Shell say it burns faster is worrying, low octane fuel burns faster and in an uncontrolled way, but its also much easier to ignite….
    well refined high octane fuel burns slower and in a controlled way but has fewer lighter fractions in it so is harder to ignite
    artificially high octane fuel i.e low octane fuel with masses of ethanol in it to get it to pass some BS standard is not quite as good as proper high octane petrol
    by octane i mean RON


    vote with your feet

    i must admit my car also runs great on tesco fuel which is usually the fuel that people like to pick on….

    why haven’t i just fixed the problem??? i’d have to take off all engine covers and the inlet, injectors and fuel rail to get access to the D9 connector
    or take off the engine under tray which involves removal of both wheels and the bumper and inner wheel arches…
    Thats a summer job, or one for someone else….maybe Shell R&D could do it for me

    i’m sure this is great stuff in a brand new modern car
    but a middle aged itallian car…NO


  19. Mumba

    I drive a VW passat 1.9 TDi.I recently bought the Shell “Fuel Save” diesel full tank on 31 october 2010.Since then I have been getting a very unusual smell and a warning light and message on the dash board saying “Emssions Workshop”. I have spent days looking for solutions and after reading a what others have experienced with this fuel and Peter James story, i suspect the problem could be related to this shell fuel save.I still have full tank.When I get the refuel message I will be my fuel as where and see if the message will go.I will give you an update.

  20. andy

    i drive a cit van and since using shell fuel we have had major probs, have broken down , hard to start all the symptoms of a fuel pump breaking down. i had noticed the van having problems with the occasional missfiring and running rough but put that down to using other marques of fuel supply. Only when i started using my fuel card and exclusively shell fuelsave did the problems get worse dangerously stalling on junctions and erratic pullaways .It got so bad that i had to call out the aa for recovery who were very quick to diagnose a fuel pump and what garage would i like it towed to . However not convinced of this i thought long and hard on the problem and suddenly realised that the only fuel supplier now is shell .changed fuel to esso mainly and others and after 50 miles no problems since except now poor starting in the mornings.speaking to other van drivers of all makes and found that newer vans were having similar problems as i was having and so i relayed my diagnosis and remedy which they have tried and not one of them has had any more problems since switching to other suppliers. I have had no problems with shell before fuelsave but there is something they have added or taken out that a lot of vehicles do not like .

  21. Chuck

    I drive two cars, one is a city runabout (VW Polo 1.2 petrol) and the other one is my company car for longer journeys (BMW 320d diesel). I used Shell for a while now and after a couple of months using it for both cars i’m going to give my conclusions.

    I can say that my VW Polo don’t have any major problems using Shell Fuelsave unleaded and it does run smoother than the supermarket fuels that are local to me (Tesco). I can’t really comment on the fuel savings however as personally I don’t see much of a difference in miles I can stretch out of the tank. So at this time i’m quite happy using the Shell Fuelsave Unleaded for my little VW Polo.

    However when it comes to Shell Fuelsave Diesel when using my BMW 320d then it’s the opposite. The car becomes hesitant on low revs, so much that I embarassingly stalled the car doing 10 mph in 2nd gear when I try to move away from a junction. To rectify this I had to frequently change down to a lower gear as I felt the car was almost going to give up. As an experiment I switched to Shell V-Power Diesel to see if its really the Fuelsave diesel thats giving it problems. Although costly, with V-Power Diesel in the car it was transformed, the hesistation was gone and performance felt more snappy. The trip computer also reported increased MPG as well. Afterwards I switched back to Fuelsave (with some help of Millers EcoMax treatment) and the hesitation returned. So there must be something Shell added to the Fuelsave diesel thats causing problems, so I’m going to say in future that i’m going to avoid Fuelsave Diesel in my BMW and either stick with the V-Power Diesel (which is expensive) or try a different fuel company altogether. Even as a Shell loyalty card holder i’m willing to give up the large diesel points if its means good for the car.

  22. Chris

    Got an 09 Fiat Sedici running the 120 PS 1.9 JTD. Happy with Morrison’s unleaded for my old Chrysler but switched to Shell after finding the Moggie’s diesel made the Fiat rough under load. It was great for a year and I carried on when they introduced FuelSave. Again, all was well until the start of this year when the power would occasionally disappear at lower revs – slow hesitant pick-up and that “it’s about to break down” feeling until (in lower gears at least) it catches at around 2,000 revs. It feels hesitant under engine braking, too. It’s now doing it pretty much all the time unless I keep the revs up, which is not easy in traffic.

    I don’t always use Shell as there’s not always one around when I need it but I’d say I use it at least 75% of the time and I don’t think I’ve used anything else this year. I’ve brought the 18,000 mile service forward to tomorrow so we’ll see.. and I was going to put a tenner in to get me there. I might fill up at a Supermarket instead.

  23. Thomas

    I recently filled up my Skoda Octavia 1.6 2003 model with 47 litres of V-power petrol when it was on reserve. After running for 50-60 miles the engine management light ( testing engine electronics) came on. Also there the car was pinking a bit like it needed more rev to the get the same power. Drove another 100 miles with it.While googling I came across this website which made sense . Later I filled 23 litres of normal tesco petrol when the tank was close to half full. Meanwhile I booked an appointment with a local garage to check the error also send a email to shell , didn’t get much response from Shell after updating them on the details of the fuel station and details of my problem. After 60 miles of driving my engine management light has gone off. Praise the Lord! and Hope it stays like that.

  24. Tom

    I have a Renault megane dci and decided to try the fuel save After using v-power for the past year and a half I had done About 200 miles In it when I got a warning saying “check emissions” I ran the car till empty and refilled with v power and I had the ecu reset and since then no problems.

  25. Libby

    Well I sent a letter and bill to their General Manager UK Retail on 23rd December. Heard nothing. Sent a recorded delivery letter on 7th February – still heard nothing.

    Thinking if they just ignore me I might just crawl away…..

    Anyone had a response?

  26. Stu

    I own a 07 plate V6 deisel vauxhall signum and do approximately 30k miles per year, mostly business.

    What made me scour the Internet for this thread is that, I believe, my car shows a regular MPG 3-4 miles lower than with the original shell fuel, or with BP / Esso.

    There are no problems in terms of loss of power, it’s just with the same driving style, my mpg is lower than expected.

    Is this co-incidence or feasible that the new fuel from shell is actualy worse for mpg, even on a 4yr old car??

  27. Graham

    I’ve got a 57 plate Fiat Grande Punto 1.2 8v. I’ve been using this since it first came out and almost immediately my MPG went down from an average of 49MPG to around 44. I’ve slowly managed to get it back up to around 48MPG but that’s taken a good 6 to 8 months and I’m definitely not seeing the claimed fuel saving on this petrol. Sadly both my local (and cheapest) stations are Shell and filling up with petrol that’s 3 to 5p a litre more expensive to test the theory that the petrol is naff isn’t in budget.

    I’ve not changed my driving style at all, 90% of my mileage is on the urban cycle and as I rely on my car for getting to and from work at unsocial hours it’s been well maintained from when I bought it new so the only variable is the petrol. I only ever fill the tank to half to maximise economy too and I still can’t pull they claimed figures out of the hat. Very disappointing but at least it’s the cheapest near me.

  28. JAMES

    got a 53 plate ford mondeo, filled up with fuelsave drove home, left car on drive. tried to start next morning and it would turn over but not start. Turns out the fuel pump has busted. My brother filled up at same garage but with diesel and had a problem with some valves on his audi a4. Waiting for reply from shell….

  29. Libby

    I have not had much replies from Shell other than deny all responsibility. I have sent the report on the car and they refuse to answer.
    Should ‘watchdog’ be notified of this page then see if they can get some answers. I am still over £800 out of pocket .

  30. james

    got reply from shell, they say problems with my car are not the fault of shell fuelsave. they said they checked the petrol supplied to the garage and now closed the case i opened with them. so thanks a bunch shell!

  31. Katayoun

    I was relieved finally to find an answer to a perplexing problem with my car. I drive a Nissan Almera, 14 years old and in good condition with a lot of mileage. I regularly use Shell unleaded petrol.

    For nearly two years I have been having a progressively worsening condition with my car relating to my engine, usually worse at start up as if petrol was just not getting through to the engine, and on ocassion cutting out altogether. A few times on a busy dual carriageway. Every time my car stopped working and I called at AA, after 15 minutes just sitting still the engine would come on fine. They couldn’t ascertain the problem.

    So for all this time I had no real answer, I had the car checked, new filter put in, regular services but the problem progressively got worse.

    Recently I used ASDA petrol for the first time and miraculously the car worked perfectly and I have not had start up issues and breakdowns. Now I realise for the first time the problem is not my car but Shell Petrol! I feel rather let down by what I thought was a reputable company.

  32. 118118

    Running a 55 plate Peugeot 407 diesel – do 500 miles a week and have been using Shell Fuel Save diesel, for a while now my car has been having real issues with acceleration, so bad in fact that I have to use the crawler lane if going up hill, thought the issue had gone away over the xmas break but now is back worst than ever – suddenly realised main difference was that my wife filled the car up at Morrisons over the holiday whilst I always use the Shell garage on the way to work – so decided to google and found lots of people talking about this issue and thought I’d add my pennys worth – so going to fill up from Morrisons / BP going forward and see if it sorts it out.

    Has anyone had any success complaining to Shell??

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