|In most countries the price of diesel is about 25 percent less than that of
gasoline. In the UK and Spain, however, diesel costs
virtually the same as gasoline; in Ireland it costs about 15 percent less.
In Switzerland and Slovenia, diesel is more expensive than gasoline....
Diesel engines furthermore
are about 25 percent more efficient than gasoline engines. Therefore in most countries
you end up saving about 40 percent on your fuel costs if you drive a diesel
rather than a gasoline-powered vehicle. Diesels run smoother once they are up
to speed, and they perform better in the
mountains. Though not naturally as powerful (i.e. capable of accelerating) as gasoline engines, many diesels
are boosted by turbo chargers to make up much of this difference. Environmentally,
diesel engines are superior in some important respects, inferior in others. All told, diesel
engines are now just slightly less harmful to the environment than are gasoline-powered engines. Sure diesel smells;
but gasoline smells, too! Over half the new
cars sold in Europe are now diesel; and high-quality diesel fuel is of course available wherever gasoline is sold,
the pumps being on the same service islands as the gasoline pumps. Some stations
even provide disposable gloves which customers may don to pump fuel.
Ireland's Automobile Association (AA) Website for
an up-to-date listing of fuel prices. (Remember, 1 US Gallon = 3.79 Liters.)
Note how cheap fuel typically is in Andorra and Luxembourg relative to
surrounding countries; how it's much cheaper in Spain than in France; how it's more expensive in Switzerland;
how it's much cheaper in Ireland than in the UK;
and how it gets progressively more expensive
from Germany to Denmark to Sweden to Norway. Fuel
in Andorra is typically much cheaper than fuel in either Spain or France.
Fuel is much more expensive at stations along the expressways.
Supermarkets along main roads at the edges of
towns sell the cheapest fuel in France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. In
France the main supermarket chains are
Mammoth and Intermarche; in Germany the main chain is
Spar; in the Netherlands it's
Mamoet. The governments of Italy and Spain and Eastern
Europe regulate fuel prices; all stations have the same price, so don't waste your time
shopping for fuel in these countries.
Pump your own fuel, or make it a habit to check that the attendant doesn't
cheat you. (Make sure he zeroes the pump before he pumps your fuel.) If you pay with a credit card, make sure the receipt is accurate. Some
stations require that you pay not inside at a
counter but outside at a booth upon driving out of the station area. (Although
increasingly you can pay by inserting a credit card in a machine near the pumps.) If this is the case and a
line of vehicles forms at the pay booth, you may have to wait to pump your fuel
until the person who preceded you at the pump pays for theirs. Especially when
dealing with such setups, note the total fuel
charge on the pump so the attendant at the booth can't overcharge you; sometimes the
attendants depend on your honesty and let you quote the total to them at the booth.
In hot weather, fill up early in the morning or late in the evening when the air is
cooler: the fuel will be more dense then, and thus you'll get more fuel for your Euro
(or whatever). If a pump's nozzle won't fit in your tank, you're mistakenly trying to
put leaded gas into a vehicle that requires unleaded. A green pump
holds unleaded fuel, a blue leaded. LPG pumps always occupy their own island.
You might make it a practice to fill up when the fuel level dips to a quarter of a tank, but
fuel stations are so plentiful that the chances of unexpectedly finding yourself low on
fuel and far from a station are very low. If, however, you're careless enough to
come close to running out of fuel, try the following technique: accelerate very slowly to
33 kph; turn off the ignition and move the gear to neutral; let the vehicle slow to 8
kph; start the engine; and repeat. This trick can double or even triple fuel efficiency;
but it's a trick that won't work if your steering wheel locks when the ignition is off, and
it can be dangerous and illegal.