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Difference Between Leaded Petrol and Unleaded Petrol

Leaded Petrol vs Unleaded Petrol

Different types of petrol can be bought at the pump. Although some may be self-explanatory, there are still some that many find confusing like leaded and unleaded petrol. The main difference between leaded petrol and unleaded petrol is the additive tetraethyl lead. There were other types used previously, but this is the most popular. This additive, used in leaded petrol and not in unleaded petrol, contains the element of lead.

Petrol was just petrol until engines started having higher compression rates and they started to auto-ignite, commonly referred to as knocking or pinging. Petrol companies discovered that adding a lead-based additive eliminated the knocking, thus giving rise to leaded petrol. Much later it was discovered that lead had some undesirable side effects, and governments started to discourage the use of leaded petrol and urged companies to develop unleaded petrol as an alternative.

The combustion of leaded petrol causes the lead to be released into the air. Lead is a heavy pollutant that does damage not only to the environment but also to the people who are exposed to it. The prevalent use of leaded petrol saw a steady rise in the lead levels of people residing in populated areas where vehicles were prevalent. Prolonged exposure to large amounts of lead can eventually cause lead poisoning, which can be fatal.

As the negative effects of lead were discovered, governments were keen to remove leaded petrol from regular use. They started off with different tax rates for leaded and unleaded petrol, then some eventually resorted to banning leaded petrol altogether and imposing very stiff fines for those caught possessing or using it. Still, there are some areas where the use of leaded petrol is still allowed. A few examples include motor racing, heavy equipment, and marine vehicles.

Even though leaded petrol is no longer available at the pump, the name of unleaded petrol has stuck ever since. Oil companies have also managed to find alternative additives to increase the octane rating of their petrol without using lead. As long as you use the recommended petrol for your vehicle, you should have no problems whatsoever.


1.Leaded petrol contains lead additives while unleaded petrol doesn’t.
2.Leaded petrol creates more pollution than unleaded petrol.
3.Leaded petrol poses more of a health risk than unleaded petrol.
4.Unleaded petrol is available for public consumption while leaded petrol is banned.

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  1. The information provided is very useful,because before visiting this site,i had no idea about the difference between leaded an unleaded now im understand it.

  2. nice info. The information provided is very useful,because before visiting this site,i had no idea about the difference between leaded an unleaded now understand it.
    it is very clear too.

  3. Very Useful info. Summery Given Concludes Everything in the Article.

  4. Very clarifying
    Thank You!

  5. Sir is octane number of Indian lead free petrol is greater than octane number of leaded petrol?

  6. Wonder full info.

  7. Leaded gasoline has been banned since 1986. 😉

  8. Now I know thank you

  9. Yes, it is a well-written article – informative, balanced and concise: not a word superfluous and nothing lacking in its explanation. The writer should be complimented. There is one point that could be taken up a little further:
    rightly held that lead content is or can be dangerous to human beings and/but that it is or may be still used in racing cars, what then is or might be the danger to the many motor racing enthusiasts present as onlookers at race meetings?
    Thank you for your reply.

  10. Thanks you very much for the knowledge. I appreciate

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