The last time you were at the pump, did you wonder if your car would prefer a higher grade gas? Did you worry that in your effort to save a few cents at the pump, you were going to cost yourself more in the long run? If so, this quick article may ease your conscience or help save you a couple bucks.
For the majority of drivers, there are three options at the gas station when it comes to octane: 87, 91, 93 with their corresponding names “regular”, “plus” and “premium”. Ooh … premium. Boy, I bet my little whip would LOVE premium. And I would love to get it, but the cost! Many car owners think similarly. But they’re wrong. Here’s why.
Premium gas is more expensive but that doesn’t mean it’s any better for your vehicle. Fact is, it won’t make your car go faster, provide better mileage or better protect the engine. Despite the clever marketing of the gas and oil companies, premium gas isn’t “better” gas when it comes to your car – even though it costs more (which must MAKE it better, right?) Nope. Not in the least. All that extra cost doesn’t translate into any real benefit for a regular vehicle. (Unless you drive a vehicle with a high performance engine that is. If you do, you risk damaging the engine with lower octane fuels.)
In a typical compression engine, the fuel is compressed in the engine at the same instant the spark is emitted by the plug to ignite the fuel, causing a small explosion to drive the piston and generate power. The exhausted gas is then vented out of the chamber and the mix of new fuel and air enters as the process begins again.
In a high-performance engine, the pressure exerted by the piston on the fuel-air mixture is greater and can cause the mixture to ignite on its own (like diesel fuel). Since this higher-pressure engine would cause normal gas to ignite too early, the fuel is mixed with a higher amount of octane to delay the ignition by a fraction of a second.
With a higher-octane rating, the fuel can be compressed more before it will ignite which generated more energy in return to generate more power.
Which Fuel Is Right For Your Vehicle?
The easiest way to determine what fuel is best for your car is to check the owner’s manual. You may also see a notice for the preferred octane rating on the inside of your fuel door.