Are Higher Grades of Gasoline Worth the Extra Cost

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are Higher Grades of Gasoline Worth the Extra Cost

With the rising cost of gas, you might be wondering if you should splurge and use higher grade gas.  You have probably been told that there is no difference between regular and premium gas.  On the other hand, you have heard from time to time that premium gas is much better for your vehicle.  The problem with all of the facts you have heard is that they have come from friends with no real expertise in gas or automobiles.  To make the right decision, you need to make sure you have the right information.  Find the differences between each grade of gas, the difference in price, and how each gas will perform with your engine.

The Difference Between Regular, Mid-grade, and Premium Gas

When you visit a gas station, each type of gas has its own octane rating.  Regular gas has an octane rating of 87, mid-grade gas has a rating of 89, and premium has a rating of 91.  While some believe the octane rating indicates how much power the fuel will deliver, this could not be further from the truth.  All of the grades contain approximately the same amount of heat energy.  The difference in octane rating actually concerns how your engine will perform.

How Will Your Engine Perform Differently with Each Grade of Gas?

When you use a higher octane rating, your engine is less likely to knock.  Engine knocking, which is technically described as detonation, occurs because of bad fuel-air mixture.  When a cylinder in your engine ignites because of compression, the spark plug will cause combustion, which in turn leads to a knocking engine.  With higher octane fuel, you will get a better controlled burn and you will prevent the chances of experiencing this internal explosion.  Higher octane gas not only burns slower, the slower burn also makes the likelihood of ignition in the engine less likely.

Which Cars Need Higher Octane Gas?

Now that you understand the difference between regular and premium gas, you need to know which cars require premium.  Most cars today are designed to run on regular gas.  If you look at your model manual, the manufacturer will specify which gas you should use when you have a stock engine.  Not all vehicle owners should use regular gas.  If you have a high performance vehicle, you should probably go with 91-gas because your engine is designed for high compression.  The best rule of thumb is using high octane gas when you have a high compression engine.  The higher the compression, the more power the engine has.  If you use regular gas and you have high compression engine, it may cause your engine to knock over time.

The Cost Difference Between Regular and Premium Gas

You might be wondering just how much more premium costs than regular.  The price difference can be anywhere between 20 cents and 40 cents per gallon, depending on where you live.  This means, with a 16 gallon tank, you will spend $3.20 to $6.40 more every time you fill up.  If you fill up 5 times a month, you are spending $16 to $32 more each month.

You have to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using high octane gas before you decide this is the right choice for you.  While high octane gas can prevent engine knocking, some experts say that the slower burning gas can make engines dirtier when they are used in the standard vehicle.  The best rule of thumb is to stick with premium gas when you have a premium vehicle with high compression engine.  If you stick to this rule, you can get the most out of your gas.


This article was written by Karl Stockton, a car enthusiast and avid reader, writer and researcher.

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