Choosing the right fuel

You want to make the right choices for your car, but with all the options out there, it’s easy to get confused! Gasoline is a good example: what exactly do those numbers mean on regular, midgrade, and premium gas? Let’s take a closer look.

Bigger is better?

You may think that the higher the octane level, the better your engine will run. But actually, it all depends on your engine specifications. The vast majority of vehicles only need regular gasoline to run smoothly. Many newer sports cars can also run on regular gasoline. You can use higher octane gas, but it won’t make your car more powerful, faster, or even more fuel efficient. Check the user’s manual to be on the safe side. Plus, if a car needs a higher octane gasoline, it’s usually indicated on the fuel tank cap.

What you need to know about gasoline

The gasoline octane level indicates a fuel’s anti-knock rating or resistance to detonation. Engine knocking happens when the mix of air and gasoline ignites prematurely in the combustion chamber. At the pump, the most commonly available gasolines have octane ratings of 87, 89, and 92 respectively. That means that premium gasoline—with its octane level of 92—is the most resistant to spontaneous combustion. Supercharged engines and engines with high compression ratios (such as sports cars) have a higher level of octane, as delayed ignition improves performance for sports cars. But, on a standard engine, higher octane gas makes virtually no difference!

Should you clean your engine with premium gasoline?

The composition of gasoline is controlled to reduce engine deposits, but don’t be fooled into thinking that high octane fuel will clean your engine. Plus, each gasoline company puts its own mix of additives into the gas sold at its service stations. The most important thing to remember is that the fuel quality is controlled and that the additives are simply a bonus.

Did you know?

The gasoline used in F1 race cars is very similar to the gas sold at gas stations. The difference is the octane level and additives!