Rock Talk

What gas is right for your car?

Last updated on November 7, 2019 at 01:43 pm

Summer is here, which means the time for long road trips is upon us. If you are part of the 35% of Americans who plan on traveling this summer, then it might be time to consider whether you should opt for regular gasoline if you typically buy premium. The consensus among energy experts at the California Energy Commission (CEC) is that even if the manufacturer recommends premium gasoline for your car, then it might not be required.

Many drivers assume premium gasoline is better gasoline for cars, but the advantage of premium gasoline is limited to performance-oriented engines where higher octane fuel can provide better acceleration and power output. This information could help consumers everywhere save money at the pump heading into the summer season. So how do you determine if you should use regular or premium gasoline?

Check the owner’s manual. If you are unsure whether your car should use premium or regular gasoline, look through the owner’s manual for recommended octane level for the engine. If you own a high-performance luxury car, your owner’s manual may call for premium gasoline (usually 92 or 93 octane). If you find that your car only needs 87 octane fuel, then you can start purchasing regular gasoline instead of premium. Unless you have one of those high performance cars, or you are experiencing engine knocking (rare these days), 87 octane fuel will be just fine. For you, the only remarkable difference between premium and regular is how much you pay.

Know your car’s engine. Higher octane gasoline is more resistant to engine knock, the premature detonation of fuel in the engine’s cylinders.  Occasional knocking won’t hurt your car, but heavy knocking can cause engine damage.  Saving at the pump could end up costing you at the mechanic if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, modern engines are now complex enough to mostly prevent knocking, even with lower octane fuel. If you hear your engine knock when using the recommended fuel, try switching to a higher-grade gasoline. If knocking continues after a couple fill-ups, your car may need a tune-up.

Save Money. Switching from premium to regular can save you money at the pump. If you aren’t driving a high powered sports car and just need to get from place to place, fueling up with regular gasoline is fine. So before you take that summer road trip with the family, make sure you’re using the right gasoline for your car and your wallet.

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