Fuel Grade Guide

According to AAA, American’s collectively wasted $2.1 billion on unnecessary premium fuel purchases during 2015. Some people may look at that statistic and think, “How is it wasting money if you’re buying a product that’s better for your vehicle?” This is a valid question, as conventional thinking has always told us that premium fuel results in better performance and fuel economy.  However, recent findings may tell us otherwise.

AAA completed a study in 2016 that revealed that premium fuel has no benefit to vehicles that require regular 87 octane gas. According to AAA, “After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.” No difference in horsepower. No difference in fuel economy. No difference in emissions.

In the past, premium gas had more additives that helped prevent carbon deposits. However, because of increased emission regulations, all grades of gas now have more additives to reduce carbon and protect the engine. So even if your vehicle recommends premium, you could more than likely run on regular without issue. But if your vehicle is said to require premium, stick with premium.

The clever marketing spin on the different fuel levels may have something to do with the public’s mindset that premium fuel is better for all engines, as who wouldn’t want something that’s labeled Premium? Many people also know that luxury vehicles typically require premium, so if it’s good for vehicles like that, it only makes sense that it’ll make you Civic run like a Porsche, right? Well, not so much.

A reason that premium offers no significant benefit to regular gasoline engines is that they aren’t able to take advantage of the higher octane rating. So your engine will operate as it normally would.

On the flip side, if your car does require premium fuel, using it does optimize your vehicle’s performance.  Most high-performance or luxury vehicles have more power and a higher compression ratio, which means that their engines are more prone to pre-ignition when using the wrong type of fuel. This is due to the fact that these engines require a fuel that is less combustible than regular gas, which helps to prevent pre-ignition and engine knocking.

What this study tells us is that we should listen to the manufacturer recommendations to avoid spending any more on fuel than you have to. And although some fuel brands are better than others, you should still be using good ol’ 87 octane if your vehicle calls for it.

Should you have questions about your fuel system, would like it inspected, or are interested in having a fuel system treatment performed, you should schedule service with a CarAdvise Certified shop today!

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