Fuel Grades: Which Octane is Right for You?

Fuel Grades: Which Octane is Right for You?
When you stop at the gas station, which pump do you reach for: Regular, Midrange, or Premium? Most likely you’ve always filled up with regular gasoline since it’s so much cheaper. But what’s the difference? Does premium gasoline give you better gas mileage? Will regular wear out your engine faster? We’ve put together a handy guide to fill you in on just what the difference is between the three common fuel grades.

First up, what’s the difference? You have probably noticed the octane rating on the pumps when you fill up. Regular is usually rated at 87 octane, and premium falls between 91 and 93. All that signifies is how much compression the fuel can withstand before combusting. The higher the octane, the more pressure it can take. This is really only a factor for high-performance or turbo charged engines. Those operate at higher compression ratios than average cars, which means regular gasoline can combust too early and damage your engine over time. The easiest way to confirm if you should be using premium is to check your owner’s manual. If it says your engine requires premium, use premium. If it’s only a recommendation, it’s up to your discretion. You might see slightly higher performance out of your engine, but it will also run just fine on regular or midrange gas if you’re looking to save some money.

Contrary to what you may have heard, if your car only requires regular you will see no benefits from using premium. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “In most cases, using a higher-octane gasoline than your owner’s manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit. It won’t make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage or run cleaner.” There’s no real reason to spend more money on premium gas when your vehicle only requires regular. If you have been using premium it won’t hurt your engine, but it will hurt your wallet. We recommend using regular whenever you are able to and save a ton of money.

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