What are the differences in fuel grades in relation to car performance?

Published: 10/18/2010 by AutoShopit

What are the differences in fuel grades in relation to car performance?

When it comes to choosing the best fuel for your vehicle, there are many people who won’t use anything other than premium in their cars. But does this more expensive option make a difference to a car’s performance?

There are three main grades of gasoline on the market, regular (with an octane rating of 87), midgrade (89) and premium (92). The octane level of these gases indicates their volatility level, and each burns differently when used as fuel in a vehicle – the lower the octane rating, the easier the gas will burn, and the more likely it could make a knocking sound within your engine.

Regular vehicles are generally designed to handle regular gasoline and eliminate the pinging sound, however higher-performance models such as SUVs and sports cars may benefit from a higher octane fuel because they have been created to have a higher compression level for additional power.

Premium gas is an investment that many car owners are willing to make in order to keep their vehicles running smoothly; however it is not a necessity in every situation.  To find out whether premium is right for your vehicle, review these simple steps:

Look it up: The first place you should turn when determining whether your vehicle requires premium gas is in your owner’s manual. If it specifies that you should be using premium, then it could be detrimental to your car’s performance to go with regular fuel.  On the other hand, if it doesn’t indicate that premium is necessary, it’s up to you to do a bit of detective work to find out for yourself.

Listen for the knock: If you can hear a knocking sound when you are pressing down on your gas pedal, it might be time to give premium a shot. If after making the switch the sound goes away, it’s a clear indication that premium works for your vehicle. Premium is also a better choice for older cars sporting a lot of mileage or with more carbon in their engines, which can require higher grade fuel to perform properly.

Get the facts: If the only reason you are choosing premium gasoline is because you believe it helps keep your engine cleaner, it’s time to switch back to regular. There is little to no indication that premium gases and their additives provide any significant benefit to a typical engine.

You can also take a look through our comprehensive database to find trusted mechanics in your area, ready to work with you to get the best out of your vehicle.  In addition, we offer customers the chance to leave feedback for other users, so that they can share their experiences and recommendations with others seeking a local quality mechanic. 

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