September 10th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
“Regular is less expensive than premium. And I think it has a different number associated with it, though I couldn’t tell you what that number means.”
That’s about the extent of most drivers’ knowledge of gas! Your own friends and family may have no idea what they’re putting into their car. So, what is the difference between premium and regular gas, and why should you care?
To answer that question, first we need to know about those mysterious numbers you see at the pump, like 87, 91, and 93. Those are octane ratings, a measure of the fuel’s ability to resist “knocking” or “pinging” in the engine. The main difference between premium and regular gas is the octane rating; regular gas is typically rated at 87 while premium gas usually receives a rating of 91 or 93.
Some folks are under the impression that premium gas is better for your engine and keeps it cleaner. True, once upon a time premium gas did contain more detergent additives than regular gas, but that was some 40 years ago. Now the law stipulates that all gas must have a minimum detergents level, so that difference has been eliminated.
Premium gas vs regular gas price
Another difference is price. Premium gasoline costs about 20 to 40 cents more a gallon than regular, though this varies state by state. According to the American Automobile Association, a gallon of premium gas in California, on average, will cost you $3.54 per gallon versus $3.24 for regular. In Arizona you’ll pay, on average, $2.86 per gallon for premium and $2.32 for regular.
What happens if you mix premium and regular gas?
If you accidentally fill up your car with regular gas, will it cause problems for your car? If you have an old beater, using the wrong gas could cause engine knock; however, modern vehicles have sensors to prevent this from happening, so you should be fine. What happens if you mix premium and regular gas? Not much but it’s probably not a good idea to make it a habit.
Does using premium fuel make a difference?
So, in the final analysis, what are the benefits of premium fuel? What do you get for the extra cost? Most experts agree that any noticeable advantages from using premium fuel are subtle and hard to detect. In a consumer notice, the Federal Trade Commission stated: “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.”
For engines that require premium, the electronic controls are calibrated to benefit from the additional octane in terms of producing more power and getting better gas mileage.
But if an engine is designed to accommodate regular gas, then there is no reason to use premium fuel. It probably won’t give you any noticeable advantage in terms of driving performance.
Some high performance and luxury vehicles that use premium fuel may experience slightly better gas mileage and handling. Turbocharged car and engines with high compression ratios may require fuel with a higher octane rating. With these exceptions, most modern cars are built to run on regular gas.
Recommended versus Required
What kind of gas should you use in your car? The first step is to check your vehicle owner’s manual. If your car doesn’t require premium, but just recommends it, you should be okay filling her up with regular.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Fairbanks, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing Fairbanks and the surrounding area in Alaska.