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Are Higher Grade Fuels REALLY Better for Your Car?

As prices at the pumps remain high, many people look for ways to save money. Some people have turned to fuels with ethanol, but that option has become less prevalent due to the damage ethanol does to car engines. One idea is to switch from premium fuel to regular octane. Although high-grade gas is considered better for a car, it is important to uncover whether or not it is worthwhile or a big waste of a paycheck.


Different Gas Grades

Fuel GradesMost fuel stations offer regular, mid-grade and premium gasoline. The higher the grade, the more octane it contains in its blend. Octane measures the amount of compression needed before ignition. Regular low-grade gas ignites with the lowest amount of compression. Elevated measures of octane allow gas to compress at higher levels than regular gasoline so that more horsepower is produced.

In the past, using low octane fuel caused car engines to knock and led to internal problems. With today’s advanced technology, engines are made to compensate for low octane fuel. This gives drivers more flexibility at the pumps.


Does Premium Gasoline Contain More Detergents?

Since premium gasoline is believed to contain high levels of detergent, many drivers use it to keep an engine from clogging. However, no facts back this theory. By law, every grade of gas must contain some level of detergent. Having too much in the blend actually does more harm than good and causes engine damage.


How Does Low Octane Fuel Hamper Performance?

Since low octane fuel does not allow an engine to take advantage of high ignition advance, a car will have less power and slower acceleration than when using premium octane fuel. However, this loss of performance is barely noticeable, especially with moderate acceleration. The only time performance loss may be detected is during rapid acceleration from a dead stop or while changing lanes at highway speeds.

After examining the differences between low- and high-grade fuels, it appears premium gas is not much better for a car than regular octane. Unless a vehicle’s manual specifically states it is necessary to use high-octane gasoline, it is safe to pump low octane fuel without worry. It will save a great deal of money as well.

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