Should I Use Premium or Regular Gas?
Do I REALLY need to use premium gas if my car says to?
You drive up to the gas pump, swipe your card, pick up the handle, and look down to see different options for the type of gas to use. You think to yourself, “Self, what’s the difference between premium and regular gas? Is it even worth the price?”. I don’t blame you for asking, it can seem like a rip off! Who does your car think it is needing the expensive stuff, Paris Hilton?! Well, unfortunately, unlike Paris Hilton, there actually are some good reasons some cars require the premium stuff. Let’s talk about why it actually might matter, and if it’s worth the extra dough.
“Knock, knock!” “Who’s there?” “It’s your engine!” “Engine who?!” “Your engine! You put cheaper gas in me, and now I’m knocking!” As painful as that joke was to read, putting cheaper gas in a car that requires premium can sometimes be just as painful for your engine
Premium gas is actually the same type of gas, but with a higher-octane level. Those seemingly random numbers on the gas pumps are actually the different octane levels. The octane level determines the general performance of the gas. When your engine is running, gas is sprayed into the cylinders as a mist mixed with air. When the pistons move in the cylinder the gas gets compressed, then it ignites and explodes moving the cylinder back down. This cycle of compression and explosion is basically how your car runs. The power from the explosion is turned into power to move your wheels. The amount that the gas is compressed in the engine before exploding is called the compression ratio. Now, this is important because some engines are built with extreme precision and designed to have higher compression ratios to produce more power. Engines with higher compression ratios require gas with a high enough octane to withstand the higher compression. That is why some engines, typically in luxury or high-performance cars, require premium gas.
Although the manufacturers of the engines will always recommend what is best for the engine, you can sometimes get away with using lower octane gas. When you use lower octane gas it can cause the gas to ignite earlier than usual. That causes what is known as “engine knocking” … now you get the joke? While this isn’t always detrimental to the engine, it can most definitely cause some serious issues later on. So, let me be clearif your car’s owner’s manual tells you to use premium gas…USE PREMIUM GAS! There is no way to get around it. Even though it may seem like you are saving a few bucks using the cheaper gas, if your car requires premium, you could cause some pretty expensive damage in the long run.
At the end of the day, your car is a complex machine, and the manufacturer will always have the right answer. Always follow their guidelines to maintain optimal performance and health of your car’s engine. If you aren’t sure if your car needs premium gas, or you can’t find it in your owner’s manual, check out this site to try and find your car. Remember, saving a little money in the short run can cost you a lot of money in the long run, especially when it comes to maintaining your car!