As you pull up to the pump, you’re greeted by three different gasoline choices with varying prices. When you own a vehicle, it’s only natural to want the best gas for your engine. The collective zeitgeist tells you that a car can last for 10 years or longer with the right gas in the tank. However, there are many myths and truths that have been muddled through the years regarding fuel choices. You might wonder if premium is truly better than regular gas. Take a deeper look at gasoline, and you’ll be able to make a smarter decision at the pump tomorrow.
- Understanding OctaneThe octane levels that you see at the pump can range from 87 to 91. These values are based on the molecular consistency of the gasoline. For simplicity purposes, premium gasoline has more octane molecules compared to regular. When you have more octane in the engine, there are fewer chances of “knock” occurring within the combustion chamber. Knock occurs when air and fuel create an explosion without the spark plug being involved. This loud noise is physically damaging to the engine, so you want to reduce its occurrence as much as possible.
- Modern-Car Commuters Can Use RegularIf you own a car that’s been manufactured in the past 10 or 15 years, it will run smoothly on regular gasoline. Car designers create engines that have a specific compression ratio based on physical dimensions within the combustion chamber. Because the dimensions are perfectly aligned, knock won’t happen very often in everyday cars. You can add premium gas to the car, but you won’t see a major difference in longevity or performance.
- Older Vehicles BewareVehicles manufactured in the 1980s or earlier will have an entirely different engine design. Design specifications weren’t as strict in the past, and knock science wasn’t as advanced as it is now. For older vehicles, it’s best to use a premium gasoline. The higher octane will reduce any potential knocks in the engine. As a result, the older engine can last longer compared to using regular fuel.
- High-Performance Engine NeedsCar designers alter compression ratios and other dimensional specifications when it comes to outfitting a high-performance vehicle. The engine is meant to offer features that a commuting car doesn’t have, such as:
- Rapid acceleration
- Sustained high speeds
- Powerful torque
Because high-performance vehicles require a different engine design, they’re usually required to have premium gasoline. The high-octane value reduces knock during regular driving while protecting the engine from any damage. With high-performance vehicles costing many thousands of dollars, opting for premium gas is only a small investment in the car.
- Hot-Weather Scenarios
There have been some vehicle tests where fuel mileage was compared between regular and premium. When one vehicle was tested with premium gas in extremely hot conditions, the car produced a better fuel-mileage value compared to regular fuel. However, most cars won’t have sustained and extreme conditions all the time. Regular fuel should still save you money with everyday vehicles.
One of the best ways to control your gasoline expenditures is by keeping track of your mileage. Make a budget for your monthly gasoline costs, and compare these charges to your driving habits. Combine errands into one driving session in order to reduce the miles that you drive, for instance. Regardless of the gasoline’s octane value, you can afford your fuel costs with a little planning.