What kind of gas does my car take? Not knowing what gas is best for your car can leave you scratching your head at the gas station. No one wants to be in that situation. But with different types of gasoline, it’s important to know which one your engine requires.
The vehicle’s owner’s manual usually says what type of fuel to use. It may also be listed by the gas cap and even near the fuel gauge too. Buy premium fuel only if your car uses it (that’s 91 or 93 octane gas). Otherwise, fill it up with regular fuel.
What kind of gas does my car take?
Whether you buy a new or used car, you may run into some other factors. Here are some other considerations to help you know what gas is best for your car:
- E85: E85 is a different type of fuel. It’s a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, which contributes to less pollution. Some flex-fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or E85, but generally don’t get as good a fuel economy. Adding E85 to a non-capable vehicle can void its warranty.
- RON 95/RON 98: These are used to specify some European cars, with RON 95 being equal to 87 octane (and thus meaning “regular”) and RON 98 being equal to 94 octane (which can be substituted with 93 octane fuel).
- High Altitudes: Lower-octane fuel is often sold at higher elevations. It is suited for older vehicles built before 1975. However, modern fuel-injected engines can adjust to lower oxygen content. Therefore, continue to use the manufacturer’s recommended octane. If your car uses high-octane fuel, it may not be available, so fuel up at a lower altitude if you’re traveling into the mountains.
Is higher-octane gas of better quality?
One thing is for sure, higher-octane gas won’t increase the performance of your car if it doesn’t require it. Octane isn’t a measure of the energy a fuel has. The main consideration is what your car requires. Gasoline with a higher number is more resistant to preignition, or when the air-fuel mixture ignites prematurely.
A vehicle in which the engine has a higher fuel-air compression ratio (to generate more power) uses a higher octane because the heat generated increases the likelihood of earlier ignition.
In this case, using a lower octane gas can cause preignition, knocking, and engine damage. Knock sensors in newer cars can prevent preignition. However, this can reduce engine power and fuel efficiency.
Another consideration is if your vehicle has a diesel engine. If you fill the tank with anything other than diesel fuel, the engine will not run and can potentially be catastrophically damaged.
Then again, if your vehicle manufacturer indicates “premium fuel recommended”, regular, midgrade, or premium can be used. Higher-octane fuel may just give you a little more fuel economy. But using regular gas won’t damage the engine.
When can i use regular gas?
If your car recommends regular 87 octane gas, you’re in luck. You can safely use the cheap stuff. Premium fuel won’t make the engine run better or produce more power. There’s simply no benefit to buying premium fuel unless there’s a difference in the ethanol content.
It’s not uncommon for regular gas to be up to 15% ethanol (often called ‘E15’) and the premium option to be ethanol-free. Ethanol is a less efficient fuel than gasoline, which means ethanol-free gas will always be more efficient than gas with any ethanol in it.
However, the extra cost of ethanol-free premium gas over regular E15 is often more than what you’ll save with the slight difference in fuel economy.
Can i choose what kind of fuel i use?
If your car says “premium fuel recommended,” you have a choice — you can run regular, midgrade, or premium. Although the difference may be slight, these engines generally develop more power and better fuel economy on higher-octane fuel. However, you won’t damage the engine or void your warranty by using regular gas.
Our advice is to run a few tanks of both regular and premium and calculate your fuel economy. Decide for yourself if the differences in power and fuel economy, if they’re even noticeable, are worth the extra cost of premium fuel.
Why do some cars require higher octane?
Before knowing why some cars need higher octane, it’s important to understand what exactly octane is. When you activate the ignition, this creates a spark that ignites the compressed air and fuel mixing in your engine, which is what allows the gas to power your car.
Sometimes this mixture can ignite prematurely, a phenomenon known as preignition, which is signaled by a knocking sound coming from the engine. Modern cars usually have knock sensors that prevent this.
The octane of your gasoline has nothing to do with how much energy is in the fuel. It is a measure of how easily your air-fuel mixture ignites. Higher octane means the gasoline you are using has a greater resistance to preignition. That is to say, it requires greater agitation to ignite it. That is all that the octane level indicates.
Many premium cars generate greater power by using a higher fuel-air compression ratio in the engine. Because the mixture is more compressed, it generates more heat and thereby is more likely to ignite early. Higher octane gasoline is more resistant to this problem.
What happens if you don’t use the best gas for your car?
Your gas cap or instructions near the gas cap should indicate if your car requires premium fuel. You can also check the owner’s manual for specific information on what kind of octane fuels are appropriate for your car.
If your car requires premium gas and you use a lower octane like 87, you can expect knocking, preignition and engine damage particularly if you have an older model vehicle.
If you have a modern car, your knock sensor will kick in to prevent preignition, but this will reduce your engine power and diminish fuel economy, so you will lose more money than you save by using the cheaper gas. It’s also conceivable that your knock sensor could be faulty or slow, which could still result in engine damage over time.
Why do some gasoline types cost more than others?
The most noticeable difference between grades of gasoline is the cost, and motorists often wonder why higher-grade options cost more. The reason is that the additives and components used for boosting octane are generally more expensive to produce.
At the time of this writing, the average price of regular unleaded in the United States is $3.82 per gallon, and a gallon of mid-grade costs $4.22, according to AAA. The website shows that drivers buying high-octane premium gasoline can expect the price to be 73 cents more than regular, or $4.55 per gallon on average.
That means it costs about $11 more to fill a 15-gallon tank with high-octane premium gas than it would with lower-octane regular.
Is Gas with Higher Octane Worth the Price Difference?
Yes. However, it’s only worth the price difference if your car requires higher octane gasoline such as mid-grade or premium fuel. Otherwise, you would be wasting money. Always use the fuel recommended your owner’s manual.
What Type of Gas Does My Car Need?
Your car’s minimum octane rating is found in the owner’s manual. Cars that require premium fuel will usually say so on or near the gas cap and sometimes even by the fuel gauge. If your car specifies premium fuel, use it. Otherwise, fill up with the lower-priced regular fuel.
Does Gasoline Go Bad?
Volatile compounds in gasoline degrade over time, and the combustibility of old gas decreases, even when properly stored. Gasoline can get contaminated by things such as dirt and rust. Refresh old gas by mixing it with a high ratio of fresh gasoline. Contaminated gas should not be used to power any equipment because it can damage the engine’s components.
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