February 15

When Picking Your Gasoline: What's the Difference?


We all put gas in our vehicles without giving it much thought. We see the fuel gauge getting low, or the light goes on to tell us that we are really low, and we stop to fill up. The price of gas might factor into what station you stop at, and you also have to choose regular unleaded or premium, but does it make a difference? It is important to understand the differences between premium gas and unleaded gas so  you know what will maximize the performance of your vehicle.
Regular Unleaded
Regular unleaded gas is the most common choice for drivers all around the world. This gas does not have any lead compounds, and it is better for the environment than gas with lead. The octane rating is an important factor when considering what type of gas to use. The higher the octane, the more resistant the gas is to spontaneous exploding. Regular gas has a lower octane rating than what you see in premium gas, but it might not make a difference depending on your vehicle.

Premium Unleaded
Premium gas is similar to regular unleaded, but it has a higher octane rating. The rating for premium sits at 90 or even higher, which means it can withstand knocking or resist combustion better than the regular. This gas will sometimes burn more efficiently depending on the car and might get you better fuel economy than if you use regular gas.
Which Do You Choose
To find out which gas you should use in your vehicle, check the owners manual. Car manufacturers will let you know if they recommend using premium, and if the manual states specifically that you should use it, there is no question. Using premium gas will help to make sure the engine stays in good shape and performs to its full potential. If it is just a recommendation, you can use regular unleaded without seeing much difference in how the car performs.
Keep in mind that if you use premium gas in a car that the manufacturer recommends using regular unleaded, it won’t hurt the engine, but you’ll pay more for gas, and you most likely won’t see any better performance.
Do Your Own Road Test
If the manufacturer doesn’t have a specific recommendation, you can do your own road test to see how the car performs with each. Fill up with regular unleaded and drive it until you empty the tank. Make a note of the miles per gallon you were able to get, and then fill the tank back up with premium gas. Drive the car again trying to stay within the same mileage with the same driving habits to see what the difference is. If you find the car performs better with the premium, calculate the cost to see if it is worth spending the extra money on the higher octane gas.
The type of gas your vehicle needs depends on the vehicle and the manufacturer. Your best bet is to look at the manual and follow the recommendations.
 
Photo: “At the Pump” by Mountain Roamer licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 | Cropped from original


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