Is Premium Grade Gas Worth the Money?
When motorists roll up to a gas station, they’re presented with a variety of choices. Do they want to pay cash or credit? Save by pre-purchasing a car wash? Use accumulated points? And last but certainly not least, what kind of gas will they pick for their vehicle?
The choices at most stations are typically regular leaded and unleaded gas, premium gas, and diesel fuel. With all these options, some car owners may not be sure what’s best for their vehicle. We’re providing the information to help you make that choice.
What’s the difference between premium and regular gasoline?
There are a few key differences between premium and regular gasoline.
- Octane rating: Premium gas has a higher octane rating than regular gas. The higher octane level prevents combustion and engine knocking sounds. Consistent engine knocking sounds mean a visit to the mechanic is in order.
- Horsepower boost: It’s not always the case, but cars that require the premium option will often receive a horsepower boost when that gas is used to fill their tank. Some cars say it’s mandatory, for others it is simply recommended. If you’re hauling larger vehicles or using a truck, it can help.
- Efficiency: The higher octane level means the fuel burns more efficiently. However, experts say the difference isn’t distinct enough to make a huge difference overall.
When should I use premium fuel?
Many motorists just aren’t sure. The loose recommendations versus mandates that car manufacturers include can make things more confusing. Many manufacturers or dealers recommend you use premium, but it’s not necessarily mandated. There’s really only one reason to use premium fuel.
- The owner’s manual requires it: If you’ve purchased a high-performance vehicle, truck, or luxury auto, you may have noticed this mandate in the manual. If it’s specifically required, you should absolutely use premium gas when filling up. It will help you avoid the engine knocking problems and possible repairs mentioned above.
Don’t fall for fuel suppliers who claim to put a different additive in their premium fuel. The cleaning additives required in all types of gasoline are mandated by law, so you don’t really need anything special. Only high-performance engines require high-octane fuel.
Spending money on premium gas when your vehicle doesn’t require it is a waste of money. This money could be better spent on other things for your vehicle that will help extend its life, like a vehicle protection plan, tire replacement, undercarriage sealing, or more.
Check your owner’s manual or the sticker near your gas valve to be sure of what kind of gas your vehicle needs.
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After more than 16 years as a technician and service advisor, Adam Karner transitioned to the auto protection industry in 2009. As a Product Manager for Endurance Dealer Services, he brings valuable hands-on experience. Read more about Adam.