With gas prices soaring to nearly 4 dollars here in Tacoma, you might find yourself wondering if that premium gas is actually doing anything to help save your tank.

While there’s no question that strictly diesel cars should only use diesel and vise versa, the answer on whether premium is necessary is, well, it depends. Here’s our breakdown on regular versus premium, who should use what, and why premium matters. 

Regular vs. Premium Gas

To understand the difference between regular and premium gas you need to understand how octane works. At the pump you’ll notice that regular gas is typically rated 87, with premium rated as either 91 or 93. 

A higher octane gas means that that gas is capable of withstanding a higher compression before detonating. In other words, higher octane gas is more predictable and less likely to detonate at the wrong time. For most low-power engines (i.e. most cars), low octane gas won’t cause any damage, and high octane gas won’t create any significant change in performance. 

Check out Kelly Blue Book’s helpful breakdown of octane rating.

Who Should Use Premium?

Some cars function with higher compression ratios than others. These types of high-performance cars typically require premium gas in order to keep the engine performance at top capacity. Using low-octane gas with a high octane engine can lower your fuel efficiency and even lead to possible engine damage. The best way to tell if your vehicle requires premium is to consult your owners manual. 

Vehicles that do not require premium gas don’t get anything out of it. So if you’ve been using premium gas on your non-premium needing car, you can probably switch to a lower octane gas and save a few cents per gallon. 

Making the Switch

Making the switch from premium to regular for a car that doesn’t require regular shouldn’t come with any adverse consequences. At most, your engines acceleration may be slower by half a second, but nothing too extravagant.  The only time that fuel type will really matter is either when your car specially calls for premium oil, or if you drive an older model. Some older cars are meant only to use high octane fuel, with low octane fuel leading to knocking and other issues.

Our advice here at Courtesy Auto? If your car doesn’t require premium, go ahead and get regular. It gives your car the fuel it needs and saves you a few bucks in the long run.

If your car is having issues, contact us to schedule an appointment today.