Get Your Facts on High Octane Gasoline
Many car owners are unsure whether high-octane gasoline will help improve the performance of their cars. To find out what kind of effects high-octane gasoline has on your car, you should first learn about the gasoline engines of cars.
Most cars come equipped with 4-stroke gasoline engines. Of the 4 strokes, one is the compression stroke that compresses a cylinder full of air into a very small volume to ignite the engine. The compression ratio of a typical car engine is 8 to 1. Octane is the main component of fuel, and an octane rating of gasoline will tell you how much the fuel has to be compressed to ignite spontaneously. This is something that car owners have to be aware of, because low octane rating can cause knocking in the engine. High-octane gasoline gives the best timing for ignition, and it can prevent knocking, which is why it is considered a better fuel.
With due understanding of what high-octane gasoline can do to your car, you should consider whether it is worthwhile to switch to premium gas. Of course, the cost of high-octane gas has to be taken into consideration. Premium gas costs more than regular fuel, and the price varies depending on where you live. The difference in price can be anywhere between 15 cents and 20 cents per gallon, which may incur extra costs of more than $100 a year.
Here are some questions and answers that will give you a better understanding of high-octane gasoline:
What are octane ratings? Octane ratings will tell you how resistant the fuel is to burning. When compressed, it should not ignite on its own. The timing is important, and it is taken into consideration when the rating is determined. Usually, filling stations offer 3 grades of octane, which are prominently displayed on bright yellow stickers. Regular fuel has 87 octane, mid-grade is usually 89 octane, and premium is 92 or 93 octane.
What is the right octane level for your car? You can find out the right octane level by checking your owner’s manual. The manual will tell you what fuel works best for your car. Most cars use regular octane gasoline, while sports cars and some luxury cars which have high-compression engines need mid-grade or premium gasoline. You will know that you are using the right grade of gasoline when your engine does not knock.
Will higher-octane gasoline clean your engine better? As a matter of fact, it does not make your car perform any better than the regular octane gasoline. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made it mandatory that engine-cleaning detergents be added to the fuel so that there will be no build-up of deposits from the natural process of fuel combustion.
Should you ever switch to a higher-octane gasoline? If your car engine knocks, even though you have filled up with the recommended octane, you can try the next higher grade. Most of the time, when car owners switch over to a mid-grade or premium-grade gasoline, their engines will work without any knocking. Should the knocking continue, you may have to get your engine tuned. Once it is tuned, you can continue to use the grade of octane that is recommended for your car.
Is knocking harmful? Some engines may “knock” or “ping” and switching to a higher octane may alleviate the problem. Knocking happens when the fuel ignites on its own. This usually happens because the engine is not properly tuned. Prolonged knocking will damage your car, but regular maintenance and tuning will keep your car running well.
Is all “premium” or “regular” gasoline the same? Grades of gasoline vary from state to state, but all filling stations across the country will display their octane ratings on bright yellow stickers. While one state may insist that premium gasoline should have a minimum octane rating of 92, another state may have an octane rating of 90 for premium grade.
See the information below for a wealth of information on high-octane gasoline:
WiseGeek.com High Octane Fuel: Complete information and discussion about high-octane fuel.
USA Today On Premium vs. Regular Gas: Information that reveals the pros and cons of premium gas. Includes relevant quotes from different car manufacturers.
Consumer Tips and Reports? The Truth About High Octane Gas: Information you need to know about high octane gasoline.
Donate a car: Not happy with the performance of your vehicle? When you decide to buy a more efficient automobile, consider a car donation to help your favorite charity. Many charities also accept boat donations – a few accept RV and motorhome donations as well.
If you feel that the information about the octane rating that you get at the filling stations is inaccurate, or the yellow stickers are not prominently displayed, then you can contact the act the Consumer Response Center of the Federal Trade Commission.