Although every one that drives a car knows that premium gas is better for a car than regular gas, a lot of people decide to use lower-octane gas because it’s cheaper, even if it is recommended by the manufacturer to use premium fuel.
Car engines that require premium gas can be damaged if regular gas is used instead. The overall performance of the car can suffer and the fuel efficiency can be affected, too. If you are using standard gas and you decide to upgrade to premium, that may not be always the smartest thing to do. Actually, it could even harm both your car and the environment, since more unburned gas will get into the emissions system.
Cars that use regular fuel but are filled with so-called cleaner premium gas could be harming the environment, according to the majority of environmental researchers. On the other hand, the big players in the gas industry are convinced that they sell a premium fuel that can improve engine performance and lower emissions with a 15 per cent emission reduction.
The bottom line is that 10% of the energy a car uses in its lifetime is expended during its production, so the greenest decision is often the one that keeps your vehicle on the road for as long as possible.
When speaking about the car itself, especially the older cars, where using regular gas in engines that are meant for high-octane gas could lead to engine knocking, which occurs when the temperature and the pressure of the air-and-fuel mixture increases rapidly, and that leads to an explosion. That means that the fuel has started to burn sooner than it actually should have, and that is called a self-ignition. That’s when you hear knocking or pinging sounds coming from the engine area.
These issues can cause some serious damage to the vehicle engine – the pistons and the cylinder heads can get punctured.
These older cars didn’t have electronic systems that adjust the ignition timing. Such systems exist today and they can prevent knocking by retarding the timing. Almost all vehicles made in the US and Europe have these systems which include sensors that can detect vibration in engines and a controller regulates the timing.
On top of these issues with the engine, low-quality gas reduces fuel-efficiency, too. Premium fuel has certain additives which clean the engine and prevent forming of engine deposits. That helps the engine run more smoothly and burn less fuel. A number of studies have shown that the money you will save by buying cheaper fuel isn’t worth it and you will get far more miles per gallon on high-octane fuel than on lower grade gasoline.
Finally, Its up to the owner to asses the risk and decide on the gas type in the specific context.
By Jordan Perch
Jordan Perch is a blogger who is an active promoter of the new developments in the automotive industry. He is an author of many how-to articles related to the DMV, car reviews, automotive trends, and useful tips for drivers. He is currently managing the blog of the resourceful DMV.com.