Premium Fuel vs. Regular
Which type of fuel is best for your car? Premium or regular?
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: September 27th, 2012
Simply put, it's OK to use a higher grade than recommended, but not necessary, while it's not a wise idea to pinch pennies by going to a lower grade, no matter how tempting it is.
ith gas prices showing no signs of going down anytime soon, many drivers are looking for ways to cut costs at the pump. One way to do so is by not overspending on premium fuel.
There's no reason to spend money on premium fuel if you don't need to. If your car requires only regular or mid-grade gas, paying for premium won't give your car any extra performance benefits (except in certain cases, as we'll see). It won't harm it, either, but it will dent your wallet. Oil companies are profitable enough, there's no reason to give them extra money.
Where it gets tricky is if your owner's manual says the car is required to run on premium fuel. If you opt to not use premium fuel, you run the risk of knocking or pinging, which signifies uneven combustion inside your engine. However, some cars have engine control computers that are able to adjust to the lower-grade gas, thus preventing the knocking. Still, knocking isn't totally preventable, since the engine control computer can only compensate so much, and it won't be able to fully adjust for heavy engine loads. Given that knocking can cause long-term damage and that the computer can't always compensate for the lower-grade gas, we'd buck up and pay for the premium.
It gets even trickier with cars where premium is recommended but not required. In those cases, using premium will earn you extra performance but it's not necessary to avoid knocking. If it were up to us in this case, we'd only shell out for the premium in rare circumstances.
Simply put, it's OK to use a higher grade than recommended, but not necessary, while it's not a wise idea to pinch pennies by going to a lower grade, no matter how tempting it is. Even if you manage to avoid long-term damage, pinging or knocking will hamper the efficiency of your engine, thus defeating the purpose of saving money in the first place.
We know, we know: gas costs an arm and a leg and then some. We hate paying for it, too. But we've also learned not to be penny wise and pound foolish, so we'll pony up from premium when we have to.
Fortunately, we don't have to do that often. Usually premium is only required in high-performance cars and in some forced-induction (turbocharged and supercharged cars).
Unless your owner's manual specifically says otherwise, you should be fine with regular gas.