How to Know What Fuel is Right for Your Car

Each vehicle manufacturer has different requirements for the type of fuel they would want you to use. When choosing the fuel for your vehicle, it is best to follow the guidelines that are set by the manufacturer. You can find this information in your vehicle’s owner manual, or sometimes on the gas cap door. If your manufacturer suggests that you use regular fuel, then it isn’t worth spending extra money on premium fuel.

How to Know What Fuel is Right for Your Car

Putting premium fuel into a car that does not require it could prove to be damaging for your vehicle, on top of being a waste of money. Premium fuel in a car that only requires regular could lead to a decrease in fuel mileage, as well as speed up carbon build up in the combustion chamber and/or valve train. This will only result in higher maintenance costs. Using fuel that is a higher octane than necessary may also mask a maintenance issue that is already in the engine. However, using regular fuel in a car that is designed for premium fuel would be much worse. To do so could result in reduced fuel mileage, poor performance and even engine damage. The regular fuel ignites at a lower temperature in the engine which results in engine pinging (pre-ignition). Your car’s computer will detect this through a variety of sensors and will make changes to the ignition timing- which results in decreased performance.

Many people are shocked when they learn that it isn’t only high performance sports vehicles that may require higher octane fuel. Common vehicles such as GMC, Subaru and Volkswagen often suggest the use of premium fuel.

Premium fuel used to be the only fuel that contained additives and detergents. However, most fuel retailers have them available in all fuel grades. It is best, though, to fill up somewhere that offers fuel with a Top Tier fuel rating.

In order to make sure that you are using the fuel that is best for your vehicle, follow the recommendations set for your specific vehicle model. By doing this, you can help your car perform at its best and get the better fuel mileage.

How to understand your car’s fuel recommendation:

  • When the owner’s manual suggests to use an 87 octane gasoline, it is suggesting a regular fuel. You will find no advantage in using a mid-grade or premium fuel.
  • Always buy the good stuff if your manual says, “premium fuel required.” No regular and no mid-grade.
  • If the manual says “premium fuel recommended” then you have some flexibility. Your car will operate safely using regular or mid-grade fuel, but would probably get better performance from premium. If this is your vehicle, to determine what you find best for your car, track your fuel economy on the different grades. To do this, fill your tank and reset the trip odometer. Then use the full tank and refill. Divide the number of miles you drove by the number of gallons you used to refill and you will be able to determine your miles-per-gallon (MPG).

If you have any questions about your vehicles performance, we invite you to give us a call. (631) 321-5209.

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