Will Putting Premium Gas in my Car Make it Run Better (and Save me Money)?

It’s habit now. Slide my card, punch the Unleaded button, then daydream until my gas is done. When I first started punching gas buttons, I always was tempted to hit the “Supreme” unleaded button.

In my head I thought, “Supreme, wow, maybe I’ll be able to go as fast as those Fast and Furious guys in the movie….” It was a fun thought. Now, looking back, I realized I never looked up if it would be helpful, so I’ve done the digging for you and can reveal the answer!

Maybe ‘91’ will save you hundreds later?

I know you’ve been wondering too. I actually have never heard anyone say “I put Premium gas in my car.” It’s not some badge of honor. Many people think it’s for “suckers.” The question still remains: Will my car run better on Premium gas rather than Unleaded.”

My favorite site for car-buying and advice is Kelley Blue Book. Everytime I buy a car, I immediately go to KBB to get the value of my current car, and it’s pretty close. (Highly recommend).

They had a recent article answering this question, point blank and it dispelled the myth:

An occasional tank of premium may help an engine in ways.

An engine’s design, which includes such factors as its combustion ratio and its operating temperature, is related to something called an octane rating. Usually, we think of an octane rating as something that applies only to gasoline, but the engine itself has such a rating that represents the minimum octane level that the engine requires for proper operation.

An engine needs a minimum level of octane to avoid ping, which is caused by uncontrolled combustion of fuel inside the cylinders. Excessive ping can severely damage the engine. The octane rating on the gasoline is a measure of its anti-knock or anti-ping properties.

If your car does not ping on regular, then there is no reason to seek a higher-octane gasoline. The anti-knock level of the regular in this case is adequate for the engine.

But as a car gets older, depending on how the car has been driven and cared for, it may need a higher-octane gasoline anytime between four and six years. That’s because carbon deposits inside the cylinders raise the combustion ratio, which in turn raises the engine’s octane rating. You may notice that your car operated fine on regular fuel when it was new, but pings on regular as it gets older. So, the higher-octane fuel is not something to pamper a new car with but rather help keep an older car running properly.

In addition, premium gasoline has some other selling points. Most premium gasolines have a higher-quality additive package put in at the refinery. The actual additives in a particular brand of gasoline are generally not disclosed by refiners. But usually they include detergents and other solvents that keep the carburetor and rest of the fuel system clean.

Pretty wild, right? I never knew this. So, next time you go get your car maintenanced, ask about the ping. Usually, you’ll be able to hear it on your own as it’s a knocking sound.

So, putting in premium every few months may actually be very helpful and avoid costly repairs. I admit, I never knew this, and, right now, (2016) , gas is pretty low, I won’t hesitate to pay a few extra bucks at the pump to save hundreds later on!

For more: Does Premium Gas help your engine — Kelley Blue Book

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