Does the Type of Gasoline I Put in my Auto Mean Much?

When you pull up to the pump, it’s easy to wonder what benefits might await you if you pay a little extra for higher octane fuel. Does it really help your car or even prevent or postpone service and maintenance?

The answer is no. Most modern cars are designed to run on economy grade fuel. If you pick high-octane fuel at the gas station, you’re only draining money from your wallet. In general, high-octane fuel doesn’t contain any added benefits and it’s unnecessary.

What does high-octane fuel do? Many drivers who own sports cars or luxury vehicles report that fuel with a higher octane increases their car’s performance. However, this increase in capability is attributed to the additives in high-octane fuel, not the fuel itself.

The main purpose of fuel with higher octane is to prevent the knocking or pinging sound sometimes heard in an engine. The knocking sound is a result of an occasional and sudden ignition in an automobile engine, a mishap that can damage a vehicle.


Gasoline and diesel don’t play nicely together. You could stall the engine and need to be towed. Then, you’ll have to pay the high costs of flushing the system of gas. Diesel is thick and oily compared to gas, and gasoline engines are different in important ways. First, diesel engines don’t have spark plugs. Instead, the fuel is ignited by the heat of compressed air, which is injected directly into the combustion chamber. With gas engines, fuel and air are mixed first and then the spark plugs do their work.

Which Should I Be Using?

There are not any detergent benefits, and expensive gasoline usually doesn’t mean a longer-lasting engine. It’s a false idea furthered by the oil industry. Check the owner’s manual. If premium is ever going to be helpful, it will say so. Don’t give the oil companies more profit!

When engines aren’t created for premium gas, they will not ever have a use for the higher-octane fuel. It is all about combustion. Premium gasoline ignites at a higher temperature, so it can withstand higher compression before reigniting. It also has less heptanes, which also makes it less likely to ignite at low temperatures. Even the government regulators agree – there’s no reason for it in the average tank.

If your owner’s manual does call for premium gasoline, you may not always want it. This is particularly true for anything built since 1996 because your engine will make up the difference. With higher-performance engines that are intended to use premium gasoline, the low-temperature can mean better performance. The premium fuel also prevents knocking or pinging noises. However, unless you’re pushing your engine to the max, the difference in engine performance is minor but the price is much higher. If your engine is knocking with normal use, it’s a different story. For these vehicles, do a little more research or talk to one of our ACE-certified technicians about using the right gasoline.


If you have questions about how to fill your gas tank or if you’re having any issues at all with your fuel system, give our trusted auto experts a call. We can help with everything from checking out automobiles you’re considering for purchase to maintenance-related spark plug tune-ups or even diagnosis and repair of bigger problems.