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Ask A Master Mechanic: Premium Gas In Your Regular Vehicle

At Master Mechanic, we get a lot of questions around what fuel is best to use in cars. For those motorists with cars that require regular gas, you’ve probably asked yourself if using premium gas on occasion would help it perform better.
We’ve caught up with a Master Mechanic to find out.

The Facts on Fuel

Back in the day, there was a big difference between the engine performance of cars that took premium gas and regular gas. Premium gas was recommended for cars with a higher performance engines to combat issue due to higher compression ratios. Premium gas contained additives to help these engines both perform as designed and survive hard driving. Today’s premium fuels contain additives and detergents that help clean fuel injectors and remove carbon deposits inside of engines, thus, incentivizing motorist with engines that use regular fuel to, on occasion, use premium gas to clean their engines.

Today, premium gas on can run anywhere from 20 to 50 cents more per litre than regular gas, depending on where you live. This can add up fast at the pump. While it sounds like a good idea to occasionally fill up on premium fuel, it may not yield the results you’re looking for. So, let’s discuss whether or not that costly upkeep is worth the money.

The octane rating on gas is what mostly differentiates regular gas from premium. Regular gas sits at an 87-octane rating and premium gas is 91, or higher. High octane gas helps prevent early fuel ignition which results in engine knocking that can damage your vehicle. High octane fuel is able to be heated and compressed more than regular fuel before self-combusting. This is why high-octane fuel is reserved for vehicles with high-performance engines.

What You Should Do Based on the Vehicle You Have

If you are the owner of a vehicle that calls for premium fuel, don’t think about switching to regular gas on occasion to save at the pump. Though it may be tempting in the name of cost savings, the repeated use of regular fuel could lead to engine knock and result in long-term damage to your engine. This certainly is not worth the couple bucks you’ll save while filling up.

For those vehicles that call for regular fuel, there are still many motorists that insist that the occasional use of premium fuel in their car will improve engine performance and fuel efficiency. The reality is that this is likely a placebo effect. As far as fuel efficiency goes, the difference is insignificant, so we don’t recommend filling up on premium unless you have to.

Currently, there are no significant proven results that substantiate improvement on the health of your engine or the car’s fuel efficiency if you use premium fuel. However, premium fuels in Canada do not contain ethanol, so they are a better choice if your car sits for long periods of time.

If you’re not sure which fuel to choose, starting with the owner’s manual is a great first step. Vehicles with high-performance engines require premium gas and while it may be tempting to fill up with regular fuel, consider the potential long-term damage you may be causing. After all, what’s the point of having a better car if you’re not treating it right?

Fortunately for those motorists with vehicles that require regular fuel, there is no significant proven benefit to filling up with premium gas. The quality of regular gas has improved considerably over the years thanks to emissions regulations.

Regular engines will not benefit from more expensive premium gas, but regular oil changes and service appointments are a proven way to improve fuel economy and preserve your engine.

If you have any questions about your cars fuel or would like to schedule routine maintenance, contact your local Master Mechanic today!

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