A Quick Guide to Using Premium Gasoline

When most drivers roll up to the gas station there is usually no question as to which type of gasoline they will use. The least expensive gasoline seems like the best option right? The answer is not always. Depending on the vehicle and other factors, premium gasoline may be a necessary expense that will save money in the long run. This being said, in most cases the extra expense outweighs whatever positive is produced.

Premium unleaded gasoline is generally a few octane point higher than its regular counterpart. This octane count refers to the carbon chains that make up the gasoline—a higher octane count means the gasoline burns more intensely and efficiently, producing the same amount of energy with slightly less waste.

This difference in the way premium fuel burns can have a significant impact on high-performance engines, such as those found in luxury sports cars. Since the engine is fine-tuned to premium gasoline, slower-burning fuels will cause a phenomenon commonly known as engine knocking. This takes place when the engine spark plugs are out of sync with fuel in the cylinders. Fuel efficiency decreases significantly and combustion at the wrong time can irreparably damage the engine.

This being said, the only vehicles prone to this situation are those for which the manufacturer has directly stated that premium gas is a necessity. The type of gasoline recommended for any vehicle will be found in the owner’s manual. Otherwise, most every car engine on the road in Libertyville is quite safe to use with regular unleaded gasoline, such as a Subaru Impreza.

Recent technological advancements also allow engines to monitor engine knocking using a computer, and to make the proper correction if necessary. This increases fuel economy for drivers. However, if money is not an issue premium gasoline is a slightly better option for the environment and the extra expense will lead to a smaller carbon footprint.

Where fuel efficiency is less of a concern, big spenders will often invest large sums of money for the sake of high vehicle performance to maximize acceleration rate, top speed, and overall control. In this instance, premium gasoline is recommended.

High octane levels will not damage the engine of most standard vehicles like the Subaru Impreza. Worst case scenario, the added fuel efficiency in a less efficient engine will cancel out for negligeable gains and a higher bill at the pump.

There is a great deal of vague information about the cleaning properties of high-quality gasoline. Many oil companies have invested a great deal in convincing people to buy the more expensive option. Studies have shown that while premium gasoline may burn slightly cleaner, the difference is not very significant. Comparing two engines using different types of fuel, the regular engine may need adjustment slightly sooner, but this type of regular vehicle maintenance is necessary anyway. The premium engine may also require a tune-up at the same time for many other reasons.

Thus, unless the owner’s manual states otherwise, regular gasoline is usually the way to go.

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