Gas myths, debunked

For some people, the promise of better fuel mileage might tempt us into buying the more expensive, higher- octane gas when filling up our vehicles. But is it really true that your car will perform better depending on the gas you use? We're going to set the record straight so that you can make good decisions when at the pump.

First and foremost, the Federal Trade Commission said in a consumer notice that, "...using a higher-octane gasoline than your owner's manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit." They go on to say that putting higher octane fuel in your tank won't make your vehicle go faster, improve the mpg, or "run cleaner". So there you go. If your vehicle's owner manual calls for 87 octane, use 87 octane. Bumping up to 92 octane will give you no added benefits other than a lighter wallet (and that's not really a benefit!)

Maybe you're on the opposite spectrum wondering what will happen if you run 87 octane in a vehicle that calls for 92 octane. Truth is, it typically won't hurt your vehicle to use regular instead of premium if you're only doing this occasionally. Engines that are high performance (like you may find in a BMW), require high octane gas because they have a higher compression rate. Use of lower grade fuel may cause a knocking sound in your engine. Most modern engines have computerized settings to maximize performance and adjust to different octane levels to prevent knocks, but to be on the safe side, use the recommended octane rating for your vehicle. The verdict here is, don't sweat it if you're running low on cash one week and need to drop to regular instead of premium (but we don't recommend making a regular habit of it!)

So far, it may appear as though higher octane gas isn't really necessary. That's not true, however. If you are towing, hauling, driving in extreme heat, or have a turbo charger on your vehicle, you should use higher octane fuel. In addition, if your vehicle's owner manual recommends premium fuel, know that the only way you'll ever achieve the vehicle's advertised horsepower and torque ratings is if you use the proper octane fuel.

When traveling, be aware that each state regulates octane ratings differently. For example, in Ohio, the minimum octane rating is 87 for regular. Mid-grade is usually 89, and premium is usually 92. However, those numbers may be different in other states. Their octane ratings may be a few points lower or higher. Keep this in mind if your owner manual calls for a specific octane rating instead of using the generic term of "premium".

To certain automakers, where you purchase your gasoline is important. The following automakers developed something called "Top Tier Standards" which are a set of guidelines and standards for fuel mixtures to provide optimum performance: BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Audi, and Volkswagen. These automakers feel that too little detergent in gasoline can lead to engine issues such as clogged fuel injectors or deposits being left on engine parts which they say can reduce engine performance. The following national retailers sell fuel that adhere to the Top Tier Standards:

  • 76
  • Conoco
  • Phillips 66
  • Chevron
  • Shell
  • Esso
  • Exxon
  • Texaco
  • Mobil
There are other fuel retailers on the Top Tier list, however, we've only shown the ones that are in the Miami Valley and immediately surrounding areas.

Now that you know a little more about fuel, go out and have a great drive! Need a new vehicle so you can enjoy your roadtrips more? Stop in at SVG Urbana; we've got tons of great vehicles to choose from!
Categories: Service