Have you ever wondered, “is higher octane fuel better for your engine?” The short answer is no. Higher octane fuel doesn't have to do anything with the engine's performance. It also does not remove any deposits or clean the engine.
Fuel is one of the most important fluids that go into your vehicle. Not only does it impacts you your budget and the annual automotive bill, but also, in some scenarios, it might have a significant impact on the way your vehicle performs.
Choosing the right fuel type is extremely important for every driver. However, there are many myths that people have been following for a long time and never pay attention that they're inaccurate. For example, some people still think that the higher the octane level, the better the fuel. However, is that even correct?
This article provides you with all you need to know about “is higher octane fuel better for your engine?” It walks you through the different octane levels, the significant difference between each octane grade, and whether it impacts your vehicle's performance. So, let's see if it's worth investing in a higher-octane level fuel than what your vehicle needs.
What is the octane fuel level?
Before we dig into the details about “is higher octane fuel better for your engine,” we must have a good understanding of the octane rating and what exactly it means.
Have you ever been to the gas station and realized that there are different numbers on the gas pumps? Naturally, the first thing that came into mind was that the higher the number, the higher the quality. Unfortunately, however, that's not the case.
What you see on the fuel pump is known as the octane rating, which represents a specific rating related to how this fuel is designed to prevent engine knocking and other rattling problems.
There are three different types of octane ratings or grades that you might see in every gas station. The lowest rating, which is typically 87, represents the regular fuel, the midgrade fuel typically has an 89-octane rating, and the premium fuel typically has a much higher rating of 92.
You'll see these numbers printed right close to the nozzle of each type of fuel.
Note that some areas in Europe might have different octane rating grouping. However, you should know that there is the lowest, middle, and highest-octane rating in every gas station.
Is higher octane fuel better for your engine?
Now you have a good understanding that there are different types of octane ratings; the question that many of our readers ask us is, “is higher octane fuel better for your engine?”
The short answer to this question is no. As we highlighted before, command octane rating doesn't improve your engine's performance. Typically, the octane rating has to do with preventing engine knocking or rattling from happening.
There is a very common myth that the higher-octane level, the higher the fuel quality. However, that's not the case. Some people think that choosing a premium fuel will achieve better engine performance, and no more dirt or deposits will be built up in the engine.
That's why most automotive experts recommend never to go higher in the octane rating level if your vehicle doesn't need it. Instead, you need to follow what's recommended in your vehicle's owner’s manual and get an idea about what exactly is required. Going higher than what's recommended in your manual is not worth it because it means that your vehicle doesn't need it.
However, there are some situations where if you're driving an older car, your mechanic might ask you to use a higher-octane rating level because of some problems related to engine knocking or rattling noises that are happening in your old engine.
Can high octane fuel damage an engine?
While it might sound that the higher-octane level, the better it is for your vehicle, it might be the total opposite. For example, did you know that if you chose a very high-octane level for the wrong engine, you could deal with significant damages that could cost you the entire engine?
Unfortunately, many people might fall for this issue by investing more in purchasing premium fuel. When you choose a very high fuel, you achieve a higher resistance leading to faster ignition. Since your vehicle is designed in a certain way expecting the right ignition at the right time, dealing with faster ignition might cause significant problems.
Therefore, it's recommended that you check with your vehicle owner’s manual and get an exact number about the recommended octane level. You don't want to go lower or higher than what's asked by your manual.
Does premium gas make your engine run better?
It depends. As you might already know, the premium fuel is the most expensive one, but does it provide you with the highest quality and makes your engine run better? Not all the time.
If your vehicle owner’s manual requests using the highest-octane level, choosing a premium fuel will definitely make a big difference and the way your engine performs.
On the other hand, if your vehicle owner’s manual does not ask to choose the highest-octane level, you should not do so because you might deal with negative consequences, as we have added in the section before.
What happens if you use higher octane fuel?
In the short term, nothing. In other words, if you just used a higher-octane fuel than what you used to use before, then you won't see any difference. However, down the road, if you continuously use the higher-octane fuel, you might deal with some negative consequences.
If your engine has some issues with rattling or knocking or what's known as mistiming combustion, then switching to higher octane level might be one of the common recommendations by most experienced mechanics.
What octane should I put in my car?
Whatever is specified near the vehicle's owner’s manual. There is no accurate number or octane grading that you should put all the time. We highly encourage you to go through your vehicle's owner’s manual and read on to find the recommended octane level.
Some drivers might find it a bit overwhelming to read through the manual. Therefore, you might want to do some research about your vehicle's specific type and search what's recommended in terms of the octane level.
For example, if you did a quick Google search for the octane level. For instance, in Honda vehicles, you'll find detailed answers. For instance, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Honda CRV are always associated with an 87 octane level based on the vehicle's manual.
How to choose high-quality fuel?
Since octane level doesn't have to do anything with improving your engine's performance, one might wonder how you can find a better-quality fuel, if any?
The good news is that you can achieve very high-quality fuels by researching what components and additives were added to their fuel. Every fuel company utilized certain additives to enhance sentence performance and prevent carbon buildups. Therefore, the higher the quality is typically associated with, the better the additives and the better the engine in response to these additives.
Did you know that certain gas stations provide higher quality gas and fuel than others? Yes! Let's take a closer look at the top five gas stations in 2022:
You've probably been in one of the very common gas stations around the US from the shell. Shell has been in business for more than 100 years now, and they're known for providing the top and highest quality fuel in the nation.
The biggest benefit of choosing shell’s fuel is the nitrogen-enriched formula they're using. It enhances the engine's performance and prevents any carbon buildup soon.
Mobil is the second-ranked best gas station in the nation as of 2022. There are plenty of branches around the nation, and it's been in business for decades since the 1980s, and it's one of the top gas stations in the nation.
The main secret recipe about Mobil gas stations is nine unique additives that enhance the engine's performance, prevent corrosion, and eliminate any friction.
Did you know that our station is the third-best gas station in the nation as of 2022? Costco has been in business since 1995, which is not very long compared to the other stations, but it's been ranked continuously in the top.
The biggest benefit of all choosing Costco gas stations is price. According to recent statistics, buying gasoline from Costco should cost you at least $0.21 per gallon less than the other gas stations.
Sinclair Has been in business since 19, not 16, and it's also ranked as one of the top gas stations in the nation. There are about 1300 stations around the nation for the same brand, and they typically get the best customers reviews.
This gas station utilized a specific recipe of additives to improve the engine's performance, optimize fuel economy, lower the annual maintenance costs, and prevent engine deposits.
Alaska station has been in business since a very long time ago of about 1879. You've probably seen this gas station in many commercials considering the popularity.
They typically mix a list of additives to the fuel to enhance the engine's performance, prevent carbon buildups, clean the engine, and reduce breakdowns.
How to save on gas at the pump?
Although looking for the highest quality fuel is extremely important, it is also worth investigating ways to improve and save on gas. Sometimes saving a couple of cents helps you save a ton if you think about it long term.
There are plenty of recommendations by automotive experts on how to save on gas at the pump, including:
- Use apps that provide you with locations of cheap gas
- Do not get stuck with the premium octane level if your vehicle doesn't need it
- Consider joining a fuel reward program
- Check out the rewards credit cards
- Check if the gas station provides cost reductions if you pay in cash
- Purchase discounted gift cards
- Keep an eye on the changing gas prices around you
- Plan your trips and eliminate shorter trips as much as possible
- Consider shared rights to save on fuel
- Eliminate idling as much as possible and turn off the vehicle if needed
- Do not accelerate harshly
- Consider the cruise control but not on slippery roads
- Turn off unnecessary elements like the air conditioning or the heater if it's not needed
- Slow down gradually and do not hit the brakes fast
Is higher octane fuel better for your engine? Final thoughts
The octane level is the first number you'll notice whenever you get into the gas station, and one of the very common questions that we continuously receive is, “is higher octane fuel better for your engine?”
As we highlighted in this article, the higher the octane level, the higher your engine performance. In other words, you must follow with specified in your vehicle's owner’s manual and never go higher in the octane level, hoping for improving your vehicle's performance.
While following the right octane level as recommended in your manual is extremely important, sometimes your vehicle might have significant issues that choosing the right fuel might not make a difference. In other words, comma if your vehicle has significant mechanical or electrical problems, it might be the right time now to sell it and buy a vehicle that is worth investing in the right fuel.
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