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What is the best fuel for your car?

A guide to the different types of gas at the pump

When you pull up to most gas stations these days, you’re likely to see at least three different types of gas at the pump. Are the more expensive options better for your car? Are the cheaper ones worse? In reality, it’s not quite that simple. Let’s learn a little more about the various types of gas you can expect to find at the pump.

The three types of gas

Unless your car drives on alternative fuel (more on these later), you’ll typically see three types of gas at your local gas station. They’re distinguished by their octane rating, which serves as a measure of a fuel’s stability. The higher the octane rating, the greater the pressure the fuel can withstand. The three types of gas are:


Regular gas has the lowest octane rating, typically coming in at 87. This is the standard fuel for most cars.


Sometimes referred to as “plus” or “special,” mid-grade tends to be somewhere in the 89 to 90 octane range.


Premium gasoline, sometimes called “ultra” or “super,” usually features an octane rating of 91 to 94. Premium gas is intended for high-performance cars.

There are some varieties of gasoline that feature additives to boost engine life. This is a specific fuel designation that’s unrelated to the octane ratings used to designate gas as “premium.”

Leaded vs. unleaded

You may have seen the term “unleaded” gasoline in some places, and possibly wondered if there’s a leaded counterpart. The short answer is yes, but it’s no longer available for regular use.

In the past, leaded gasoline was the primary gas sold at fuel pumps nationwide. It featured an additive known as tetraethyl lead (TEL), which boosted octane ratings and lowered wear on certain engine parts. However, TEL was eventually linked to health and environmental issues, and leaded gasoline has since been phased out.

Other common gas types

Many gas stations offer alternatives to gasoline. Some of the most common alternative fuels you’re likely to see are:


Diesel fuel is strictly for use in vehicles that have diesel engines. Diesel engines are structured differently than standard gas engines and are often used in heavy-duty vehicles.


Flex-fuel is an ethanol-based fuel featuring a mixture of 85% plant-based ethanol and 15% gasoline, sometimes referred to as “E85.” Ethanol comes from renewable resources like corn.

How to find out which type of fuel your car needs

When trying to figure out which type of fuel to use for your car, it’s generally important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. This information is typically found in the owner’s manual, and you may be able to find it via the manufacturer’s website. Cars that require premium fuel often feature additional indications near the fuel cap or by the fuel gauge in your dashboard.

What happens if you fill up with the wrong fuel?

Manufacturers typically specify what kind of fuel your car needs for a reason. Putting the wrong kind of fuel in your car could even lead to an expensive trip to the repair shop. Here’s an overview of some of the most common scenarios to watch out for:

Premium gas in a regular engine

It’s tempting to think that using premium gas is like eating a healthier diet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that for cars. Premium gasoline won’t produce any performance benefits in a regular engine — it’ll just cost you more to fill up.

Regular gas in a high-octane engine

Cars that ask for high-octane fuels have engines that were designed for that fuel. While these engines will technically still run on a lower-octane gas, the decreased fuel quality may cause engine knocking and loss of performance, and damage the engine over time.

Can you mix gas types?

Putting different kinds of fuel into a standard gas engine may have serious consequences. Ethanol, diesel and gas engines differ in design, and using the wrong fuel type or mixing different fuels could lead to an engine shutdown. The car would then require a technician to evacuate the entire fuel system to remove any traces of the offending fuel.

In summary

As you can see, the different types of gas found at the pump are meant for different purposes. Putting the wrong types of gas in your car might lead to a hefty repair bill, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

This article is for educational purposes only and provides general auto information. The material is not intended to provide legal, tax, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. product or service. Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results. Chase is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third party products, services or other content. For specific advice about your circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

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What is the best fuel for your car?

Advantages and disadvantages of high octane fuel

14 Jun Advantages and Disadvantages of High Octane Fuel

Posted at 13:01h in Blogs by Shubham

You’ve probably seen your friends use high-octane fuel. They’ve probably suggested you do so because it will increase your car’s performance, speed, and other aspects. Even though this isn’t true, at least you’ve heard of high-octane fuel. When you’re at the gas station, you will notice there are different types of fuels, namely regular, premium, and plus. There are always different prices for these various types of fuel, but they also mean different things when it applies to vehicles. When purchasing your car, it will come recommended with the type of fuel you should use if you want your engine to last a long time.

High octane fuel is mainly used in high-performance vehicles like superchargers and turbochargers. Even though you might have heard many myths about the advantages of using high octane fuel, some are false. High octane fuel is advantageous for high-performance engines and isn’t so helpful to regular engines. Like any other fuel, high octane fuel has its advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss further in the article.

What does octane rating for car fuel mean?

Octane rating can simply be defined as a measure of how heat resistant a fuel is to prevent knocking. All these statements could sound like a mumble jumble, and that’s why we’ll explain them more in-depth. When refueling your car, it is common to see multiple fuel grades that you can choose from, like regular, plus, and premium. The difference between these fuel grades is their octane rating. The most common myth is that a higher octane fuel will give your car more power or better mileage, but that’s not exactly what that means.

For gasoline-powered cars to work, air and fuel mix at carefully timed intervals with a spark plug to bring about ignition. Your car’s engine compresses a cylinder full of air and gas into a minimal volume before igniting it with a spark plug. Various engines have varying compression ratios. Compression often creates immense heat, and fuels have to withstand tremendous heat; otherwise, it can result in a premature misfire. The action of air-fuel mixture combusting spontaneously instead of from the spark plug is known as “knocking.” Knocking is also the sound it produces in this action. An octane rating simply refers to measuring how heat-resistant a fuel is to prevent knocking. The purpose of octane isn’t to enhance combustion but rather to prevent the “air-fuel” mixture from igniting inside the engine prematurely.

So, the higher your fuel’s octane is, the more resistant your engine is to knocking. If you hear knocking, you’re likely using the wrong octane for your car. The octane rating varies from car to car. You can check your vehicle’s manual or ask a professional for your car’s octane rating. The octane rating is critical because if your car keeps knocking, it will cause serious damage. Certain vehicles require a higher octane rating because they have supercharged or turbocharged engines, which create higher compression levels.

Does higher octane gas make a difference?

As mentioned above, a higher octane rating is more of an anti-knock index. This means that higher octane gas doesn’t change the energy content of a gallon of gasoline. A higher octane rating means that your engine is more resistant to knocking. So, buying it will be a waste of money unless your engine requires a higher octane gas. You’ll find that premium gas is often 15-20 cents higher per gallon than regular gas. Before buying higher octane gas, ensure that your car needs it and that you aren’t buying it because you think it will advance your car’s performance.

Studies indicate that most drivers spend lots of money, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars on “premium” gas that they don’t need. Simply put, higher octane gas won’t lead to better car performance, more speed, better mileage, or your car running cleaner. Most cars require regular gasoline, and using higher octane means wasting your coins. You will only need to switch up to a higher octane gas if your car starts knocking (which is quite rare), and you’ve been using the recommended fuel. If you think your vehicle will have more benefit from higher-octane gas, you should know that technically, lower-octane gas has more energy compared to high-octane gas. Premium gas doesn’t necessarily mean “stronger” gas.

What does higher octane gas do for your car?

A higher octane gas allows your engine to have a higher compression ratio. With higher octane gas, your car will have a more advanced ignition timing or forced air inductions. Most superchargers and turbochargers are the ones that need higher octane gas. These engines perform better when on premium gas. When buying your car, you will see the recommended octane rating for your vehicle. You should always follow the octane rating on that. Purchasing a higher octane rating gas won’t do anything for your car.

On the other hand, using a lower octane rating than what is recommended by your manufacturer could cause damage to your car’s engine. Lower-octane fuel will result in knocking and prevent your vehicle from meeting its stated fuel economy. If you keep using lower-octane fuel for a prolonged period, you will have a damaged engine and emission control system. But if you use a higher-octane gas than your car needs, it won’t do any harm, nor will it benefit your car.

What happens if you put 93 gas instead of 87?

Let’s say you fill up your car with the wrong fuel and wonder what harm you’ve done. There could be some harm or none, depending on your car’s octane rating. If your engine requires an 87 and you fill it up with a 93, then there’s no harm done. You can go on your merry way without being anxious. This also means that there are no benefits either. Just because you used a higher-octane gas doesn’t mean your car’s performance will improve either. So, if possible, it’s better to save your money in this case.

Let’s say your manufacturer recommends you use 93 and fill it up with 87; now, you’ll have a problem. If you do this often, you may hear your engine knocking and valve chatter because the fuel won’t burn right. Both of these actions mean that your engine will endure damage, and you’ll need a mechanic visit. So, it is best to stick to premium gas for premium users. But if you can’t find premium gas in your area, then you can use regular gas instead. Modern cars have an inbuilt engine computer that will prevent knock and engine damage in the long run. It is not advisable to use regular gas frequently; only use it when you have no other options left.

Advantages and disadvantages of High Octane Fuel

If you have a high-performance vehicle, you will most likely see the advantages and disadvantages of using high-octane fuel.

Advantages of high octane fuel

High octane fuel has many advantages to the consumer, manufacturer, and even the fuel vendor. These advantages include:

Increased torque in performance applications

High-performance vehicles have been proven to work better when fed with high octane fuel. High-performance vehicles include motorsports and heavy machinery transporters. Manufacturers always develop or create cars that perform better than those previously produced. Combining premium fuel and advanced engine technology becomes a win-win for the manufacturer and the consumer.

Greenhouse gas reductions

When you’re a prominent manufacturer, you have to pay taxes for greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicles manufactured using high-octane fuel have lower emissions than those of lower octane vehicles. This means that manufacturers of these vehicles will get charged fewer taxes. When a gas produces less greenhouse gas, it’s better for the environment because it causes lower air pollution. If you love being aware of your impact on the environment, then using a high-octane rating vehicle is a good call.

It prevents the engine from knocking.

If your engine starts knocking, it means that you’re using a lower-octane fuel compared to what your manufacturer suggested. In this case, you will need to resort to a high octane fuel. When you start using high-octane fuel, in this case, the engine will recognize the high-octane fuel and change the ignition timings automatically. When your engine knocks, it could often result in serious car problems that cost you thousands of dollars. So, instead of risking it, it’s better to use high-octane fuel on a high-performance vehicle. Otherwise, the vehicle’s performance and engine’s power output will be affected too.

Disadvantages of high-octane fuel

Even though high-octane fuel has many advantages to high-performance vehicles, it doesn’t come without disadvantages.


High-octane fuel tends to have a few bucks per gallon over regular gas. When looking to fill up your car, you will notice that the change adds to a significant amount. Now, let’s say you need to use high-octane gas because it’s a requirement for your car; well then, you’re in hot soup. The prices are always higher and a little challenging to keep up with not unless the vehicle is for commercial use.

Final thoughts

The use of high octane fuel varies depending on your engine, and most regular engines do not need it. But it is important to note that an engine’s octane rating can change over time. The more an engine ages, the more it accumulates deposits inside the combustion chamber. These deposits eventually reduce the cylinder’s volume, raising the engine’s combustion ratio. As a result, it is quite common to find engines that ping as they age, even though they never pinged or knocked when they were still new. If the ping becomes regular and more noticeable, you may need to buy a higher-octane fuel to control it. In some cases, ping or knock can result in severe engine damage. You should check your owner’s manual for advice or consult a dealer to see how much ping is acceptable for your car, especially when it gets older.

What is the best fuel for your car?

Choosing The Right Fuel Octane For Your Vehicle

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fuel octane

If you’re like a lot of drivers, you’ve wondered whether putting higher octane fuel in your vehicle will prolong its life. While it’s something we encounter a few times each month, fuel octane remains difficult to understand for many people. As such, we’re going to dedicate today’s post to talking about how to choose the right fuel octane for your vehicle and why it matters.

What Does the “Octane” Rating Mean?

Octane rating measures the fuel’s resistance to “knocking” during combustion, which is caused by the mixture of fuel and air exploding too early in the engine. When you pull up to the pump, you can see the octane rating written behind each respective pump. Here in the United States, the standard unleaded gasoline typically has an octane rating of 87. Midgrade, on the other hand, generally has an octane rating of between 88-90 while premium will have an octane rating of 91-94.

What Should I Use in my Vehicle?

Deciding which octane fuel to use in your car can be difficult. Most experts recommend a smart way to make it simple: follow the directions set forth by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If your owner’s manual says your vehicle is designed to run on 87 octane fuel, you’re best to select standard unleaded gasoline. If you have a high-performance engine designed to run on higher octane fuel, however, you might be better off selecting premium.

Does “Treating” My Car to Higher Octane Help It Perform Better?

Most people believe higher octane fuel will help their vehicle run better or longer. Is that true, though? In the words of the Car Talk Brothers, “No. Higher octane provides no additional performance for vehicles that are designed to run on regular gas.”

That said, however, vehicles designed to run on premium fuel may get a power boost when you fill them with a higher-octane variety. Even these cars, however, can afford to run on regular unleaded most of the time.

Does Higher Octane Fuel ‘Clean’ the Engine?

While higher octane fuel won’t clean your engine, it may have better additives (or fewer additives) than gas with a lower fuel octane. This, in turn, can help keep your engine cleaner and maintain its long-term performance more efficiently.

Fuel Octane, Made Simple

Although fuel octane can seem confusing, it doesn’t have to be. Just as long as you’re using the octane recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, your engine should continue running efficiently. This is especially true since most modern engines have sensors built in that help them resist “pinging,” regardless of which fuel octane they’re using.

For a selection of products that can help your engine stay in tip-top shape, visit Berryman Products today. Your source for all your car care needs, we’re here to help you get on the road and stay there.

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