Many motorists believe that if they shell out for higher-octane fuels, they will be rewarded with increased engine power, performance and fuel efficiency. But does it really pay to fill your gas tank up with ‘super’ unleaded 93-octane fuel?
Fact vs. Myth
The fact is, the difference in gasoline octane levels has nothing to do with the stored energy in the fuel. Octane ratings pertain only to the pre-ignition (ping) caused by modern high compression motors. Using higher-octane fuel than indicated will add nothing to your vehicle’s performance or its gas mileage. It won’t make it run any smoother either.
However, if you use low octane fuel in an engine that requires premium unleaded, you will significantly increase the risk of serious engine damage and lower performance.
While higher-octane fuels contain anti-knock compounds designed to lower fuel temperature during combustion, knocking —improper timing of the internal engine explosions that drive your pistons down to generate horsepower — is rarely an issue in most motors, due to low compression ratios. This is another reason why it will not improve performance to run standard engines on premium unleaded. Such motors are unable to capitalize on the greater knock resistance of high-octane fuel.
Filling your tank with higher octane gasoline than indicated will not only cost you more money at the pump, it could actually lead to difficulty starting your vehicle up on colder days, as well as result in inconsistent idle and low-end drivability. You would do well to heed your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended fuel octane rating!
Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance
What are the three most important things to remember for a long-lasting engine? Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. You should have your fuel system regularly checked and serviced for maximum longevity and performance.