As you drive around York, Pennsylvania, in your Honda SUV, sedan, or truck, you have probably noticed that at almost every fuel pump, you can choose between regular or premium gasoline. Premium gasoline usually costs more, and you might think that it will make your car run better, cleaner, and more efficiently.

Sadly, this is not the case for most cars, and the advantages are slight, even for those that benefit from premium fuel. You can put it in your vehicle — it will not hurt anything — but for most cars on the road, unless the manufacturer explicitly recommends premium gasoline, it is an unnecessary expense. Read below as our team here at Apple Honda of York discusses the details of premium gas to ensure you use the proper fuel to help your vehicle perform at its best.

What Does Premium Gas Do?

Fuel pump inserted into a red 2023 Honda HR-V in York, PA
To determine whether your car needs premium gasoline, let us first find out what it is. Essentially, premium gas is high-octane gasoline. The octane rating measures how much the fuel can compress before it spontaneously combusts. Higher-octane gasoline means that the fuel is more compatible with higher compression rates and has a higher combustion temperature, meaning that the gasoline is less likely to detonate without a spark.

This octane rating is the key difference between premium and regular gasoline. High-octane gasoline has an octane rating of 91 to 94, compared with an octane rating of 87 to 89 for regular gas, although these figures can vary from state to state and station to station.

One benefit of premium gasoline is that it has a higher resistance to engine knock. Engine knock develops when the combustion process does not occur at the optimum moment for the engine cycle. In normal circumstances, combustion occurs at the exact moment a spark generates from the spark plug.

If the peak of the explosions in the engine happens at the wrong moment, you will hear a metallic pinging or knocking sound, and the pressure in the cylinder will increase. Although some engines can function with this issue without much harm, it can cause serious damage in some cases, leading to expensive engine repairs.

Engine knock is a particular problem in luxury or high-compression engines. The higher the compression level, the more likely the gasoline will combust without a spark. Cars with turbochargers may benefit from premium gas because they squeeze better performance margins from slight differences in combustion times and function at a higher pressure than standard engines. For most cars, engine knock is not an issue, as vehicles now have computerized devices to help prevent it, so you will most likely not experience it.

Premium gas is not necessary for most cars. For some vehicles, it may improve power because it means that the engine functions slightly more efficiently, with better gas mileage, but this only applies to 18% of all cars on the road.

You might consider premium gas if you have a heavy load or are towing something, as it may give your vehicle more power. But it will not translate into savings at the pump because fuel costs are much higher per gallon for premium gasoline than regular. Overall, the increase in cost is much more than what you may save in any marginal efficiency gains.

What Does Premium Gas Not Do?

Some may suggest that premium gas is more fuel efficient and is, therefore, a cost-effective option, which might be true in some engines. Reports show some marginal gains, but generally, it is a myth. The engine size of your vehicle determines the fuel efficiency level, and the fuel consumption of the engine will remain consistent regardless of the gasoline. It will not reduce the number of visits to the gas station more than regular gas, as most engines do not take advantage of premium gasoline.

Carbon build-up can significantly affect the performance of the engine. All fuel types can cause this if you ignore routine checks. Some have thought that premium gas is a way to clean the engine because it is high performance. Both premium and regular gas contain detergents that are active in reducing the carbon deposits in the engine. The detergents in premium gas may be more powerful, but the effect on the cleanliness of the engine is likely to be minimal. It is best to rely on a professional mechanic and regular servicing to keep the engine clean.

Should You Use Premium Gas?

The advantages of premium gas are slight for most cars. If you are not using the car for an extended time, premium gas is a better option in the tank because it deteriorates more slowly, but for most other cars, it has no benefit.

Premium gasoline might have slightly better detergents. But the price difference is quite substantial, and it is unlikely that you will see a significant difference. However, there are cheaper alternatives, such as Top Tier gasoline, which has more detergents and other chemicals to help keep down the engine deposits at a much lower price than premium gasoline.

For most car owners, premium gasoline is unnecessary, as regular car engines do not gain significant advantages from using it. Some high-performance cars do run better with it. You can check if the manufacturer recommends premium gas for your vehicle make and model. If so, then you should use it. For all other cars, it is not necessary, as most cars, trucks, and SUVs run on regular gasoline.

Even if you occasionally fill your premium car with regular gasoline, there should not be any damage to the engine. But keep in mind that over $2 billion of annual premium gasoline sales are for cars that will obtain no discernible benefit. If in doubt, you can always ask the manufacturer or dealer. At Apple Honda in York, Pennsylvania, we are always ready to answer any questions.

Image by Dawn McDonald is licensed with Unsplash License

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