Some people use higher grade fuel in their cars for higher performance and some use lower grade fuel to cut fuel costs. Well, both are problematic, say industry experts. Using wrong fuel in your car not only affects its horsepower but also damages some important components of the fuel delivery system. Therefore, it is better to be aware of the fuel that best suits your car’s engine.
Leaded vs. unleaded fuel: Leaded fuel is banned in the U.S. and other developed countries. Though leaded gasoline has higher octane levels, because of its harmful nature it is extremely discouraged. Lead-oxide discharged from the vehicle’s exhaust will cause serious harm to the environment as well to the people who are exposed to it.
Choosing proper octane level: Coming to unleaded gasoline, selecting the right octane level plays a key role. As mentioned earlier, most people tend to go for premium grade gasoline for better engine performance. But, not every vehicle needs higher octane gasoline. You have to decide on the required level based on various factors. Before knowing the factors let’s bust a popular myth.
Myth: High octane level means high performance: The level of octane is a measure of the fuel’s anti-knocking properties. Anti-knocking, also called as pre-detonation, is a condition in which the fuel burns early in the combustion chamber due to its instability. The presence of octane makes the gasoline stable and helps prevent early self-ignition. The higher the octane, the more stable the fuel. Thus, higher octane gasoline does not have more energy potential compared to lower octane gasoline.
Now that you are clear that higher octane level does not make any difference, let us see how to choose gasoline with proper octane level.
Check user’s manual: This is the primary guide that clearly tells you the right level of octane required by your car. Your car’s user manual contains the information about the minimum octane rating that your vehicle’s engine is compatible with.
If your manual mentions regular gasoline, you can go for 87 octane and if it says higher octane you can use 89, 91, or 93 rated octane, whichever is the closest rating available at the service station. It is better not to go for octane level below the mentioned rating.
Based on the car’s performance: Only new, higher compression or turbo-charged performance vehicles need higher octane rated fuel. For vehicles with low compression, low octane rated fuel is enough because low compression vehicles cannot produce enough pressure in the cylinder required for combustion; thus it affects the efficiency of the engine.
Based on the age and condition of the car: If you have an old model car, using higher octane rated fuel is of no use. Sometimes people tend to use high octane rated fuel in old cars assuming that they perform better and longer. If you are doing so, you are simply wasting your money.