How to Know What Type of Gas to Use | YourMechanic Advice

How to Know What Type of Gas to Use

Your vehicle is propelled by a combustion engine. That means that fuel is injected into the engine’s cylinders in some fashion, where it combusts, or burns, to create downward force against a piston in the cylinder, turning a crankshaft in the engine. The transmission attaches to the back end of the crankshaft, where rotational power is converted into usable energy to the wheels.

The combustion engine relies on three things to operate:

  • Air
  • Fuel
  • Ignition

If one of these things is missing, your engine will likely not run at all. Also, if the fuel you put in your vehicle is incorrect, it will not run. And, if you have a gasoline engine, you may require a certain grade of fuel for your engine to run properly.

Part 1 of 2: Determine the basic requirements

Before you fuel up your vehicle, you need to know which fuel pump to use. Does your car require diesel fuel or gasoline?

If you accidentally put diesel fuel in your gas-powered vehicle or vice versa, your engine will not run. The fuel in the tank will need to be drained, cleaned, and re-installed, and likely the engine’s fuel injection system will need to be cleaned before it works properly again. It can cost a lot of money to repair your vehicle if you put in the wrong type of fuel.

label reading premium unleaded fuel only

Step 1: Check the label inside the fuel door. Open the fuel door. If you have a release lever or button inside your car, release the door to check.

  • Look for a label on the fuel door or by the fuel filler neck.

  • You should find a label that says “Diesel Fuel Only” or “Unleaded Gasoline Only,” or similar wording.

  • The label can peel off or become unreadable, so proceed to the next step if you don’t see it.

dashboard reading ultra low sulfur diesel fuel only

Step 2: Check on your instrument cluster. Some vehicles have a warning on the instrument cluster by the fuel gauge regarding the type of fuel required.

  • This usually pertains to vehicles other than gasoline-operated vehicles.

nissan owners manual showing recommendation

Step 3: Check your vehicle documentation. Check in your owner’s manual under the fluids and specifications section.

  • Look on your vehicle build sheet for the type of engine. It will specify whether you have a diesel or gasoline-powered engine.

Step 4: Call your vehicle manufacturer’s support line. Ask an agent which type of fuel is right for your car.

  • You’ll need to supply your year, make, and model, and the VIN number for the agent to accurately answer your question.

Part 2 of 2: Determine the correct grade of fuel

Diesel fuel usually only has a single grade of fuel available at fuel stations, making your choice for diesel simple. Gasoline isn’t quite as easy as there are often three choices for you to select from at the gas station: regular, mid-grade, and premium.

Step 1: Find the correct grade. Check your vehicle for indications of the correct grade.

  • Some vehicles require premium unleaded gasoline, while others may need regular grade.

  • Check on your fuel door for your specification.

  • If your vehicle states “premium gasoline required,” use only premium grade fuel for the optimum efficiency and operation.

  • If your vehicle says “premium gasoline recommended,” it will operate on regular grade fuel as well but may not operate quite as efficiently.

  • If your vehicle’s label indicates to use regular gasoline, you can likely use any grade, though it’s unlikely you’ll see much benefit, if any, from using higher grade fuels.

Step 2: Determine if you have a performance vehicle.

  • If you have a turbocharged or supercharged engine, you’ll typically need to use premium fuel to prevent engine ping.

  • If you have a high-horsepower engine, or a high-compression engine like such as an exotic sports car, premium fuel is normally used.

  • If you have an economy car or family sedan, or if your vehicle is a normal use vehicle like a pickup truck or SUV, you’ll typically need only regular grade gasoline.

Step 3: Listen to your vehicle. If your engine has an abnormal “pinging” or knocking noise when your engine is idling and you are using regular grade gasoline, you may need premium fuel.

  • Try an octane booster like Lucas Oil Octane Boost in your fuel to determine if the knock or ping is reduced.

  • If the octane booster helps to reduce your engine noise, use premium fuel at your next fuel fill.

While you figure out which type of fuel is optimal for your vehicle, make sure that the components that contribute to efficient fuel use are working properly. If your Check Fuel Cap light is on or if your fuel door won’t close, call a qualified mechanic to check them out for you so you don’t run into any larger issues down the road.


Next Step

Schedule 75 Point Safety Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is 75 Point Safety Inspection. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent 75 Point Safety Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic 75 Point Safety Inspection Service

Average Rating

4.8/5

Number of Reviews

422

Rating Summary
388
15
10
1
8
388
15
10
1
8

Pardeep

20 years of experience
780 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Fusion - 75 Point Safety Inspection - San Jose, California
I have ordered a 75-point inspection of the car since my dealership claimed it had an oil leak and the timing cover replacement was due (this kind of repair costs in the ballpark of a thousand dollars). I mentioned the need for a second opinion on that since the car had been bought relatively recently from that dealer (certified pre-owned) and not very actively used. Pradeep performed the safety inspection in a very timely manner and addressed my main question by honestly concluding that there was no leak but just some dust collected over time. This has saved me much time and money. Finally, I was also very glad to learn a tip on how to find a matching paint for a body scratch from him.
Ford Escape - 75 Point Safety Inspection - San Jose, California
Pradeep immediately found the suspension problem I was worried about and fixed it. We had just purchased this car and now feel a lot better about it now that he has checked it out.

Honorio

18 years of experience
828 reviews
Honorio
18 years of experience
Hyundai Accent - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Sunnyvale, California
Honorio not only told me what is going on with the car but was so honest about everything. Looking forward to having Honorio taking car of my requests.
Acura RDX - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Palo Alto, California
Honorio went above and beyond my expectations. He was honest about which repairs needed to be done even though my service revision decreased his income. Will absolutely use again!!!! Thank you!

Robert

3 years of experience
19 reviews
Robert
3 years of experience
Nissan Versa - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Lakewood, Washington
Robert is a rockstar. I can't express enough (again) the quality of his work and his ability to work around our schedules here. Honest, professional and courteous. I would recommend his services to any and everyone.

Juan

11 years of experience
11 reviews
Juan
11 years of experience
Mazda Protege5 - 75 Point Safety Inspection - Vacaville, California
Professional, clear, & courteous when discussing results of inspection & recommendations going forward. If I still live in the area when I need to do future services, will definitely book again.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

What Prevents the Fuel System From Leaking?
Leaking Leaking fuel is a hazardous and wasteful problem for a vehicle to have. Manufacturers know this, and to combat the problem they have implemented a number of simple ways to prevent fuel from leaking out of the fuel system:...
Does Gasoline Expire?
Gasoline Gasoline does expire if it is left unused for a long period of time. The problem with gas is its volatility. A volatile substance is prone to separating and vaporizing. This is especially bad if the fuel vapor has...
How Far Can You Drive Your Vehicle on Empty?
Knowing how many miles you can drive on an empty gas tank prevents getting stranded. Nissan Altimas can go the farthest when the low fuel light is on.

Related questions

Fuel pump relay issue. 2000 Buick LeSabre

Hi there - the first rule of modifications is that when things stop working, you revert to the condition before the last change. In this case, remove power to the new stereo components, recheck your fuel fuses and the pump...

How do I view the instant fuel econ?

The instant fuel econ displays the gas mileage that your car is achieving at any exact moment. To view this feature, follow these steps: 1. Press the Up/Down buttons on the steering wheel until Trip 1 or 2 is displayed...

Car will not start, no spark - 1994 Ford E-350 Econoline Club Wagon

Besides checking the engine and fuel injection fuses and relays, it is possible the oil pressure cutoff switch may be malfunctioning since the vehicle sat up so long without oil pressure. If the engine oil pump isn't priming, there might...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com