Which Type (Octane) of Gas Is Recommended for My Car?

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When someone pulls up to a gas station, the first thing they’ll see is the big sign lit up with the prices for the different grades of gasoline. There’s regular, premium, super, and a number of other variations of names for these grades. But which grade is the best?

The meaning of octane

Most people think that an octane rating is to gasoline what a "proof" number is to alcohol. This is a common misconception, and the real source of the octane rating is a bit more unexpected. Octane is actually a measure of how resistant that grade of gasoline is to engine knocks at higher compression in the combustion chamber. Less stable fuel, below 90 octane, is fine for most engines. In high-performance engines though, the high compression of the air/fuel mixture may be enough to ignite the mixture before the spark plug supplies the spark. This is called a "ping" or "knock." High octane fuel is able to resist the heat and pressure of high-performance engines and avoid knocking, igniting only when the spark plug sparks.

For cars driven normally, engine knocks are easier to avoid and the higher octane does nothing to improve performance. In the past, cars would need higher octane fuel every few years due to deposits in the engine increasing compression. Now, there are cleaning detergents and chemicals in all major brands of gas that prevent this build-up. There is no reason to use a higher octane of fuel if the engine does not knock or ping.

How to identify what octane your car needs:

  • First, open the fuel filler door.

  • Next, look at the gas cap and the inside of the fuel filler door. One of these should have the recommended octane fuel for the vehicle written on it.

  • The typical way the recommended fuel octane is listed is as follows:

    • XX Octane (sometimes “AKL” is put in place of octane) recommended
    • XX Octane minimum
  • Using a fuel with an octane rating under the minimum requirement is likely to cause engine knocking.

  • Choose fuel based on the octane number, not the name (regular, premium, etc.) of the grade.

  • If the cap is yellow, then the vehicle is a flex-fuel vehicle that can take E85 ethanol.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
652 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.
Chevrolet Camaro - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Great knowledgeable mechanic and fast great work. I will use Pardeep and your services again. Thank you

Theodore

15 years of experience
1137 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Everett, Washington
Theodore arrived on time, he did a great job replacing my brakes on my Camry, I will definitely work with him again.
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

Matthew

32 years of experience
734 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Yorktown, Virginia
We've been using Your Mechanic services for a few years, for a few reasons. The convenience of having an expert mechanic "on-call," the great pricing and transparency for services (saving 10% - 25% at times), most of all Matt is our go-to guy who is highly qualified, knowledgeable in the work and knows how to explain it to us in detail.
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport News, Virginia
Matt's technical knowledge of his profession is incredible! He is prompt, thorough, friendly, professional, engaging, and completes the job to 100% perfection! Thank you, Matt for the most outstanding auto repair service in all my many years!!!

Jason

31 years of experience
162 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Mateo, California
Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

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