Octane, Choosing The Wrong Octane Will Cost You
This is more of a clarifying post, rather than
advice or tips. It’s about fuel octane, when to choose what octane for
your vehicle, and what the wrong octane will do.
I’ve heard so many people talk about how they ‘threw some high octane’
in their car ‘to get more performance’.
First the basics. What is the octane rating you
see on every fuel pump everywhere?
Without getting technical and beyond the scope of
this article, octane is a measure of gasoline’s anti-knocking
properties. What is anti-knocking? Well, simply put knocking is a
condition in which fuel burns too early in the combustion process, also
called pre-detonation or pinging. It’s the instability of gasoline that
causes it to burn prematurely and unstably. The higher the octane, the
more stable the gasoline.
Higher octane gasoline, which is more stable, has no more energy
potential than lower octane gasoline. There is no more energy to be had
from high octane gasoline, then from low octane gasoline.
What octane gasoline
should I be using in my car?
Use only what the owner’s manual specifies. If
your car is designed to run on regular gasoline, or 87 octane. If your
manual specifies higher octane fuel, such as 89, 91, or 93 use the
closest octane rating available at your gas station without going below
the specified rating in your manual.
What will happen if I
use higher octane gas than I’m supposed to?
A few things. For one, you will be wasting a huge
amount of money paying for high octane gasoline. Second, your car will
not run correctly, whether you notice it or not. Higher octane fuel
requires more heat and more precision to burn correctly. If your car is
designed to burn 87, it will not burn 93 correctly. Third, your gas
mileage will suffer. The inability of your engine to burn the higher
octane gas correctly will cause your engine to produce less power and
thus will require more fuel to perform at the same level.
What about using lower
octane gasoline in a high octane engine?
In this situation, you will see negative effects
that could be even worse. Using low octane fuel in a high octane engine
will result in severely reduced performance because the engine will
attempt to adjust to the lower octane gasoline. In extreme cases, or
with prolonged use of low octane gasoline in these engines, pinging or
pre-detonation can occur and can eventually destroy your engine.
Pre-detonation causes very hot conditions in your engine and can melt
sparkplug and pistons.
What fuel you use in your vehicle is important.
Make sure you always follow the manufacturers recommendations. Using a
fuel other than what the manufacturer specifies will in no way help you
save money, gain power, or do anything other than cost you money.