Generally, there seem to be three types of people who have no problems shelling out more cash at the pump to buy premium gas. The first type does it because their vehicle requires it. The second type does it as a way to show extra love to their car. Lastly, some do it just because they’ve fallen for the marketing hype surrounding higher-octane fuel.
But did any of them make the correct choice by opting for high octane gas? That’s the big question that we’re going to explore together in this article.
Once you’ve read to the end, you should be able to decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth paying more to fill your car with high-octane fuel.
What Are Octanes and Why Do They Matter?
With all this talk about octanes making the difference between standard fuels and the premium stuff, we should take a step back and start with the basic question: What are octanes, and why do they matter in the first place?
An 'octane' is a hydrocarbon inside petroleum. But when it comes to our options at the bowser, it all boils down to the fuel's octane rating.
That rating is a measurement of how well that particular fuel performs when it's compressed, i.e., during the compression phase in a car's combustion engine. The higher the rating, the more compression that fuel can take before it detonates.
To put it very simply, fuels with a higher-octane rating are ideal for engines that operate at a higher compression ratio, such as those found in high-performance cars.
Here, it's important to note that high-octane fuels by themselves do not produce more power. It just so happens that those kinds of fuels are typically used in high-performance cars with engines that already have more power.
Why Is Higher Octane Fuel More Expensive?
As mentioned earlier, high-octane fuel is ideal for high compression engines, like those found in sports cars. Still, that’s not the main reason why higher-octane fuel is more expensive than regular types.
For starters, higher-octane fuel costs the oil companies more to produce. The higher production cost is handed over to the customer in the form of a higher price at the gas pump.
Besides that, there’s also less of a demand for premium gas compared to regular fuels. Most ordinary people try their very best to reduce their fuel costs, which is why they stick to the cheapest stuff they can find.
So, what do you get when you combine higher production costs with lower demand? You have a fuel type that costs even more to produce, translating to a more expensive price at the servo.
Is Paying Premium for High Octane Gas Worth It?
So now we've come to the million-dollar question: Is it worth paying a premium for high octane gas? Well, in my opinion, no, it's not worth it.
Of course, this is a matter of personal choice. As mentioned in the introduction earlier, some car owners feel better when they put premium gas into their beloved cars.
That’s all well and good. For most people who drive regular non-high-performance cars, standard fuels are more than good enough.
Here are a few critical things to remember when comparing regular and premium gas.
Non-premium Doesn’t Mean Bad
When you put something ‘premium’ next to the ‘regular’ stuff, it’s only normal for us to feel like there might be something inferior about the regular option. That’s why it’s important to remember that there’s nothing inherently bad about non-premium fuels.
Regular Gas Gets the Job Done
The next time you find yourself at the gas pump struggling to make a decision, remember that the non-premium option is still excellent fuel for your car. As long as you’re buying your fuel from a reputable brand, you can rest assured that you’re purchasing a well-engineered fuel product for your vehicle.
That’s not all! These days, even regular fuels come with a bonus: some already have additives in them that’ll help support your engine and keep it running for longer.
So, despite the lower cost of regular gas, you’re still getting plenty of value for your money.
Don’t Fall for the Marketing Hype
Petrol companies and gas stations put a fair bit of effort into marketing premium fuels. That’s their way of upselling or convincing you to pay a little extra for the premium option.
Besides promising a higher power output, some premium fuels are marketed as having additives to clean and care for your engine. That’s probably true, but you should do a bit of research on the regular fuel you’ve been using all this while. You might find that it probably contains similar additives already!
As mentioned above, premium gas is good (if your engine needs it), but there’s nothing wrong with regular fuels. So, try your best not to be seduced by the TV ads and posters that make premium fuel sound like it’ll make your car fly!
Stick to Your Engine’s Recommended Octane Rating
Despite all that's been mentioned above about higher octane fuel, you might still have doubts about all this. Well, don't just take my word for it, but go ahead and refer to your car owner's manual.
There, you’ll find recommendations for what kind of fuels you should use for your car’s engine. Typically, that information will also include a minimum fuel octane rating that works well with your vehicle and its engine.
Why does that minimum octane rating matter? Well, as long as the regular fuel you buy meets that minimum octane rating, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. More importantly, it also proves that you do not need to ‘upgrade’ to buy premium gas.
Whatever gas you’ve been using so far is good enough. So instead of spending more on high octane gas, you can save that money and upgrade other parts of your car.
Learn How to Make Smart Decisions!
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By Ray Hasbollah