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Is Premium Gas Really Better Than Regular?

You've been fueling up a higher rate at the pumps, but the all important question is whether premium gas is really better than regular?

In one word: No.

According to a USA today study, "Engines designed for regular fuel don't improve on premium and sometimes run worse. And today's engines designed for premium run fine on regular, too, their makers say, though power declines slightly."

In fact, "The main advantage of premium-grade gas is that it allows automakers to advertise a few more horsepower by designing and tuning engines to take advantage of premium's anti-knock properties. But auto engineers generally agree that if you use regular in a premium engine, the power loss is so slight, most drivers can't tell."

And "burning regular when the owner's manual specifies premium won't void the warranty, nor damage the engine, even the most finicky automakers say."

General Motors fuel specialist, Bob Furey says "you're giving up perhaps just a little bit of performance that a customer wouldn't really even notice, it's so slight."

He adds technically there is "no way of taking advantage of premium in a regular-grade car."

Another fuel expert at SAE points out that premium, in fact, sometimes is worse fuel than regular "because it's harder to ignite than lower-octane fuels. As a result, some engines won't start as quickly or run as smoothly on premium."

Don't believe us? Hear what the companies say:

Jim Blenkarn, in charge of powertrains at Nissan: "There is no gain. You're wasting money."

Paul Williamsen, technical expert at Toyota: "No customer should ever be deluded into thinking there's any value in buying a higher grade of octane than we specify."

Porsche: "Our cars must be able to drive all over the world, and so we are able to run on regular. You don't have to feel that a mechanical problem or anything else will happen."

So the next time you're fuelling up, ask yourself: is premium gas really better than regular?

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