Premium Vs. Regular Gas: What’s The Difference?

Pointing At High Gas PriceWhen you pull up to the gas station, do you really know what you’re getting by making the choice of regular or premium gas? Which one should you choose for your vehicle? Is it worth it to pay more for premium? Here are a handful of helpful facts to guide your choice at the pump:

Premium Vs. Regular Gas

  1. If your car does not recommend premium, you aren’t doing your vehicle any favors by getting it. Some vehicles specify “premium” gas. Engineers at auto manufacturers prescribe premium gas because certain kinds of engines operate optimally with higher-octane fuel. If your owner’s manual doesn’t call for premium gas, your vehicle doesn’t need it.
  2. If your owner’s manual does suggest premium gas, there is a reason. Cars that require premium gasoline have high-compression engines, turbo chargers and other high performance aspects. Not using premium won’t necessarily hurt your engine, but you could lose some of the performance of that premium engine you paid for.
  3. Filling up at a station with “Top Tier” gas might help you save on maintenance costs in the long run. Your car can get plaque build-up from gasoline deposits. While most gasoline today has detergent additives in it already to help keep fuel injectors and valves clean, filling up at stations with a “Top Tier” designation on the pump offers some substantial reassurance. “Top Tier” is an official designation from the Environmental Protection Agency that identifies gas meeting a minimum standard of performance and cleanliness. Premium or regular, “Top Tier” gas meets a standard of higher-percentage detergent additives.
  4. Consider your car’s weight and age when making your choice. If you have an older, heavier car, SUV or truck with high-performance engines and you are experiencing engine knock, try using premium gas for a few fills to see if that fixes the problem, even if the vehicle does not call for it.
  5. What qualifies as premium gas varies from state to state. So pay attention if you are on a cross-country road-trip or crossing state lines. One state may require a minimum octane rating of 92 to be considered premium, while another may only require 90. Gas stations generally offer three octane grades: regular (usually 87 octane), mid-grade (usually 89 octane) and premium (usually 91 or 93). Check the sticker on the pump to know which you are getting.

If your vehicle’s octane fuel number has you looking to buy a new or used car, you can confirm your search at the GEICO Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar, before even heading to the dealership. Plus, every reported purchase from a TrueCar Certified Dealer comes with extra benefits including Auto Deductible Reimbursement. See how much you could save on your new vehicle today.

Next article: 6 Hacks to Help You Save on Gas

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  1. Bob Dennis says

    I thought that octane was gasolines ability to hold oxygen therefore at higher elevations where the air is thinner the gasoline cannot hold as much oxygen resulting in a lower octane rating. Is this correct?

  2. Rose Mary Harris says

    I’ve always been taught about what kind of gas to use in my car by my dad, which is now deceased. I’m constantly learning more and morewhich is always helpful. The car that I’ve purchased is a 2004, with the financial mess that my ex-husband left me in, I’m constantly having to repair something but all-in-all i could have done worse. I love my car and all of the tips and tricks that are on this site are very informative, thank you

  3. Charles Kemp says

    I have heard that gas can make a difference in your vehicle. I just thought that the gas was different in price just to tell you that there are different kinds. I wonder if I can use premium in my car. It might make a big difference in my car’s performance.