Should You Put Premium Gas In Your Regular Car?

regular or premium gas

You’ve probably been putting the wrong gas into your car this whole time! Yeah, seriously! I bet you probably fill your 2006 Corolla with regular gas, right? I mean, who wouldn’t? But why do we do that? Well, probably because it’s the cheapest! Most of the time it’s the go-to 87. 

So, how come there’s higher numbers at the pump? Do the higher numbers mean that they’re better for your car? What do I use in my cars? Well, in this article, I’m going to tell you some gas station secrets so you can decide whether you should put premium gas in your regular car!


gas pump octance ratings
The Car Connection

In America, most gas pumps have at least 3 different ratings of octane gas that they sell: Regular, Plus, and Premium. So, what’s right for your car? Well, the answer isn’t just cut and dry. 

So, what’s the difference between the different tiers of gas? Well, Regular generally has an octane rating of 87. The weird middle child, Plus, generally has a rating of 89. And Premium generally is 91 or 93. 

And unfortunately Stradman, who just bought his Bugatti Veyron with 1,001 horsepower, can only get 91 octane in Utah, so he had to get a tune to run the lower-octane fuel, which reduced his hypercar to only 850 horsepower. Wow, I feel so bad.  

So, what does each octane rating mean for you? It means that the higher the octane, the more compression the gas can withstand before it detonates. Cars with higher compression or forced induction, like turbos, generally require premium gas. But most cars on the road today are made just to run on regular gas. And the weird middle child is just left on the pump for looks. 

With that being said, some people still fill their regular cars with gas with a higher octane than is needed. They do that because they think they’re boosting their car’s performance, and keeping their engine cleaner. But does the “better” gas really do that? Well, no, not really. 

All ]they’re really doing is spending more on gas. On average, it’s about 50 cents more per gallon, which totals up to a few extra bucks each time. So, why spend that extra money? Especially when filling a regular car up with Premium has no positive or negative effects for a car that can’t take advantage of the octane boost. 

But what if I told you the octane rating you put in your car isn’t the most important thing about your gas. 


shell employee

Yeah, what’s more important than the octane of your gas is the detergent additives that’s put in your gas. Those additives are supposedly what cleans your engine, and also what optimizes performance. This is where a large part of the high gas prices come in. 

So, say you wanted to open your own gas station. You could have your own gas pumps and buy some gasoline at multiple different octanes and start to sell it. But what do the big names have that you don’t? Their additives. A secret blend of literally whatever they want, made to clean the engine and keep it running at its peak performance for years and hundreds of thousands of miles. 

So, what’s in their additives? Well, I honestly don’t know. Unlike a box of cereal, your gas doesn’t come with a list of what’s in it. And each gas company offers a different blend of additives that they mix into their gas regardless of octane rating. 

Then how do we know what’s best for our cars? Well, your best guess is as good as ours. As gas companies are always updating their additives, trying to make their gases burn more efficiently and make them better for the engines that run their gases. But generally, the gas companies use the same additives in their fuel no matter what octane rating you choose. 

However, that didn’t used to be the case. Two decades ago, the government mandated that gas companies use a minimum level of additives to their fuel. So today, all gas that goes into your car will at least have some additives to help prevent clogged fuel injectors and keep your engine running right. 

Premium Or Regular?

premium or regular gas

So, if the gas you’ve been putting in your car works for you, then I’d say keep using it. But what octane rating should you use in your car? Premium or Regular? It’s a hard question, because you don’t want to waste money buying expensive gas you don’t need, but you don’t want to have the wrong gas in your car either. 

Well, here’s the honest truth. Thumb through your owner’s manual and find out what octane it recommends you use. Do this and you might be surprised. You might’ve been spending hundreds of dollars more each month just getting Premium gas when your car only needs Regular. 

But what if you’ve modified your car? Stay with the recommended fuel unless you have a tune that says otherwise. Most cars with performance tunes will require Premium gas, even if originally the car ran on Regular. 

Reading the owner’s manual or knowing your tune is pretty simple, and it’s a good way to make sure that you’re running your car right. So, if your car says run on 87, run it on 87. And if you’re running it on higher octane gas, you’re basically just throwing your money away. 

European Style

european gas ratings ron

If you’re unsure, 87 is Regular and 91 or 93 is Premium. So, the higher the number, the better the gas. But how come Europe gets better gas than us? I mean, their numbers are in the high 90’s and 100’s. 

Well, they don’t measure their gas in octane, they measure their levels of gas in RON. So, what’s the difference between RON and octane? Octane is the average of the RON and MON figures, and MON is the behavior of the fuel in the engine at high temperatures and speeds, whereas RON is the behavior of the fuel in the engine at mixed speeds and temperatures. 

Therefore, 97 octane, or super unleaded in Britain, is roughly equivalent to 91 octane Premium in the United States. So, people in Europe don’t exactly get better gas than us over here in the USA, and even in Europe you shouldn’t use gas that’s better than what your car recommends. Unless you want to spend more money than you have to, that is.  

Use the Right Fuel

gas pump

You’ll be surprised if you’re using Premium fuel in a car that accepts Regular when you change to Regular and notice that nothing changes except for the fact that you keep having more and more money left in your bank account. And there’ll be no drawbacks, no performance losses, your fuel economy won’t go down, and your engine will last the same amount of time. 

But, with that being said, if you have a car that requires Premium fuel, don’t go putting in Regular fuel and expect it to run the same. When you put in gas that can’t hold up to the compression of the motor, things generally start to break, and break quickly. 

One thing you definitely shouldn’t do is put any diesel or mixed fuel into your car just because it’s cheaper. That’ll just put you on a fast track to a new engine and thousands down the drain in repairs. Not to mention the massive headaches it’ll give you. 

Engines have hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of engineering and development built into them. So, you’ve got to trust them when they say what kind of gas to run. 

But remember, if you tune your car for performance, most tunes require that you run on Premium. So not only will you have to shell out the $500 for a tune, but you’ll also be spending more and more on gas each time that you’re at the pump. 

Final Thoughts

happy girl at gas pump
Money Talks News

So, should you put Premium gas in your regular car? No. Can you put Premium gas in your regular car?Yes, and a lot of people do, but they don’t realize that they’re not giving themselves any benefit, and really just overspending on gas

Have you put Premium gas in your regular car? I know I have once or thrice, but I’m never doing it again!

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