Why Do Some Cars Require Premium Gas?

car refueling

If you’re wondering whether you should be filling up your car with premium gas instead of regular, here are 7 things you should know about premium gas vs regular gas.

You might be surprised by what you learn!

What’s Premium Gas?

Premium gas contains a higher octane, most of the time level of 93 (as opposed to 87 in regular). Premium gas is also called high-octane or performance fuel. Usually, you don’t need to use premium gas unless your car specifically requires it.

Cars that require premium are mostly performance cars. But most cars are designed to run on regular gas, so check your owner’s manual. You don’t want to pay for something you don’t need!

Now, if your car is premium gas recommended (but not mandatory), then using it will improve your vehicle’s performance and efficiency and preserve your engine health.

You may think that premium gasoline has more energy than regular, right?  Wrong.

Premium gas has a higher octane. Octane determines how easily your engine will ignite under pressure and combust with air and fuel at high pressure. Without enough octane, your engine can detonate too early due to the high pressure of the air-fuel mixture (which can damage valves and pistons) or misfire. When this happens, this is called a knock.

Higher octane allows preventing this premature detonation of the compressed air-fuel mixture to happen.

Most cars use regular fuel because the engine was tuned to limit this premature ignition.

Is Premium Gas Better Than Regular?

If you’re like most people, you don’t want to spend more money on gas than you have to.

But is premium gas really better for your car and your wallet? Let’s break it down in simple terms.

First off, premium gas has nothing to do with how much power your engine produces. It has everything to do with how efficiently that power is converted into speed and acceleration when you step on the pedal.

Engines get more and more powerful by increasing the compression of the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. To prevent the mixture from igniting prematurely, they need a higher octane fuel. This is why many performance cars (especially with a turbo) run on high-octane fuel.

However, if you drive an average vehicle—especially one that was built within the last 20 years—you won’t notice any difference between regular and premium gas as your engine as been properly tuned to use regular gas.

Higher octane means higher resistance to detonation or engine knock which is more likely to happen in turbocharged engines where the compression of the mixture of air-fuel is higher than in naturally aspirated engines.

Why Premium Gas Is So Expensive?

Premium gas is more expensive than regular gas because it contains a higher octane level. This means it requires a more elaborate process to be made at the refinery. Also, some gas companies may include better additives in premium gas.

Can Premium Gas Hurt My Engine And Cause Misfire?

If you’re concerned about running premium gasoline in your regular vehicle, don’t be!

Premium gas in a regular gas engine doesn’t harm your engine or cause misfire problems.

Higher Octane is used to prevent the spontaneous ignition of gas under high pressure in the combustion chamber.

If your car uses regular gas, you will not even see the difference. It will just cost you more money at the pump.

Does Premium Gas Last Longer Than Regular?

Many people buy premium gasoline over regular because they think it will last longer than regular gasoline. The reality is that it might, but not by much…

You’d better save that cash for something else (proper maintenance for example)!

You will mostly see a difference if your engine is premium gas recommended. Meaning that you can run your engine with both regular and premium gas.

In this situation, after filling up your tank, the engine will detect automatically which gas you’re using and adapt to this situation. Your engine will allow the turbo to increase even more the air-fuel mixture. When you have better compression, your engine is more efficient. From then you will see a difference. but, hey, it also depends on how you drive.

Usually, when you’re using premium gas you may be tempted to accelerate faster and therefore comsum more gas.

Will Premium Gas Clean My Engine?

Yes and No 🙂

If your engine does not require a higher octane, it won’t make it burn cleaner.


What makes the difference to clean the engine is not the octane but the additive that gas companies add to gasoline in premium gas.

The thing is that the composition of gas is kept secret by gas companies so it is not really possible to tell which gas is doing better than others.

And most modern engines run so cleanly these days that there isn’t much gunk left to clean off anyway! Also, gasoline is a solvent so it is already an engine cleaner!

What happens if I use regular gas in my car designed for premium

Using regular gas in a car designed for premium gas can lead to engine troubles, reduced performance and lower fuel economy.

So don’t try it!

Without enough octane in the gas, your engine can detonate which can damage valves and pistons and misfire if you care about the longevity of your car stick to what fuel is recommended by the manufacturer.

What to do if you’ve put regular in a car that requires premium?

You can buy an octane booster at the gas station that will fix the problem.

If you don’t find any and your tank is not filled to the maximum, find a gas station and fill the rest of your tank with the highest octane you can find.

As you drive and empty your tank, keep filling with high octane.

The more you dilute the low octane fuel with the high octane fuel, the better it will get!

For some car engines, the manufacturer only recommends premium gas, meaning that if you use premium, your car will have better performance but you don’t have to. You can still use regular gas.

Some cars have engines specifically designed for premium gas and require it as part of their warranty agreement. Stick with what your manufacturer recommends. Otherwise, you could be left with costly repairs down the road.


The only time you should use premium gas is if you have an engine that requires it.

Using premium on an engine that requires regular gas does nothing (except waste your money!).

If you are unsure if your car requires premium fuel, check with your owner’s manual, or the sticker on your car (otherwise just google it).

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