According to Cartalk.com, premium and regular gasoline are essentially the same fuel with one exception: octane rating, or the fuel's resistance to combustion. Octane ratings prevent pinging and knocking in the engine. Theoretically, only the spark plug should ignite fuel. However, in more powerful engines, the compression of fuel can cause combustion in several places. When the combustion from the spark plug and a secondary flame collide, it makes a pinging noise and in more extreme cases, a knock.
The American Petroleum Institute says that premium gasoline can give your better mileage because premium contains more energy per gallon. However, the gain in fuel efficiency is so small that you will likely not even notice the difference, according to Cars.com. The Federal Trade Commission also believes that premium gasoline has no effect on fuel mileage, according to a report by USA Today.
If you still choose premium gasoline because you think it might give better mileage, consider the added fuel costs for your vehicle. Premium, according to a USA Today article, costs about 20 cents more per gallon than regular gasoline. The more you drive, the bigger the price differential. If you car gets 14 miles per gallon, and you travel 12,000 miles a year, that works out to roughly an extra $171 per year.
Just because premium gasoline offers a negligible fuel-efficiency benefit does not mean that a higher-quality gasoline is useless for your automobile. According to Cars.com, your owner manual should tell you the required octane rating for your vehicle. Using a lower-octane fuel that causes pinging and knocking can damage your car.
There are ways to guarantee an increase in gas mileage by changing your driving habits, according to Cars.com. Fuel efficiency decreases as weight increases. Remove unnecessary cargo and roof racks that are not in use. Keeping your tires properly inflated saves on gas and gives a smoother ride.
As gasoline prices keep rising, vehicles owners are looking for news ways to increase their mileage. It seems common sense that a more expensive premium gas should increase your automobile's performance. However, the extra cost of premium gas may not offer a proportional benefit. If you want to conserve gas, there are several proven methods that are usually free.