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Can You Put Premium Gas In Any Car? What You Need To Know!

man refueling his car

If you have ever found yourself wondering about premium gas while pumping your car full of regular gas, you are not alone. Millions of people each year choose to put premium gas into their cars even though their engines do not require it. It is tempting to think that your car might get better performance if you simply upgrade to a higher fuel grade. With that question in mind, can you put premium gas into any car? And should you?

tank divider

Premium Gas vs. Regular Gas

Have you ever noticed that the buttons on the gas pump feature different numbers? Typically, in the US, these numbers are 87, 89, and 91. Premium gas is often labeled with that 91, but what does that mean? Those numbers denote the octane level of the fuel. But before you start thinking that high octane gas is automatically better or faster, there are a few things you should know.

First, a vast majority of regular car engines are designed to take regular 87 gasoline. The higher-octane rating of gasoline does not actually provide you any additional benefits, especially if your engine is not rated for it. Octane levels are designed for cars whose engines run at different compression ratios. Standard 87 octane fuel is designed for engines that run on the typical compression ratio.

premium and regular gasoline
Image By: Pixabay

High-octane fuels are designed for cars that run at higher compression ratios. These are often luxury or performance engines designed with higher horsepower and different configurations to a typical car. For example, many sport-tuned engines require premium gas. Those include your sports cars like Corvettes, not minivans.

However, premium gasoline is still unleaded gasoline. Cars that take unleaded gasoline will be able to utilize premium gas as the fuel; they just won’t all be able to use it efficiently. Premium gas is not like diesel fuel, where putting diesel into a gasoline engine will ruin the car completely.

You cannot put premium gas into a car that takes diesel fuel.

What Happens If You Put Premium Gas In a Regular Car?

The good and/or bad news is that nothing will happen if you put premium gas in a regular car. A typical engine is not designed to benefit from high-octane fuels, so you will not see any benefit from using them. Stories of getting higher performance out of a car by simply changing to premium fuel are likely psychosomatic. It is all in their head.

The only tangible effect you will see by using premium gas on a standard car is much higher fuel bills. Premium gas often costs anywhere from 20 to 70 cents more per gallon than standard gasoline.

If you find a gas station that is out of regular and is only offering premium, you can put it in your car, and it will run, but it will not run better than on regular gas. In fact, some engines will run worse on premium gas because they are not designed to burn premium gas.

Car engine
Image Credit: paulbr75, Pixabay

Follow Your Car Manufacturer’s Fuel Recommendation

All cars come with a recommended fuel, and most cars recommend standard gas. That is not simply a suggestion; that is what the engine was built to accept as its primary fuel source. There are cars that call for premium gas and have engines designed to run primarily on premium fuel. Those cars will benefit from using premium gas, but only those cars will see results.

If you do not know what type of gas your car calls for, it is likely 87 octane regular. If you are curious, consult your owner’s manual. It will tell you what fuel is recommended for your vehicle’s best performance.

Can You Mix Regular Gas With Premium Gas?

If your car still has some regular gas in the tank and you want to put in premium, you might be wondering if you can mix the two. The answer is yes. Mixing the fuel will not harm the car. It will only average out the octane level.

Mixing fuel is not recommended in most cases, but if you need to, it can be done.

pouring fuel on gas tank
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Bottom Line

Can you put premium gas in any car? Technically, yes. You can put premium gas in any gasoline car. A better question is should you put premium gas in any car? The answer to that is no. There is no reason to do so. The Federal Trade Commission believes that over $2 billion per year is wasted by drivers using premium gas on regular cars. That is a lot of money. So, while it may be enticing to try your hand at premium gas, unless your manufacturer specifically recommends its use in your particular vehicle, doing so is simply a waste of money.

Feature Image Credit: RossHelen, Shutterstock


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