Many drivers question which type of fuel is best for their car, especially after hearing rumors or stories about the many benefits of premium gas.
It can be tough to know what is suitable for you, your vehicle, and your wallet.
So, is premium gas worth it?
The answer is that it depends on your car.
Specific vehicles will require premium gas to run correctly, but for others, buying premium is simply a waste of money.
Read on to learn more about when you need premium gas and when you can skip it.
Table Of Contents
What Is Premium Gas?
Premium gas is a type of gas designed for high-performance cars.
Premium gas has a higher octane rating than regular gas, which allows it to be compressed at a higher rate before igniting.
Premium gas is required for many cars, such as luxury and high-performance vehicles.
The type of engine in your car will determine whether or not it requires premium.
What is the Benefit of Premium Gas?
If your car requires premium fuel, premium fuel will improve fuel economy, engine performance, and the health of your engine.
Premium gas benefits high-performing cars because their powerful engines compress fuel more than regular engines.
Because of its higher octane rating, premium gas can withstand this higher compression without igniting too soon.
Engines work by compressing fuel and air and igniting the mixture with a spark plug.
The resulting explosion pushes the piston, bringing power to the vehicle.
If the fuel ignites before reaching the spark plug, it can damage your engine.
Premium gas will not benefit cars with a regular engine because it will work the same as standard gas but is more expensive.
It will not clean your engine, lower your mileage, or improve the way that your car drives.
Is Premium Gas Worth It? Premium Gas vs. Regular Gas
There are a few key differences to consider when deciding between premium and regular gas.
As mentioned above, premium gas has higher octane levels than regular gas.
Higher octane fuel allows the premium gas to withstand higher compression rates than regular gas.
The octane levels of regular gas are usually in the 87-90 range.
Premium gas octane ratings are typically above 90.
You can check the fuel’s octane level at the gas pump, where it should be listed on or above the nozzle.
Premium gas is more expensive than regular gas.
While the price difference fluctuates with general price changes, premium gas can cost 50 cents more per gallon than standard gas.
The price difference is usually significant, so you probably shouldn’t purchase premium gas unless your car requires it.
Premium Gas vs. Top Tier Gas
Premium gas is “premium” because of its higher octane levels.
Top Tier gas is “top tier” because it prevents carbon build-up in your engine.
Gas of all octane ratings and grades can earn a Top Tier label.
If you hear your engine knock or rattle, this could signify carbon build-up in the engine.
Ignoring a knocking sound in your engine can lead to other issues with the car, such as with your pistons or other parts of the ignition system.
If this is happening to you, consider looking into Top Tier gas retailers.
Top Tier Standards
Top Tier fuel meets a higher level of standards than that required by the government.
Fuel retailers can earn a Top Tier label for their products by including additives and filtration techniques that improve the quality of the fuel.
Top Tier fuel differs from regular fuel in the following ways:
- Includes detergent that reduces fuel injector deposits
- Increased lubricity
- Better fuel stability
- Less water and particulate contamination
These standards allow consumers to purchase top-tier fuel to reduce carbon build-up and know that they are putting high-quality gasoline into their vehicles.
Top Tier gas is an excellent option if you want to clear the carbon build-up from your engine.
Top Tier gas costs (on average) 3 cents more per gallon than other options.
You can find Top Tier gas at many retail locations around the country.
However, Top Tier diesel is more challenging to find.
If you are looking for Top Tier diesel, research online before going to the gas station to ensure they have what you need.
When Should You Buy Premium Gas?
You should buy premium gasoline if you drive a high-performing vehicle with an engine that requires premium gas.
As mentioned above, purchasing premium gas for a car that runs well on regular gas is usually a waste of money.
When Premium Gas is Required vs. Recommended
If your car requires premium gas, you should only use premium gas for optimal results and to prolong your engine’s life.
Your vehicle will “require” premium if the manufacturer determines that regular gas is not stable enough for the engine inside.
Some vehicle manufacturers will “recommend” premium.
In this case, you can use premium if you want, but some studies show that premium gas isn’t worth it in this situation.
A manufacturer runs tests at an automotive research center to determine if premium fuel is required for better engine performance.
You can easily find out by looking at the sticker on the inside of your gas cap.
It will tell you if premium fuel is recommended, required, or if you can just stick with regular 87 octane gas.
Why Do Some Cars Need Premium Fuel?
Cars that have high-performance engines will require high octane gas to run efficiently.
The high octane level gives the gasoline a higher compression ratio, meaning that it can withstand the increased pressure of a high-performing engine.
List of Cars that Need Premium Gas
In the past, most cars that required premium gas were luxury cars, especially those expected to perform at higher horsepower.
Today, many cars need premium gas that you might not expect.
These 2022 models all require premium fuel:
- Buick Regal & Envision
- Chevy Equinox and Malibu
- GMC Terrain
- Mini Cooper
- Nissan Maxima
- VW Arteon
- Honda Civic
- Fiat 500L
In addition to the models listed above, you can expect most luxury vehicles (especially performance models) to require premium gas.
Be sure to check the fuel requirements of any vehicle before you make a purchase.
The difference in gas prices can result in unexpected costs if you are unaware of what type of fuel you need to purchase.
What Happens if You Don’t Buy Premium Gas for a Car that Requires It?
If you do not use premium gas in a car that requires it, you can expect to see negative consequences for your engine and fuel economy.
Regular gas can explode unexpectedly in an engine designed for premium fuel.
This can harm the engine, resulting in corrosion and in engine knocking.
Engine knocking can lead to further damage in the car, specifically to the ignition system and its parts.
Using regular in an engine that needs premium will also hurt your fuel economy and lower your gas mileage.
The engine is built for premium gasoline, so you will need to buy premium if you want your vehicle to run as the manufacturer intended.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether or not your vehicle requires premium gas is a common question among drivers.
Still, it is one of many frequently asked questions about this subject.
Is Premium Gas Better for Your Car?
Premium gas is better for your car if your car manufacturer requires premium gas to run.
You can find this information on the sticker inside your gas cap.
If it says “required,” then premium fuel is better for your car.
If your sticker does not say “required,” then premium is not better for your car, so you can use regular gas.
Does Premium Gas Clean Your Engine?
Premium gas does not clean your engine.
This is a popular rumor because premium gas previously contained more detergents and other additives.
Today, all grades are pretty similar, so you shouldn’t expect premium gas to clean your engine.
If you are looking for a gas that will clean the carbon deposits from your engine, find a retailer that sells Top Tier gas.
This slightly more expensive fuel will clean your engine as you use it (see above section for more information).
Is Premium Gas Better for the Environment?
Premium gas is better for the environment.
High octane gas burns more cleanly than regular gas, so it will have less of a negative impact on the environment.
It also has less odor.
That being said, using premium gas in cars that do not require it will not improve gas mileage nor lower pollution rates.
Does Premium Gas Last Longer?
Premium gas does not last longer than regular gas.
In a car that does not need premium, it will not impact your mileage or last longer.
However, if your car requires premium gas, it will help you get better gas mileage and better fuel economy.
If Your Car Recommends Regular Gas, Is It Okay to Use Premium Occasionally?
It is okay for you to use premium gas even if it is not required, but it will not benefit you.
It will not hurt your car, but it will not help you either.
The most significant impact will be on your wallet because premium gas costs more than regular gas.
Uber Drivers and Premium Gas
Uber does not cover the cost of gas or maintenance of its drivers’ vehicles, and they will not raise their prices as gas prices increase.
This means that Uber drivers with cars that require premium will need to be prepared to spend a little more to fill up their cars with premium fuel.
There are some ways that Uber drivers can save money on gas, such as signing up for the Partner Fuel Card.
This charge card allows you to purchase gas and then deduct it from your weekly earnings.
You can also save 15% at participating gas stations.
If you drive more than 100 miles a month for Uber, you can request this card here.
Some vehicles require premium fuel to run correctly, so make sure that you know if your car is one of them.
If the sticker on your gas cap says that premium fuel is required, you will need to put premium in the vehicle to avoid issues with your engine and gas mileage.
If your car does not require premium fuel, buying premium is a waste of money.
If you are looking for a fuel that will clean your engine, opt for the appropriate grade with a Top Tier label.