Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Doyle asks: Is Top Tier fuel worth the few cents/gallon extra that it normally requires to purchase it?
My reply: By “top tier,” I’m assuming you mean premium unleaded – and name-brand – gas. The answer is . . . it depends.
It depends, first of all, on whether the engine in your car was designed to deliver its maximum power (and mileage) by burning high-octane gasoline. Engines with high compression or turbo-supercharging have higher cylinder pressure – which is good for making horsepower and making the most of the fuel, which is good for fuel economy. But high cylinder pressure requires gas that resists spontaneous/uncontrolled burning caused by the higher heat and pressure inside a cylinder with high cylinder pressure. High-octane gas is simply gas that has a lower tendency to burn before the spark causes it to ignite.
It does not – as such – mean it is “higher quality” gas.
Unless it has a superior additive package; but it is usually the case that a given brand’s gasoline will have the same additive package across the range of octanes – and there is no advantage to be gained by using high octane “premium” in an engine not designed to take advantage of it.
But, there is an advantage in using “top tier” – i.e., name-brand gasoline, irrespective of the octane rating – because that gas is likely to have a superior additive package vs. the no-name/generic-brand gas.
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