Best Gas For Your Car
These days, pulling up to the gas tank and fueling your car isn’t as simple as it once was. Instead, you’re faced with several different gas options, all at different prices. For many, it’s tempting to choose the lowest-priced gas and call it a day. Is that really the smartest choice? Ultimately, that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself, but it’s a decision you should make with all the facts in mind.
What You Need to Know about Octane Ratings
First, understand that all gas sold in the United States comes with an octane rating. This is a measurement that lets you know how stable or not-so-stable the fuel is.
Regular gas, which is one of the most common types of gas purchased, tends to have a lower octane rating, typically around 87, than premium gas. This gas is most often classed at 91 to 93. When your vehicle calls for it, premium gas is typically your better option. That’s because it can handle higher compression without detonating or losing stability, which can protect your engine. However, premium gas is not necessarily needed or recommended in all situations. As you’ll see below, it all depends on your specific car and its requirements.
Additionally, diesel and flex fuel are increasingly common choices for today’s buyers. Diesel can only work on vehicles that are equipped with diesel engines, but more and more car manufacturers are creating diesel vehicles for everyday users. These types of engines tend to work best for people who frequently travel on the highway since they are very efficient at highway travel. Over time, this efficiency can save a lot of money. Even better yet, diesel engines often outlast standard gasoline engines, which also promotes long-term savings.
Like diesel, flex fuel does require a vehicle to be equipped with a specific type of engine. In this case, an internal combustion engine that can work with more than one type of fuel is needed. For suitable vehicles, flex fuel is a great choice, both for the environment and overall performance. Drivers may even be able to enjoy tax credits by choosing flex fuel. With so many options, making the right choice can be difficult, but the guide below should help.
The Importance of the Owner’s Manual
Despite the fact that some gas is inherently better than other gas, a vehicle cannot necessarily take all types of gas. In some cases, it can only take one type of fuel and using any other would be dangerous. In others, it can take various types but does have a preferred fueling method.
Your car will likely have a preference among the following:
As such, you should familiarize yourself with your owner’s manual and its recommendations and follow them above all else.
Should You Spring for Premium Gas?
What should you do in cases where your car can take premium gas, but it can also take regular gas? That’s ultimately up to you, but experts say that there are no major benefits to opting for premium over regular unless your car’s owner’s manual specifically recommends using premium. You’ll simply be paying more for something your vehicle doesn’t necessarily need.
The Altitude Exception
With all that has been said so far, know that outside factors can affect your fuel. For example, in high altitudes, your car may actually function better if you use a gas with a lower-than-regular octane rating of 85. This is because of the altitude’s impact on how your car uses gas.
Of course, this rule of thumb does not apply to all vehicles. It most commonly impacts older vehicles that do not have altitude regulating systems in place. So, before you switch to that lower octane gas to help your vehicle (and your wallet), make sure the altitude is actually having an effect.
While people tend to care a lot about octane levels, they are not necessarily the most important feature of your fuel. Instead, what you should be paying attention to are the detergent additives the fuel contains. These are imperative for keeping your engine clean and can actually have a major impact on engine performance.
When possible, consider choosing gasoline designated as Top Tier fuel. It has a lot of quality detergent additives in order to boost your engine’s power and performance.
What Really Matters
As you can see, the fuel you use doesn’t matter quite so much as ensuring that it is the right fuel for your particular vehicle. With that said, there are plenty of things you can do to get the most out of your gas. This is true no matter which type of gas you use
Fuel Up at the Right Time
You might not think that the time of day or the temperature has anything to do with gasoline. But, you would be mistaken. Amazingly, gas tends to be more dense when the weather outside is cooler. Thus, you can often get more “bang for your buck” by fueling up in the early morning or late evening. Any time when it’s not too hot outside is one of the better times to fuel up your vehicle.
Don’t Go Too Fast
Are you a speed demon on the road? If so, slow your roll! Not only will it keep you and others safer, but it might just help you to get better gas mileage. Research shows that fuel efficiency decreases the faster you go. Thus, by slowing down whenever possible, you can enjoy more use out of each gallon of gas that you pump.
Often, people get into the habit of starting up their cars and letting them run for a few minutes before taking off. This is particularly common on cold mornings. You may want to be warm and toasty in your car, but is that really worth all the fuel you’ll waste? If you think not, bundle up and stop running your engine unnecessarily.
Speeding and sitting may be bad for your car, but so is reckless, unsafe driving. Plus, it’s bad for you and other passengers too. If you’re in the habit of following other cars too closely, get out of it. Hard braking should be avoided at all costs. Not only is it dangerous, but it can do some major damage to your fuel efficiency as well.
Don’t Be Neglectful
Your car is a lot like your body. If you take care of your body with proper food, rest, and exercise, you will feel and function at your very best. Neglect it, however, and you will suffer the consequences. Similarly, if you don’t take care of your car, you can expect gas mileage (and more!) to suffer. As such, get your vehicle set up on a regular schedule of inspections and tune-ups. That way, it will function at its best, both in terms of fuel efficiency and overall.
Make the Most of Cruise Control
If your vehicle is equipped with cruise control, use it, especially if you’re driving down the highway. This is a great way to maintain consistent speed, which is better for your vehicle and your gas mileage. If you don’t have cruise control, consider having it installed. The cost will be well worth it when you consider what you’re likely to save in fuel.
Stop with the Snow Tires
Snow tires are very necessary . . . if you’re actually driving through snowy weather. If you’re not, take those snow tires off. Many drivers get into the lazy habit of leaving them on longer than they should. Unfortunately, these deep tires can take a toll on your mileage. Take the snow tires off as soon as possible and then keep your regular tires in good shape.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to fuel. For best results, use the fuel your car was intended to use. Additionally, try following these helpful tips. Chances are that you will see a big improvement in your mileage and a nice decrease in your fuel costs.