How to Choose the Right Fuel for Your Car

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To choose the right fuel for a car, look for the sticker on the inside frame of the driver's door for recommended fuel grades, and listen for unusual sounds from the engine to determine if the gas used is acceptable. Pay attention to a vehicle's performance to choose the right fuel grade with instructions from an ASE-certified technician in this free video on cars.

Part of the Video Series: Driving Lessons & Tire Care
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Video Transcript

All right, in this clip we're going to talk about how to determine what grade of gasoline is recommended or can be used in your vehicle. It's important to know that, realistically, you can put any grade of gasoline you want in an engine, and it will run, and typically, it will run okay. But there's a couple of things that you can do as a consumer and watch out for to know that you're using the right gasoline for your vehicle. So most people know this already, but at a pump, there's usually three different octane ratings available; supreme, which is usually in ninety two, but depending on what area you're living in. Plus, which is eighty nine, and regular which is usually eighty seven octane. To explain real fast, an octane rating is actually a rating for how combustible or how volatile a fuel is. So, at what point does the vehicle...or does the fuel get squeezed to a point where it will ignite on it's own without a spark? Ninety two is harder to ignite than eighty seven. So that's kind of the difference. You squeeze ninety two enough, and it usually won't ignite on your own, but if you squeeze eighty seven enough, it will. And that's important in high compression engines, or forced induction engines. Engines with superchargers. Engines with turbochargers. Or, muscle cars, high compression engines, usually going to have to go with a ninety two. What you're avoiding by using these three grade ratings is what's called pre-detonation or pre-ignition, or 'ping'. Ping sounds like a tin can full of rocks. On hard acceleration or moving up hill, you're going to hear essentially what sounds like a tin can full of rocks in your engine, and that's a ping. To avoid that, or if you start hearing that, you're going to want to bump up the octane that you're using. Now, for most consumers, if you're confused or you want to know what your manufacturer recommends, if you open your fuel door, there should be a sticker on the inside of the fuel door that will tell you what grade of gasoline you should be using. But if you want to shave some bucks, not necessarily go with the highest stuff that's recommended, you can go down a grade or possibly two in gasoline, as long as you don't hear any sort of pinging or pre-detonation going on, you're usually fine. You may suffer a little performance, a very slight decrease in gas mileage. But for the most part, if you're going to save, five, six cents for a gallon of gasoline, you're usually better off going with a grade, possibly two lower. You just want to watch out for that pre-detonation.


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