Fuel consumption: Feeding your car for maximum performance

If you're in the habit of rolling up to the gas pump on fumes and filling the tank with premium gas,...

If you're in the habit of rolling up to the gas pump on fumes and filling the tank with premium gas, it's time for a little automobile 411. Your car's fuel consumption of premium or regular gas determines the car's performance--not fuel efficiency.

Premium vs. regular
So, what is the difference between premium and regular grades of gasoline? Not as much as you'd like to think. According to the Scientific American's article, "Fact or Fiction?: Premium Gasoline Delivers Premium Benefits to Your Car," the higher the gasoline's octane rating (which gives it the premium status), the less likely your engine will knock and vibrate. However, most newer cars are designed to accommodate lower octane fuels during the combustion process, so knocking isn't a problem anyway.

Fancy sports cars or luxury vehicles have high-performance engines that process fuel slightly differently than economy cars. Luxury vehicles have a smoother start-up sound when filled with premium gasoline, according to the article. So to avoid a clunking sound in your sports car, stick to premium fuel.

Getting maximum performance
After devising and conducting a fuel test with a variety of high-end luxury automobiles and everyday economy cars, the experts at Car and Driver Magazine conclude it really doesn't matter what type of gasoline you put in your car. Your car will operate on either regular or premium.

But, what about performance?

The high-end BMW and Saab used in the experiment were less powerful when fueled with regular gas. The lesson? Stick to premium gas when you want your car to operate at its maximum performance, according to the article. High-compression engines designed to run on premium fuel will operate more effectively on the higher-grade gas. This means less knocks, pings, rattles and a smoother rev of the engine. These findings are inline with Scientific American's advice: premium fuel is best for premium vehicles.

Senior Consumer Advice Editor at Edmunds, Phillip Reed states in his article, "To Save Money on Gas, Stop Buying Premium," that vehicles running on regular fuel may notice a little less get-up and go than those consuming premium gas, to the tune of being a mere 1/2 second slower when accelerating from zero to 60 mph.

And the results are...
Since the differences between using regular and premium fuel are minimal, the take-away is this: use premium gasoline in high-end vehicles and regular in everything else. If you notice lots of knocks and pings when starting up your car, switch to premium fuel.

Visit an auto repair technician in Atlanta to learn what fuel is best for your car, ways to decrease fuel consumption and increase fuel economy.

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