Does Premium Gas Last Longer? Answering Common Fuel Questions

We've all seen it at one point or another when we pull up to the pump: regular, plus, and premium gasoline options. For most of us, the difference in price is more than enough to make us hit the "Regular" option without any hesitation. But what is it about those other choices that make them cost the extra twenty to fifty cents at the pump?

The Low Down on Premium Gas

The difference between the grades of gasoline comes down to one major factor: octane ratings.

Regular gasoline meets the standard of 87-octane, while plus and premium options have higher concentrations. Usually, you'll find gas at 89, 91, or 93-octane when it's in the higher ratings, though the different states have their regulations on what levels they allow sold at "plus" and "premium" rates.

So, what makes the octane rate matter? This rating determines how likely it is for engine combustion to occur at the wrong time, which can be a potential hazard in some vehicles. Any gasoline at 87-octane is safe by EPA standards, but higher-grade levels of gas have a much less likely chance of this occurring, which can cause pre-ignition, also known as engine knock.

For most modern vehicles, they have installed sensors which can prevent engine knock, so this is much less of a risk than it was before. And yet higher-octane gasoline is still available, and many manufacturers will recommend the use of premium fuel on certain vehicles to help bring out their full potential.

For these vehicles, they will still operate fine on regular gasoline without any real consequences (other than not being to operate your vehicle at its maximum potential). You don't have to worry about voiding your warranty or damaging your engine.

The Costs of Premium Gas

The higher-octane rating is what makes premium gas cost more than the standard gasoline available. Again, the range of these costs will vary depending on where you are, but the upcharge between 87-octane and 93-octane can be as broad as twenty to fifty cents. In some places, the gaps may be more significant, but you can usually expect prices to fall into this area.

If you regularly refill your tank with premium gasoline, it can easily equal to hundreds of dollars a year, even if the cost per trip is only a few extra dollars. Because of this extra cost, you should consider the difference when budgeting along with new car prices.

Companies that Meet EPA Premium Gas Standards

Gasoline must first meet EPA standards before it can be sold as premium gasoline. Retailers that meet these standards for their premium gas include:

  • 76
  • Aloha Petroleum
  • Chevron
  • Conoco
  • CountryMark
  • Entec Stations
  • Esso
  • Exxon
  • Kwik Trip
  • MFA Oil Co.
  • Mileage Stations
  • Mobil
  • US Oil
  • Phillps 66
  • QuickTrip
  • Rebel Oil
  • Road Ranger
  • Severson Oil
  • Shell
  • Texaco
  • Tri-Par Oil Co.
  • Turkey Hill Minit Markets

Myths About Premium Gas

There are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to premium gasoline.

Premium Gas Offers Better Performance

This myth is half right and half wrong. In most vehicles, using standard gas provides the same level of performance that you'd find with premium gasoline. It's only with specific vehicles and engine types that you'll see any apparent difference between the two.

You Need to Use Premium Gas if It's in Your Car Manual

This myth is another circumstantial one. On some of their vehicles, many manufacturers—GMC, Ram trucks, the works—will note in the manual that they recommend or require the use of premium in the car in question. It's the distinction between these two words that matters.

When the manual recommends the use of premium gas, you'll see some benefits, but it won't harm your vehicle to use standard gas. In this case, it won't void your warranty, either. For these vehicles, premium gasoline can potentially boost its performance.

However, if the manual requires the use of premium fuel, that means the engine does need higher octane levels to function correctly. With these vehicles, using conventional fuel can potentially damage the engine—and your warranty won't cover these damages.

When you purchase a new or used auto, be sure to read your manual carefully to select the best option. If there isn't a requirement, save yourself the money.

Premium Gas Lasts Longer

So does premium gas last longer? For many, this seems to be a draw of using the presumably higher quality fuel. After all, who doesn't want to make fewer trips to the gas station?

Sadly, there's nothing in premium gasoline that would make it last longer than other fuels from the pump. Since the distinguishing feature is the higher-octane levels, the only real benefit you gain is lowering the chance of engine knocking, which isn't much of a threat on most modern fuel systems.

Premium Gas Cleans Your Engine

Much like the possibility of lasting longer, this myth is also false. Most engines are efficient at cleaning out residue. If you're concerned about the cleanliness of your vehicle's parts, you're in better shape keeping up with regular maintenance checks