When it comes to gas for your car, you’ll find many brands and multiple octane ratings to choose from at the pump. Despite the conflicting advice, it matters what gas you put in your car, and there’s more to consider than just cost. Before you drive around Los Angeles searching for cheap fuel, check out our tips on the best gas for cars.

What’s With the Octane Numbers?

Octane ratings measure fuel stability — how resistant the fuel sample is to spontaneous combustion. A higher octane equals a more stable fuel. 

Less stable fuels — especially in high-compression engines — can cause pre-ignition and engine knock. With pre-ignition, the air/fuel mixture and hotspots in the cylinder ignite before the spark plug fires. 

Engine knock happens when the combustion in a four-stroke cycle peaks at a suboptimal time. Engine knock often follows pre-ignition. These two engine events may have inconsequential results for thousands of miles, or destroy your engine in seconds. Although pre-ignition is bad for engines, some modern engines can detect pre-ignition and re-calibrate themselves to avoid knocking.

Car manufacturers design most cars to run on regular fuel with an 87-octane rating. Check the manual to find out your car’s fuel needs. Adding a suboptimal fuel grade can reduce performance, fuel economy, and engine life. Adding a higher-octane fuel won’t cause any damage, but it costs more. 

When Premium Gas IS Worth It

Using premium gas can help avoid engine damage and maximize performance. Some automotive fuel brands add more detergent to gasoline than others. Detergent additives can protect the engine by preventing the buildup of carbon deposits. These deposits can damage fuel injectors and other engine components, lead to poor engine performance, and cause your vehicle to have a lower gas mileage.

Carbon deposits in the combustion chamber cause fuel to ignite prematurely. When this happens, you might hear knocking or pinging sounds. The deposits can also clog the intake valve, preventing them from operating normally.

When You CAN Save on Gas

Does gas quality matter? The beneficial additives in premium fuel clean out the gunk and may prolong the service life of your engine. Does gas brand matter? Many gasoline brands use the same suppliers, and a lesser-known name doesn’t mean the fuel is of poorer quality.

Ultimately, octane rating is more important than perceived gas station gas quality. That means cheaper gasoline at an independent gas station is safe if you’re short on cash or running close to empty.

It’s worth it to fill up with high-quality, premium gasoline at least once a month if you have an older vehicle, commute long distances daily, or often find yourself stuck in gridlock traffic on the 405 or Hollywood Freeway. 

Beyond the Pump

The type of gas matters, but maintenance matters more. Check your vehicle’s maintenance schedule requirements. While many components in a car can last a decade or longer, things like O-rings, gaskets, and filters have a specified service life. Replacing them before they fail can prevent bigger issues.

Even rotating your tires can improve fuel economy and the overall ride. Follow the service schedule to get the most out of your vehicle. 

Depending on your vehicle, there may be other requirements. If you have a diesel engine, as many modern high-efficiency vehicles do, regular gasoline can cause serious and expensive damage. Besides, diesel engines will not run on gasoline. For vehicles that use biodiesel fuel, there are various blends identified by the percentage of biodiesel compared to how much petroleum-based diesel is included.

The owner’s manual of a BD-capable car should note the percentage to use. Biodiesel also contains methanol. Depending on the formulation, the fuel may cause damage to rubber parts in the fuel system or be too thick for some fuel injectors. It’s therefore extremely important if you have an alternative engine to use exactly the right gas, or you risk causing serious damage.

Hawthorne Auto Square offers a comprehensive service contract for all makes and models. Call us today to learn more about our coverage, deductible, price, and exclusions.

Care for Your Vehicle To Extend the Service Life

Premium gas won’t make your car more powerful but can improve fuel economy and even help clean your engine. Sometimes, paying extra for Top Tier gas is worthwhile. However, regular gas from a lesser-known brand is fine for the average car.

To ensure optimal performance, prioritize regular maintenance and follow the recommendations in your vehicle’s manual.

Find Your Next Vehicle at Hawthorne Auto Square

Hawthorne Auto Square offers stress-free financing options with fast approval, regardless of credit and financial history. Contact us or visit our dealership today to value your trade, compare your options, and drive away in a low-mileage vehicle with low payments the same day.

Hawthorne Auto Square offers a large inventory of used cars, minivans, trucks, and SUVs, as well as a premium inventory of high-end vehicles. Visit our “buy here, pay here” dealership for help finding the vehicle you want and need.