Making the (Octane) Grade

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Most car owners in Humboldt County probably don’t put too much thought into what grade of gas they’ll use when they head to the pump – they usually just select whichever type of fuel is the cheapest.

While the least expensive grade is usually the most appealing choice to consumers for obvious reasons, it’s not always the best option for every make/model of vehicle.

The numbers on a given gas pump represent the corresponding fuel’s ability to compress within an engine. The higher a number, the higher its resistance to the compression-ignition process and the more energy it can produce.

Typically, higher performance vehicles will require a fuel with a higher-octane grade (BMWs for example). If you use a grade of fuel that is too low (check your vehicle manual to be sure), you’ll notice a distinct knocking sound in tour gas tank while driving.

Driving around with the wrong grade of fuel can potentially cause damage to your ignition system and lead to improper combustion within your cylinders which is problematic to say the least. You should consult a professional auto repair expert if you encounter this issue.

Using higher-grade fuel than you need to, on the other hand, won’t increase your vehicle’s power as that is derived from the engine as opposed to the gas but it won’t have the negative impact that using too low of an octane would, but you should still stick to the recommended grade when filling up your tank.

In some situations, your vehicle’s needs may change as it gets older as carbon deposits within your cylinders expand and alter your vehicle’s combustion ratio and lead to your having to use a higher-octane grade. You’ll hear a knocking sound if/when this starts to occur but if you keep your vehicle in good shape by having maintenance performed on it regularly you should never encounter this phenomenon.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s fuel needs, be sure call our team of ASE-certified technicians at 707.725.6321!