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The octane rating is a measurement that accounts for the resistance of fuel detonating prematurely during combustion in the engine. In the United States, unleaded gasoline normally has an octane rating of 87 (regular), 88-90 (mid-grade), and 91-94 (premium). If you live in a high elevation area like Colorado, gasoline is sold with a rating of 85 and above. You can note the rating on the gas station pump, usually displayed prominently in bold letters. The following are five answers to common questions you may have about octane rating.

Should I use high octane fuel?

Whether you use high octane fuel or not depends on your vehicle. If the manufacturer recommends you use midgrade or premium product, it is best to use those. You should consult your owner’s manual to confirm your vehicle’s recommended specifications. Usually, the cost increase in premium is higher than the fuel economy savings you will make. However, using high octane may extend the life of your engine and reduce maintenance costs.

Manufacturers recommend higher octane fuel for vehicles that have a higher engine compression ratio or use a turbocharger or supercharger. These force more air into the engine, which produces a faster car. When the engine increases pressure, it can extract more energy from the gasoline. The higher air mixture means you need a higher octane rating to ensure the fuel detonates at the proper moment to maximize energy capacity.

Will lower octane fuel damage my engine?

Using fuel with lower octane ratings can result in poor performance and can damage the emissions control system or engine over your vehicle’s life. If your car needs a higher octane fuel and you use a lower rated fuel, it could void your vehicle’s warranty as well.

In older cars, you may hear a knocking or pinging noise, which indicates premature explosions. Some newer vehicles can adjust for the premature explosions by adjusting spark timing. However, fuel economy and engine power will still operate at lower efficiencies.

If I use a higher-octane fuel, will it increase performance or fuel economy?

The answer to this question depends on your vehicle. For many vehicles, higher octane products can improve fuel economy and performance over time. Additionally, using higher octane fuels reduces carbon dioxide emission if your vehicle is engaged in heavy-duty use like towing a boat or trailer. However, in regular working conditions, you will not notice a measurable improvement in most situations. It is also more expensive to produce higher octane fuel, so the price you pay me be higher.

Can I use 85 octane in my vehicle?

The 85-rated gas is made for specific high elevation areas only. This fuel is allowed in high-elevation areas where the barometric pressure is lower, resulting in lower temperatures for combustion. The lower rated fuel could be tolerated by engines that use carburetors. However, modern engines cannot tolerate the lower octane-rated products as easily as older cars. It is not recommended that you use 85-rated fuel if you drive a modern car. You should use the rating recommended by your manufacturer, which can be found in your owner’s manual.

Does ethanol increase octane rating?

Yes, the octane rating of ethanol is much higher than gasoline, so mixing it into fuel increases octane. Most refiners will blend ethanol with gasoline to increase its rating, which accounts for some of the higher prices. Most gasoline used in the United States is composed of at least 10 percent ethanol. Some blends work with up to 15 percent and can be used in modern cars.

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If you would like to purchase bulk fuel, or learn more about our Products and Services, contact the professionals at Kendrick Oil today. You can call us at (800) 299-3991 or Contact Us by email. We carry low-grade, medium, and premium fuels throughout the United States including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.