Gasoline Grades: What Do they Mean to You?


When it comes to gasoline, EVERYONE has an opinion these days. Simply saying the word can spark a conversation about large oil companies, how we’re being “scammed” at the pump, or the overall state of the global economy. But, none of these conversations can help you understand what it means when you see gasoline grades. What do they mean? Does it really matter which choice you make when filling up?

To help clear up the matter, we’re going to take an in-depth look at the grading process for gasoline, what it really means to your vehicle, and probably most importantly, how it impact your wallet!

Why is Gasoline Graded?

In the United States, we see three gasoline ratings when filling up: 87, 89, and 92. These Octane ratings represent the amount of compression the fuel can handle before combusting. The higher the octane rating, the higher the level of engine performance…in most cases.

On a global scale, octane ratings vary. Some nations see ratings as high as 98, 99, and even 100! As fuel research continues, and consumer demand exponentially increases for great fuel efficiency, the notations we are familiar with in the United States will likely shift in time. But, for now, we’ll continue to see the same 3 number designations.

Here are a few resources to help clarify gasoline grades and octane ratings:

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howthingswork/a/aa070401a.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfhTTuxF6Mk

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0210-paying-premium-high-octane-gasoline

What a Gasoline Grade Means to You

For most consumers, a higher octane rating simply means higher prices per gallon. For the most part, this is actually the RIGHT way to look at things. However, your vehicle’s manufacturer may have information about your engine that changes your mind about the fuel that you use. Some engines do require higher grade fuel, so you’ll want to acquaint yourself with the specific requirements of your particular vehicle.

But, for most of the driving population, your vehicle will perform just fine with standard 87 grade gasoline. Why? Well, because a large majority of the vehicles sold are not performance vehicles. In other words, your 1995 Nissan Altima won’t be blasting anyone away on the freeway, so why bother with performance fuel?

Here is some information about consumers and gasoline grades:

http://mn.gov/commerce/weights-and-measures/images/OctaneFacts.pdf

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/01/paying-for-premium-gas-can-be-a-waste-of-money/index.htm

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/regular_vs_premium.html

Gasoline Myths

As we mentioned before, everyone has an opinion when it comes to gasoline. This means that you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time deciphering the myths from the realities. Fortunately, we’re here to help you determine which information is factual, and which should be cast aside.

So, before you head to the pump for your next fill up, be sure that you check out the following resources – they may save you some big bucks:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-premium-g

http://forum.ih8mud.com/80-series-tech/160442-high-octane-fuel-vs-low-octane-fuel-facts-myths.html

http://autos.yahoo.com/news/7-ways-to-save-on-gasoline.html

If you’re a visual learner, check out this great video from Expert Village that outlines fuel grades quite well:


Written by: Go-Parts | Sean Kennedy | Email |