When to Use Premium Fuel


If you'll forgive the 35-year-old pop-culture reference, there's a scene in 1978's "Superman: The Movie" where a motorist pulls up to the filling station and, asked by the attendant if he wants regular or premium, replies, "she hasn’t had a drink in a while, give her a tank of the good stuff." Don't try this at home, kids. The notion that putting premium fuel in your regular-fuel engine will do anything but empty your wallet is as dated as the Christopher Reeve movie's visual effects. Follow manufacturer instructions, and the link below, and you won't need Superman to save you — money, that is.

Premium Gas: Do I Have to Use it?

By Matt Schmitz | September 1, 2013 | Comments (12)



Round trips:
San Francisco - Los Angeles.
Fiat 131
Chrysler Imperial
Rover 2000
Mazda RX2
Volvo DL

At least one tank of Premium gas during trip.

No change in MPG.
Or worse MPG.


I use Premium fuel, with an Octane rating of 91 or higher, exclusive in all three of my vehicles; a 2008 Highlander 3.5-liter, a 2011 Tundra 5.7-liter and a 2012 Grand Cherokee 3.6-liter.

Mileage doesn't change, but the loss of power, the knocking and pinging have gone away with Premium.

And since the Engine Management Module no longer has to change the timing and retard the spark to prevent the knocking and pinging, I get the full engine power I require at an altitude of 4883 feet while driving in mountainous terrain, where I live.


I get 2 mpg more in my 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata with the recommended premium fuel. That was true in my 2005 Miata also.


My Silverado 5.3 pings bad in summer heat with anything less than 91 octane. Everything is computer controlled now so there isn't much I can do but the general maintenance. I've heard it's better to run the lowest octane rating in the winter months because it ignites easier than premium. I switch around for those two reasons. Not really for MPG's.


Steve, what several of my contractor friends are doing in my high altitude area is blending in some AVGAS 110/115 into the 91 octane gas, like 5 gallons of 110/115 and the remainder 90/91/92/93, whatever is sold in your area.

The ratio is not overly critical, just don't use all AVGAS.

Of course, you have to be able to find someone who will sell you AVGAS at an airport, if you don't have an airplane yourself.

But it works! I've done it myself when I still had my old clunkers.


You people need to get a life.


Thanks for the tip Highdesertcat. I'm not sure I can find some AV gas, but it would be interesting to see how the truck would run.


My car with the 2ZZ-GE engine requires premium fuel. Therefore I have little to no choice but to use that. Who knows what will happen if I decided to rev it to where the Lift kicks in...



I had a Matrix with that motor, lots of fun and from a roll it ran neck and neck to my buddies '04 R32. I do regret not having it any longer.

But this reminds me of the time people were blowing up engines in their Cadillac for running regular when GM required premium. Somehow people found it to be GM's fault even though they used the wrong grade of gas, saying the control module should have been more forgiving. I'd like to fill my tank with water, but hey...

I work at a car mechanic &body shop and the mechanics sometimes say that there is no "real" difference between regular, plus and supreme (except price, obviously). They tell me that Octane is vital when it comes to fuel's resistance to knocking, but there is no benefit unless the octane is higher than what the engine needs. However, I have experienced noticeable differences when driving with regular, plus and supreme. A van I once owned would back fire when I used regular. When pumped with supreme or plus, no knocking. Why does this happen? And, are the mechanics I work with correct?



Wait a second there...

About the Caddy issue...
We can't fix stupid...

On the other comment, the Matrix XRS sucks when launching from a dead stop...it works way better on the rolling start

John F. Sprague

When I was actively driving my 1965 Rover 2000 (single carburetor), every time they dropped the octane rating of premium, I had to have the carburetor readjusted to keep it from knocking. I never bought the low compression pistons (intended for Africa) as they would have dropped the horsepower from 90 to about 75. The later ex-Buick aluminum V-8 started with premium at 185 hp in the car and ended up with 135 hp on regular in the Range Rover.

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