Ah, the age-old question: should I fuel my car with the high-grade, premium gasoline or should I opt for the wallet-friendly regular grade fuel.

In the past when car drivers are at the pump, this question was often solved before it began.  Yet nowadays, drivers are being sent mixed messages.  This is important as if a car driver puts the wrong type of gas into a car, it may have a direct adverse effect on the car’s performance and cause a design defect in the engine, which could lead to a car accident. 

Our firm’s car accident attorneys call this improper car maintenance or even use of your car. For example, the car might stall out on a freeway or busy intersection.  Or, perhaps the car is unable to properly accelerate to its reasonable potential.  Another way this could occur, suppose you drive a car, truck, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle you are not familiar with.

So, we strongly recommend that before you drive off in an unfamiliar vehicle, you stop, pause and get the correct information about not just how to safely operate the vehicle, but something very simple, what type of gas does this car or other vehicle require to safely operate.

In the past, drivers would simply consult the car drivers’ bible — their owner’s manual — for this answer.  By flipping to page 37, for example, car drivers would see, “Required Fuel: Super Premium gasoline with an antiknock index (AKI) rating of 91.”  Viola, whenever they found themselves at a gas station, these drivers knew to fill up their car with premium-grade gas.

The problem today is that owner’s manual has been sending out mixed messages.  When drivers flip to page 37 now, they may find themselves confronted with two separate fuel-grade recommendations.

The following is Westways Magazine columnist’s BMW Mini Cooper owner’s manual gas recommendation.  “Required fuel: Super premium gasoline with an AKI rating of 91.  This gasoline is highly recommended.  However, you may also use gasoline with a lower rating.  The minimum AKI is 87.”

After reading that, how likely would you be to fill up your car’s tank with the premium grade?  Probably not very likely we would guess.  Here is some information about how car makers determine which type of fuel your car should be run on.

Your engine’s AKI, or “octane,” requirement has to do specifically with the engine-management systems on modern cars.  The octane rating refers to how quickly gas burns inside the engine’s combustion chambers and how easy it is to ignite.  If an engine has a higher octane rating, it burns gas slower; while if the fuel’s octane rating is too low, gas may prematurely ignite and cause the engine to “knock” or ping” and possibly create a severe amount of property damage to itself.

Car engines will compensate if you pump in gas with lower octane levels, but it compensates by decreasing your car’s acceleration and fuel efficiency.  Higher compression engines (high-end European and Asian cars) will run their best on premium-grade fuel.  If your manual only mentions premium-grade fuel, you had better fill your car up with it every time.

Conversely, if your car is designed to run on regular unleaded gas, filling it up with premium fuel is only a waste of money.  Those engine-management systems will not know what to do with the extra octane and will only waste it.  In today’s economy, it is not a good idea to be wasting money on gas.

If you find yourself caught between premium and regular then you should calculate the difference in your own car’s fuel economy between the different grades.  If the miles-per-gallon (mpg) difference is below 2 mpg, then experts say that you should go with the regular.  On the other hand, if there is a difference of 2 mpg or more, you will likely save more money with a higher grade.

Our firm’s car accident attorney’s recommend that you take the time for common sense directions can prevent car accidents!  Car safety and preventing personal injury are always our top priority, so why not go with the safest option when at the pumps?

If you were injured and believe that you deserve compensation, then call our bilingual law offices right away at 1-858-551-2090 or click here for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney and find out how we can help you.  We look forward to providing good advice for your case.  There is no fee if no recovery.