How Does Downgrading on Fuel Affect Your Car?

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

August 25, 2005

With gas prices at an all time high, just about everyone is looking for a way to save a buck. Many people are downgrading from high-octane fuel to the cheaper low-octane version, but how does the switch affect your car?

Cliff Pelzer's wife drives a Jaguar which takes high octane fuel, but lately she's had to cheat and drop from supreme at $2.67 to regular at $2.47.

"We're constantly battling, what do we do, pay the money? She's got to get to work. Or do we ruin the car?" said Pelzer.

Traveling salesman James Brown is also feeling the pinch. The cost to fill up his minivan is $45.29 and that's using regular. Supreme would have cost nearly $4.00 more.

"We should run be running premium gas in the car I'm driving, but just because of the cost we're going with the regular gas," said Brown.

That is what seems to be the case for many drivers who are just trying to save a buck, but the question is, is it really worth it?

"From the performance cars, they do recommend using the higher octane fuel," explained Allen Toms.

Toms, owner of Forest Lakes Auto, says drivers of high performance cars who switch from supreme to regular gas may notice only minor changes in their car.

"The lower octane fuels actually burn a little bit quicker, which can cause the pinging and the noise and everything," said Toms.

But Toms says the noise is just that, noise, so contrary to what most people think, your engine is not in danger.

"It's not going to hurt them if they downgrade at all. They should be fine going with the lower-octane fuels," said Toms.

That's one less reason to feel guilty for giving in to your wallet rather than your car.

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