Car Gas Experiment: Regular or Premium?

We all know that gas is expensive and we also know most of the basic tips/tricks thats out there to save money on gas. Things like:

  • Taking off slowly from stops
  • Keeping your tires inflated at its recommend pressure
  • Changing your air filters from time to time
  • and driving at a consistent speed

are all good tips but it wasn’t enough for me. I still wanted to know more. A while back a good friend of mine told me that premium gas gets you better gas millage. He said that although it costs a little more, in the end he gets 80-90 miles more than using premium and it out weights the cost. So just out of curiosity, I did the math just to see what he was talking about.

If premium is running at $2.99 and his tank fills up at 12 gallons, then it would cost him $35.88 to fill his tank. If regular is going at $2.69 per gallon, a full tank would cost him $32.28. So it only costs him $3.60 to go from regular to premium and getting an additional 80-90 miles. I was thinking, wow thats awesome. I need to start buying premium! At this point I was really excited.

So I decided to give it a try. My car usually gets somewhere around 350-375 miles per tank(I drive mostly highway) using regular. After a month of using premium, which is about 4 full tanks, I was done with my experiment. I have to say I was quite disappointed, my car did not have any effect what so ever using premium. I was still getting my usual 350-375 miles each time before having to fill up.

I told my friend about my little experiment and how it had no effect on my car going from regular to premium. We were both puzzled at first but then we came to the conclusion that maybe it was because he was driving an older car. He drives the same make and model as me but 11 years older(1992 Honda Civic).

Although my experiment didn’t necessary help me any, I thought I share it with my readers. If you drive an older vehicle and want to do a little experiment go for it, it only costs you about 4 bucks to see if you can possibly get an extra 80-90 miles in your car. I think its definitely worth trying. Even if you drive a newer vehicle, still doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Go ahead and try it the next time you go to the gas station and let me know how it goes. You can email me your results at moneywalks(at)gmail(dot)com, I’d love to hear your story. Also make sure before you try this that your car can take premium, I’ve ran into some cars that can only take regular.

Happy driving :)

[photo credit]

Leave a comment ?


  1. That is one HUGE gas can in your RSS feed.

    fyi i go with standard.

  2. Carnival of Personal Finance #119 - Blunt Money - pingback on September 24, 2007 at 4:58 am
  3. Of course, premium gasoline cannot possibly increase fuel efficiency. Premium has a *lower* fuel density than regular, required for high-compression engines.

    Your friend is either a liar or bad at math.

  4. The Virtual Handshake Blog | » Carnival of the Capitalists 9-24-2007 - pingback on September 25, 2007 at 1:06 am
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  7. Great article. We have developed an excel spreadsheet for comparing the fuel economy and subsequent costs comparing petrol and diesel. Really handy

  8. I had a Honda that had well over 200,000 miles on it. Whenever I used regular grade gasoline it did not run well at all.

    This obviously resulted in the engine having to work harder to keep the car mobile, which resulted in burning more fuel.

    So I switched to premium gasoline and discovred that that was one of the best decisions that I had made for that car!

    I would say that if you have a car that has less than 100,000 miles then there is no need to use premium gasoline, but anything over that would certainly warrant its use.

  9. Using premium in all cars, new and old, keeps the engine running better. New cars may not benifit in more mileage but it does under the hood. Paying the extra $ in my veiw is worth it for every car or truck.

  10. You should definitely read the owners manual or talk to a Honda mechanic before you do your experiments. Newer Hondas(past 2000) are made to run on lower octane fuel. That is why you did not see any more mileage. Also, premium can actually mess with and knock a newer Hondas since it is tuned for lower octane. Ask any Honda mechanic or dealer and they will inform you of this.

  11. I have done my own experimenting with regular vs. premium gas on four differen’t model cars, including a high performance BMW 540i V8 which recommends hi-octane gas only.

    Not only was there no difference in my gas mileage, but no discernable improvement in performance with more expensive premium gas. I’ve found that those who think they require premium gas have never really made much of an effort to compare the two.

    Monthly Car Lease

  12. Maybe for a high performance turbo engine, premium makes a performance difference, but it is virtually a waste of money in any other car.

    My 1997 540i V8 BMW was born and raised on regular gas and it has 144,000 miles on it and is running strong. It will blow the doors off of just about any car on the road regardless of what kind of gas is in it. And at 144,000 miles, I’d say the engine has held up pretty well.

    • Just purchased(06/10) a 1997 BMW 540i w 66K miles that was in storage. new tires(winter), tune up, a few updates, and its ready to go. It has run great and I baby it. I am going into my first winter in Nebraska and am wondering if you drove it in snow? sandbags? The tires are top of the line snow tires but I worry about the rear wheel drive.

      Anything else about the car you could tell me would be great.
      Peter 4023503890

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