Regular vs. Premium: Does Gasoline Matter?

As a driver, you’ve heard the terms regular gasoline and premium gasoline. You know what kind you are supposed to put in your car to keep it running, and you may even know that premium is usually more expensive than regular gasoline. But does your knowledge go any farther than that? It should.

Octane Ratings

There are many benefits to both types of gasoline. What you put in your car depends on the octane level it was designed to take. The octane rating on different types of gasoline refers to how your engine processes the gasoline and at what point the gasoline combusts.

That’s a fancy way of saying that your engine was designed to put pressure on gasoline until it explodes, which is what gives your car power. If it explodes before it’s supposed to, your engine won’t receive the power that it’s capable of, and this matters a lot in performance vehicles.

Conversely, if you put gasoline with a higher octane rating in your car when it’s not necessary, you aren’t giving your car any extra power, because it’s not capable of any more, and you waste your money doing it. Maybe.

Regular Unleaded

This is the most common type of gasoline people use for their vehicles. It’s a byproduct of crude oil, it’s highly flammable, and it does not have lead compounds. This makes it more environmentally friendly than gasoline with added lead, and it’s also less hazardous to your health.

Regular gasoline will fuel any standard vehicle. Even vehicles that say they require premium will run on regular, they just won’t achieve maximum power. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you want to save your money.

However, keep in mind that these machines were designed to run on premium, so your ride won’t be as smooth, your car won’t perform optimally, and you will still want to run premium through it once in a while to keep it in peak shape.


While premium gasoline is still a byproduct of crude oil and is combustible, it’s combustible at a higher rate of compression. That means it allows more pressure to build in the engine before it combusts, giving your car more power. This is especially important in cars with superchargers or turbochargers.

Premium gasoline also keeps your engine cleaner because it has detergent additives and it doesn’t produce as much pollution as regular gasoline. Higher end vehicles and sports cars are designed to run on premium because they go faster and have more power.

Sometimes you can still run regular gasoline through an engine designed for premium; you just won’t reach max power. Be careful to make sure you don’t have any added components like superchargers or turbochargers that should not be run on regular gasoline.

You can also run premium through an engine designed for unleaded to keep it cleaner, but you won’t get any more power out of it than the engine was designed for.

Premium vs. Regular

You have the option every time you fill up your tank to choose either premium or regular. The benefits of premium are that it keeps your engine and the air cleaner, and gives sports cars the power they need to perform. However, because of the price, you may decide none of this is worth your money.

Regular gasoline is cheaper, so you may choose to fill your car with the less expensive alternative because you either don’t care about performance, or aren’t too worried about keeping your engine clean. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a personal choice.

While premium gasoline is more expensive, it also burns slower, so your tank of gas will go farther. Keep that in mind when making your decision, and always make sure that whatever you choose, you don’t do permanent damage to any of the parts under your hood.

Check out Southwest Motors for a great selection of used vehicles. You can find your next everyday driver or performance vehicle from their inventory, and the staff is always happy to help get you in the car you need fast.

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