The Truth About Cars » octane ratings The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » octane ratings European-Style Octane Could Boost Efficiency, Power In US Engines Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:45:24 +0000 Octane

Should United States gasoline octane standards be updated to match those in Europe, fuel efficiency could see a significant improvement, along with increases in engine power.

Ward’s Auto reports the Detroit Three powertrain bosses laid-out their case for increasing octane ratings before attendees at this year’s SAE World Congress. In short, by matching ratings with those in Europe — where the highest rating is 95+ — engineers could build engines for higher compression, leading to increases in fuel efficiency and power instead of the losses in both found in engines made for the U.S. market, where the highest rating available is 91.

The idea has precedent, as diesel fuel was brought in line with European standards seven years ago, with improvements to both engines and emissions as a result.

Though the Detroit Three bosses brought the issue up with the Department of Energy and various power players within the Beltway, only now have they brought it before the public, as Ford chief Bob Fascetti explains:

I can’t say we’ve actually lobbied together, but it’s a common-sense thing. If we had a single-octane fuel that was higher, then we can take advantage of that for the customer, we can implement higher compression ratios and we won’t be knock-limited on the fuel. It’s win-win for the innovators as well as for the customers.

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Piston Slap: When RON met PON…Mon!!! Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:00:46 +0000

Brian writes:

Hola! First off, love the site, long time listener, first time caller. I recently had the amazing opportunity to act as chauffeur for my good Chilean friend Diego’s road trip through Patagonia. He had access to a little four banger 1998 Daihatsu Feroza (Rocky in the US) but did not know how to drive. So I gladly I wrestled this thing around Southern South America in a circuit of just over 3000 Kilometers that took us south on Chile’s famous Carretera Austral (dirt roads cutting through the Andes) and back north through Argentina’s Route 40 (very similar to route 66 in the US).

Ten days, two ferry rides, a flat tire and a dead battery along the way, but totally worth it for the amazing landscapes we traversed and experienced.

I was surprised to see that at almost every gas station we stopped at in both countries, the lowest grade octane available was 93, which being from the US I assumed was for fickle sports car engines and old ladies who don’t know any better. My question is, is this true of most countries outside the US and what are the benefits of putting high grade gasoline in an econobox?


PS:  Included are two photos of the little green devil, I feel in love with her but unfortunately couldn’t fit her in my suit case on the flight back. So maybe a question for another day is, what is the financial feasibility of purchasing a car in another country instead of renting and then shipping it back to the US after your trip? Auto-tourism?

Sajeev answers:

Well, if I fell in love with my decal-less “16 Valve EFI” Ford Ranger, I can totally relate.  Financial feasibility of shipping cars like that?  None, but importing them as an antique (over 25 years old) is somewhat feasible but still challenging.  Perhaps an update on my imported Ford Sierra is in order. And while a Merkur XR4ti is no substitute for a proper Ford Sierra Ghia 5-door, I’m guessing that isn’t true about the Feroza-Rocky: just get a US-Spec Rocky.

To your other question, a simple answer: regional octane ratings fit under the RON, PON, or MON systems. You didn’t see “our” 93 octane gas, most countries in South America use a different octane rating system. I mentioned this once before to an intrepid Piston Slapper in Pakistan, and the same is true here.  Per Wikipedia:

“Chile: 93, 95 and 97 RON are standard at almost all gas stations thorough Chile. The three types are unleaded.”

So odds are the gas you saw/smelled was closer to “our” 87 octane, not 93 octane. But don’t take my word for it, listen to your fellow TTAC readers:


TTAC Commentator John R writes:

Visiting the parents in Panama and I had to grab a photo of this. Gasoline a bit dearer, but you have choice between 91 and 95(!!!) octane. Diesel is also relatively cheaper…depending where you are Stateside.

Also, as a side note:

Just from driving around US metal is sucking major wind down here. Korea and Japan (in that order for good reason $20k for a Civic basic!) are run it with Peugeot, Fiat and Skoda picking up the scraps…Skoda! The typical luxury suspects are here also but with Cadillac being nonexistent. One wonders if they are even being sold down here. What is a bit more interesting to me is that I see a lot more of the Infiniti EX than the G. The Qashqai is in well represented for good reason – its a real looker. Seriously, I want a Qashqai. If the Rogue didn’t already look homely enough…


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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