Premium Gas A Con?

Megan Benoit
by Megan Benoit
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premium gas a con

What Car? [via The Daily Record] says premium petrol is a rip-off, providing neither extra power nor superior gas mileage. The UK consumer magazine paid a lab to test various premium grades against their lowly counterparts. The lab concluded that premium petrol purchasers may eke out a few more miles to the gallon, but the cost (up to 30p more per gallon) outweighs the benefit. In specific, they claim that Shell's V-Power petrol couldn't quite match the mileage provided by regular: 22.9mpg to 23mpg (which is well within the margin of error). The article fails to mention that certain car manufacturers require premium unleaded for a reason; the knock sensor will smooth things over, but you'll get pitiful gas mileage and probably damage your engine over the long run.

Megan Benoit
Megan Benoit

I'm a computer security geek raised in Nebraska and recently transplanted to Atlanta. I like me some cars, got into car geekery a few years ago and haven't looked back since. I also volunteer at a local ferret shelter and participate in various charity and fund-raising events related to that.

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4 of 31 comments
  • Qwerty Qwerty on Oct 02, 2007

    Riddle me this. Why is it that the extra octane in mid-grade gas seems to always cost ten cents and premium another ten cents. What is the actual extra production costs? Do gas stations or oil refineries make a lot more money on premium?

  • Nippywiffle Nippywiffle on Oct 02, 2007

    Sorry - I knew there was some difference between the way the 2 ratings were calculated, but I didn't think they were exactly the same - ie 87 = 91, 89 = 95 etc.. I thought the lowest US rating was still slightly lower than the european lowest rating. I just looked it all up, and they are the same.

  • Nippywiffle Nippywiffle on Oct 02, 2007

    Maybe they should get rid of regular and mid grade, and all manufacturers should just engineer their engines to make the most of premium :-D then we'd all be getting an extra few hp for our money. With the costs I was used to in the UK (somewhere around $7 per gallon), buying premium all the time here in the US would still be cheap to me :)

  • Megan Benoit Megan Benoit on Oct 02, 2007

    When I lived in NE, mid-grade was 10c cheaper than regular because of the ethanol content (huge subsidies made it cheaper, where in other states, it was 10c more expensive). Ran it in my Integra, and in the husband's focus. Never saw a gas mileage difference b/t that and the regular grade. Now both cars have turbos that demand the good stuff. The LGT doesn't do too bad on mid-grade (89 or 90 octane, 91 recommended), only a slight drop in gas mileage and no performance change that we could discern. The GTI, however, gets absolute crap gas mileage on less than 91... we had to put a few gallons of 89 in it to get us to Lincoln (good luck finding better than that in rural nebraska), and it was ridiculously low. Worse was what we paid for it... being 'premium' gas in a rural of the country, they charged an excessive 'premium' price for it... we were paying probably 50c a gallon less for 93 octane here in the ATL. I always felt bad for people in colorado... the gas is a lower octane, and you'll pay even more for it.