The Difference Between Regular & Premium Fuel for Students Who Want to Become a Certified Mechanic

Once You Become a Certified Mechanic Know that Fuel Octane Ratings Make a Small Difference
Look at the options more expensive than “Regular” at the average fuel pump and you’ll see tantalizing words like “Premium” or even “Supreme,” and maybe a small number indicating each one’s “octane level.” Normally, there will be little or no explanation of what functional difference exists between these different options, and many consumers are convinced that this is because there is no difference at all.

As a future automotive professional, it could come in handy to have a better idea of how these different grades of fuel stack up. Is there a difference? Is it worth splurging on a pricier grade of fuel?

Here are some points worth knowing.

Once You Become a Certified Mechanic, Know that Fuel “Octane” Ratings Make a Small Difference

The average automobile is mostly powered by controlled explosions. Fuel and air are mixed together, and then ignited in the engine, providing the energy to get the car moving, heat or cool the car, and power the rest of a car’s systems. These explosions can sometimes be mistimed, though, and this (a phenomenon called “pinging”) can reduce fuel efficiency, and even damage components of the vehicle.

Higher-octane fuel is a bit less likely to cause pinging, and therefore could offer vehicles somewhat better fuel economy. It’s worth noting, though, that general professional opinion is that these gains are negligible. As a result, many don’t recommend buying premium fuel for better economy. If, after you become a certified mechanic, people ask you whether octane rating makes a difference for fuel economy, you’ll be safe to tell them “not really.”

Premium fuel offers very small benefits to fuel economy
Premium fuel offers very small benefits to fuel economy

Premium Fuel Does Have More Detergents, But They’re Not Really a Necessity

As with burning anything else, burning fuel can result in residue. To help clean this out, and keep engines running smoothly, gas producers include detergents in their fuel. Premium fuels usually include more of these ingredients, and are therefore a bit better at cleaning out a gas tank. If you encounter a particularly dirty gas tank after graduating from automotive school in Montreal, using premium fuels for a little while can help with cleaning it out, and getting it back in good running shape.

For the average car, though, experts say that there’s no real need to use premium fuels for their cleansing ability. What’s more, even when a car’s engine is in need of cleaning, it may be even more effective to use a special additive to get the engine cleared out. Be sure to recommend the best option for each individual case when working in your career.

After You Become a Mechanic, It’s Worth Knowing Some Cars Need to Use Premium

With some higher-end models, a recommendation or instruction will be issued to the buyer to use a particular grade of fuel. The idea is that the high level of compression in some engines is such that lower octane fuel will likely cause pinging, and so to avoid damage, drivers should get pricier fuel.

Experts are split on whether certain cars really do need premium fuel, or if they’ll get by just fine running on regular. There are almost no odds of damage, though, so if a driver uses regular in a “premium” vehicle and doesn’t experience engine pinging, you can assure them that their car is in no danger.

The main reason some cars may need to use premium fuel is that some warranties will include that stipulation. If something else goes wrong with the engine and the manufacturer sees that regular fuel was used, they might refuse to honour the warranty. When working in your career, you may want to make sure any frugal clients understand that particular risk.

Warranty stipulations may mean some owners should use premium fuel
Warranty stipulations may mean some owners should use premium fuel

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