Each day in America, 360 million gallons of gasoline are used. A majority of vehicles on the road today need gasoline to run, but when you’re filling up at the pump, do you really know about the liquid you’re putting in your vehicle that makes it “go?”
The Different “Levels” of Gasoline
When you arrive at a gas pump, you’re often greeted by several gasoline options to fuel your vehicle. There’s “regular” gasoline, which will be the cheapest, the most-expensive “premium” gasoline, often with a “middle” option, both in rating and price, in between. Above these fuel types, there is a corresponding number, typically 87 for regular, 89 for the middle level, and 91 or 93 for premium.
These numbers represent octane ratings. Octane ratings refer to the fuel’s type’s resistance to combustion when pressure is applied. The higher the number, the more resistant the fuel type is to combusting under the pressure created by engine heat. Engines designed for high performance require a higher quality of gasoline to prevent combustion.
It is important to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual in order to determine the type of fuel that your engine needs. Failure to do so could result in your engine “knocking,” which means the fuel combusts early, throwing off the timing of the engine’s mechanics. Premium gasoline will not help your vehicle run better unless the engine is designed to take premium gasoline in the first place.
Recently, “Flexfuels” have become more prevalent at the gas pumps. While a majority of gasoline is 10% ethanol, Flexfuels contain 51% to 83% ethanol, depending on geography and season. Only certain vehicles can use Flexfuels, and they result in lower gas mileage than their traditional fuel counterparts.
Is There A Major Difference Between Gasoline Brands?
A common misconception is that gasoline purchased at a “big name” brand is better for your vehicle than gas purchased at a “mom and pop” store. While this may have been the case years ago, today, all gasoline is regulated by the EPA, which mandates a minimum level of system cleaning additives for any gasoline sold in the United States.
The differences between one brand of gasoline and another are traditionally very minor. While you might find that gasoline from one station performs slightly better than another, gasoline is made up of more than 150 components, and will react with different vehicles and different engines in different ways. There is no definitive answer for the “best” gasoline brands across multiple vehicles.
How Does Fuel Enter the Engine?
From a gas pump or gas can, gasoline enters the fuel tank, where a vehicle’s fuel is stored. In the tank, a fuel pump distributes the gasoline into a fuel line, through a filter, and into the fuel injector. The injector sprays gasoline into the piston cylinder of the engine, which then goes through a four-stroke cycle.
The fuel mixes with air upon intake, is compressed together with that air, which is in turn ignited by the spark plug, causing combustion, and then the air and fuel mixture exits the engine as exhaust gases. The exhaust gases proceed through a catalytic converter to control emissions, and exits the vehicle through the muffler.
What Do I Do If I Have Issues with my Fuel System?
If you experience any “knocking” or problems with the performance of your vehicle, be sure to visit your nearest Milex Complete Auto Care, and one of our friendly team members will provide a complete inspection.