Everything You Need to Know About Octane Rating
Your fuel’s octane rating can determine a lot and offer several benefits for your vehicle’s engine. Before we dive deeper into all that you need to know about the octane rating, first, we need to elaborate on what octane itself is and how it can benefit your car engine’s health and performance.
To put it simply, octane makes sure the fuel your car uses burns less. Some of you might ask why we would ever want to make the fuel burn less and be less flammable. Well, fuel that burns more tends to force the explosive mixture of air and fuel inside the pistons to ignite prematurely. This can cause damage to the engine and reduce performance.
Luckily, there are several amazing octane boosters on the market that will fix the issue for you and stop irregular combustion cycles within the pistons. Now that we know what octane itself is, let’s discuss further what an octane rating is, how it affects your vehicle, how to improve the octane rating, and more.
What Is Octane Rating?
Improving the octane rating of the fuel you are using is crucial if you want to avoid your engine reducing performance and even getting damaged over time as a result of knocking.
Knocking occurs when, as we mentioned, gasoline spontaneously ignites before it has been fully compressed before the spark can ignite. Because of this occurrence, high pressure will continually build up in the engine, causing permanent damage to the engine over time and forcing the car to run with reduced performance and efficiency.
The most important thing to remember about the octane rating is the higher the octane rating, the better for your engine. Although higher is better, sometimes it’s hard to achieve the desired numbers, as a few different factors can affect this. For example, it’s more and more expensive to get the octane rating as high as you possibly can.
You should always try to make sure that the fuel you’re using never has a lower octane rating than the car manufacturer of that vehicle recommends. If you are using this type of fuel, then purchasing an octane booster is a must if you want to protect your engine and increase performance.
To sum up, when it all comes down to one thing, octane rating is all about knock resistance. We mentioned that knocking is bad for your engine, so boosting the octane rating will always fix this type of problem.
What is a Normal Octane Rating?
In the United States, you will mainly find three primary grades of gas based on the octane rating. As we mentioned, you never want to use a fuel that has a lower octane rating than what your car’s manufacturer recommends. However, the lowest acceptable octane rating for most gasoline engines is set at 87 octane points. In fact, here are the three main grades of octane rating you will want to go by.
- Regular – Minimum of 87 Octane Rating
- Midgrade – Between 87 and 90 Octane Rating
- Premium – Between 91 and 94 Octane Rating
It is easily possible to raise the octane rating of your fuel to even higher than that. A higher rating won’t hurt your engine, as it will adapt gradually.
Selecting the Right Octane Fuel
How do you know what type of fuel, based on the octane rating, you should use? Well, as we discussed, most cars will work great on fuel with an octane rating of a minimum of 87 points. However, it’s important to know that different fuels have different octane ratings. When you consider the E85s octane rating, it stands at 108 points, so you wouldn’t need to add extra additives to improve the rating with it.
Keep in mind that a higher octane fuel will cost more, typically because this type of fuel is a bit harder to produce and it requires more resources. However, the cost will be extremely worth it as your engine won’t suffer from the damage resulting from engine knocking.
How to Increase the Octane Rating?
Before you decide to increase and improve the octane rating in the fuel you’re using or deciding to use a higher octane fuel, first, you need to make sure that you understand why you’re doing it and if it’s for the right reasons.
If you’re simply trying to make your engine more powerful or make your car run faster, then increasing the octane rating in your fuel will definitely not accomplish this. The fuel, or its octane rating, isn’t responsible for the amount of power your engine puts out.
Now, if you want to protect your engine and prevent it from underperforming, then increasing the octane rating will make sure to stop the engine from knocking and prevent premature combustion in the cylinders. We mentioned that knocking is a great way for your engine to get damaged over time, as pressure continues to build up inside.
There aren’t that many ways to improve the octane rating in your fuel, but the few ones that do exist almost always work and provide excellent results. So, what are they?
Using an Octane Booster
An octane booster is an additive that usually comes in liquid form that you pour inside the fuel tank. You can also get it as a package of tablets that you simply drop inside, but it won’t matter, as it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Once you pour the additive, it will make sure to blend with the fuel and do its magic regarding making it less flammable. This will prevent premature combustion, and protect your engine from further damage. Before you come to any conclusions, the octane booster will not fix your engine if there has been previous damage done to it from knocking. It will simply prevent the problem from occurring again and protect your engine from now on.
There are a few different brands of octane boosters you can choose from. Not all of these products will increase the octane rating for the same amount. The manufacturer always states how many points it will improve the rating by and will mention other necessary details.
Purchasing Higher Octane Fuel
Aside from adding an additive like the octane booster to your fuel, you can also decide to start buying a different type of gas, preferably one with higher octane. This will obviously be more expensive, but it’s another matter of personal preference and cost-efficiency.
You should do the math of what will be more worth it and choose what to do accordingly. At the end of the day, it will be less expensive than getting a new engine. Just make sure not to go overboard with the octane rating points, as you don’t need to spend extra money on an extremely high rating number improvement. A small upgrade will go a long way.
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