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Save Money On Gas – The Octane Factor
With the price of gas these days (over US$3.00 per gallon at the time of this writing), most people
are feeling the financial pinch and wondering what they can do to lower gas costs. This article presents one of several ways to get as many miles per dollar as possible.
When it comes to the grade of gas or octane you put in your car, “More is better,” right?
Not always. There are a number of myths surrounding the use of high octane gas.
Myth no. 1 – Using high octane gas will make my car run better.
Not exactly. If your car is “squealing” or “squealing”, higher octane gas will help or eliminate the ping and save your engine, but it doesn’t directly add horsepower. However, it prevents the electronic ignition from delaying the timing as an “anti-knock” measure when a ping is detected.
Myth no. 2: My car will get more miles per gallon using higher octane gas.
Since higher octane gas doesn’t make more power, you won’t get better gas mileage.
Myth no. 3: My engine will run cleaner and produce less emissions and smog on higher octane gas.
It is not true. Many oil company advertising methods would have you believe this, but octane has nothing to do with how “clean” your engine runs.
Myth #4: Octane is added to gasoline to produce a higher quality fuel.
No, actually Octane is gasoline, at least most of it. See octane rating below.
You can save money on gas simply by using the lowest octane gasoline your car will tolerate. Using a higher octane
gas than the manufacture says is simply a waste of money. If you are not sure what octane your car is designed for
use, you can start with the lowest octane gas (87 in most areas) and try it out. If it pings under load, go to
next octane and only buy the lowest octane your car needs. To learn more about octane, read on.
What is “Pinging” or “Knocking”?
Most of us have heard the rattling noise from under the hood, usually when the engine is under extra load, such as now
up a hill, towing a boat or in a loaded truck. The noise itself occurs when the fuel air mixture inside
the compression chamber ignites too soon (pre-ignition or detonation). This condition causes the air fuel mixture to burn unevenly and
produces the ping or thump sound. This uneven burning causes flash points in the combustion chamber and can cause engine damage.
What does Octane do?
Without getting into all the chemical properties and technical stuff, basically the octane goes up
combustion point of gasoline when under compression and slows combustion. The result is that it does
the gasoline is less volatile so it doesn’t ignite before your ignition system does at the right time.
The intent of octane is simply to provide an anti-knock property.
The octane rating you see at the gas pump is simply a percentage of the octane chemical
gasoline mixture In other words, if you buy gas with an 87 octane rating, that mixture contains 87% octane and
the rest are lower quality chemicals like heptane. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating
What about “Octane Boost” additives?
If your car needs a higher octane gas, you can use “Octane Boosters” from your local auto parts store. the cost
and effectiveness will vary. Try a tank full of additive to see if your can is working properly, then do the math to see
if it makes sense Here is a cost breakdown for my 1993 Mustang GT:
Example: 1 bottle of gas topping additive costs about $5.00. With a 15-gallon tank, that adds about $0.33 to the cost of each gallon of gas, plus the hassle of going to the auto parts store to buy it and remembering to add it to each fill-up.
If you really want or need a high octane blend, you may want to make your own.
Homemade Octane Booster
There are a number of websites and blogs that post recipes or “homebrew”. I won’t post it here because I can’t directly endorse it
use or do-it-yourself safety. However, if you are looking for a recipe to boost the octane of xylene or toluene, you will find it here. Chemical products
xylene and toluene are of higher “quality” and can produce over 100% boost. The Octane Chemist alone by definition can never produce more than one
higher than 100 octane.
Other Ping solutions
If your car continues to rattle or knock even though you are using an octane gas that is equal to or higher than your car manufacturer specifies, this
it is an indication of engine problems that you should see your mechanic. There is a well known issue that you may be able to do
try to diagnose yourself and this is the case of a stuck or failed EGR valve. It is beyond the scope of this article to explain how to check this
your EGR valve, but you need to check if your car has a chronic ping problem.
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