H-CENTRAL COAST

Aug 22, 2013 8:49 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Is filling up with premium gas a waste of money?

Many of us will take to the road this coming Labor Day weekend and that means filling up at the pump. So how do you decide what type of gasoline to get?

There are three options: premium, mid-grade and regular.

The Federal Trade Commission says octane grades aren't graded on how good the fuel is for a car. The numbers at the pump have to do with the percentage of octane.

"Sometimes my son will fill it up and put regular in it to save money, but I like the plus," said Cheryll Hickey.

"Premium means it's less combustible," explained Eric Wahl, owner of the Bavarian Auto House. "And unless you drive a luxury car, choosing the premium doesn't matter."

"In the past I have had cars where I did experiment and I did notice there was a difference in the knocking," said David, who was filling up at the Shell station in Shell Beach.

According to the FTC, unless your engine is knocking, buying a higher octane is a waste of money.

Whal said "knocking is the rattling in the engine." Consumer reports say the rattling is "caused when gasoline combusts before it's ignited by the spark plug."

So how should you choose?

"You should use the fuel the manufacture recommends," said Wahl.

But the FTC says even if the manual suggests premium for your car. Many newer cars run just fine on regular. Consumer reports say this is because "the engine's knock- sensor system detects the presence of uncontrolled burning in the chambers," and it will automatically reduce power to save the engine.

"It might just reduce your performance and also probably your gas mileage slightly," said Wahl.

Consumer reports say the best way to check if your car can take regular gas is call a dealership's service department.

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