What Octane Ratings Mean: Understanding Your Engine

Buick Engine

Every time you get gas, you select a specific octane; however, few people actually know why they select certain octanes. That’s why we’ve put together a post on what octane ratings mean. Next time you visit the pump, you’ll know exactly what everything means.


According to Exxon, there are three main octane ratings: Regular (87), Special (89), and Super (91-93). Generally, normal cars will take an octane rating of 87; nonetheless, you should check your owner’s manual first.


Octane ratings represent a fuel’s ability to resist compression before combustion. The higher the rating, the better the performance. If you use gasoline with a lower octane rating than what your engine needs, its will “ping” or “knock.” Diesel engines don’t require high octane fuels because they compress air, not fuel, so there is no need for better octane.


Though most cars require 87 octane fuels, you should consider upgrading if you are towing a heavy load or driving at high altitudes. Otherwise, you might just be wasting your money.


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