Normal Fuel vs. Premium Fuel: Which One Is Better?

Most vehicles run on normal fuel, while other vehicles require premium fuel. Both normal and premium fuels are two grades of gasoline whose difference is in their octane rating. Not knowing this may cost you some extra bucks at the fuel station. Read on to know what exactly you are filling your vehicle with.

Octane Rating

Octane rating

When air and fuel mixture prematurely detonates in the engine, the fuel may ping or knock during combustion. However, this can be resisted. A measure of the fuel's ability to resist this is known as the octane rating. Octane ratings are listed as premium, midgrade, and normal.

The octane rating for premium fuel is between 91–94, 88–90 for midgrade fuel, and 87 for normal fuel. Most times, you will find the octane rating displayed clearly on a yellow background on gasoline pumps. By the way, if you need a fuel cleaning injector kit, check out our blog post where you will find reviews of the best fuel cleaning injector kits here.

The Octane Fuel to Use in Your Vehicle

Best fuel for your car

Vehicle manufacturers usually state the octane rating required for your vehicle. This rating which can be found in the owner’s manual is the rating you should stick with. The majority of gasoline vehicles available are built to run on octane of 87 while others are built to run on higher octane fuel.

For engines that use a higher compression ratio and/or use turbocharging or supercharging, higher octane fuels are recommended. An engine can run poorly if a fuel with a lower octane rating than required is used. Over time, the emissions control systems and the engine can get damaged.

More mechanical energy is extracted from the mixture of fuel and air if the pressure in the cylinder is increased. For the mixture not to pre-detonate, a higher octane fuel is required. The use of higher octane fuels in engines that use a higher compression ratio will improve fuel economy and engine performance.

Generally, higher octane fuel costs more. The reason for this is that it is more expensive to produce the fuel components used in boosting octane. You should stick with the octane fuel required for your vehicle regardless of the cost.

What is Normal Fuel?

What is Normal Fuel

The vast majority of cars on the road run on normal fuel. Normal fuel has an octane rating of 87. Generally, the octane rating for normal fuel is lower when compared to other kinds of fuel.


  • Normal fuel is less expensive.
  • Beneficial for most small cars.


  • Unlike premium fuels, the additives in normal fuel do not do much to reduce friction. It only generates more pollutants and makes some components of the engine dirty. You can learn more about this in our other blog post that covers that topic only. Find it here.

What is Premium Fuel?

What is Premium Fuel

Premium fuel is a fuel with an octane rating of between 91 and 94. Its octane rating is higher than other conventional fuels. Premium fuel is better for motorcycles and high-end performance cars.


  • Premium fuels have an official rating. For instance, cetane, the official rating of diesel premium fuels can take measurements of how quickly the ignition of diesel fuel is under pressure.
  • The use of premium fuel can help create a more efficient and cleaner running engine. Most professionals think that additional cleaning with premium fuels could be beneficial for vehicles with an old engine whose history is unknown.
  • The quality of the addictive found in premium fuels is another advantage. The additive helps to reduce friction which in turn keeps the components of the engine clean.


  • Most car manufacturers say that diesel vehicles do not need to run on premium diesel fuel.
  • Only petrol engines that use a high compression ratio need premium fuel. That is, only high-performance vehicles need premium fuel.
  • Premium fuel is more expensive than normal fuel.
  • There’s no research or physical proof to show the benefits of premium fuel.

You can read more on premium fuel here.

Can Normal Fuel Be Substituted for Premium Fuel?

Can Normal Fuel Be Substituted for Premium Fuel

Oftentimes, the use of octane with a rating higher than what is recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual offers no benefit. Vehicles work best when they are used with the specific fuel type that is recommended. Using the required octane rating as specified by your vehicle manufacturer is important.

The engine of your vehicle will run at maximum performance if the right octane rating fuel is used. The use of recommended octane rating also prevents the engine of your vehicle from damage.Higher octane (premium) fuel does not ignite too fast. For this reason, the high compression engine found in high-performance cars requires fuel of higher octane rating (premium fuel).

Engines that make use of fuel with higher octane rating gives out less exhaust and emissions, and their work is more efficient. The use of normal fuel instead of premium fuel may combust too fast.

This fast combustion may cause a knocking sound in the engine. In addition to the unwanted noise heard in the engine, a lower than required fuel may cause damage to the engine, reduce the vehicle’s fuel economy, and power.

Mixing Normal Fuel with Premium Fuel

By now, you should know that both normal and premium fuel contain different octanes. The performance of your vehicle will not improve if both fuels are mixed. To have your vehicle performing at its peak, you should adhere to the recommendation by the manufacturer. If you want to learn more about car hydrogen fuel cell, click here.

Does Premium Fuel Last Longer?

Premium gas

It is not a bad idea to test the performance of your vehicle at different premium levels to see how the performance changes. This can be done by filling the tank to a quarter level or lower with one of the premium grades. Keep a close eye on the mileage as you drive with the different premium octane fuels.

Also, test the different octane levels and observe how the vehicle sounds and feels as you drive. Don’t forget to observe the change in acceleration rate as well.

With efficient driving, you can improve the performance of your vehicle. For example, avoid flooring the fuel when you take off from a stop sign or red light. Drive in a regular fashion and don’t make quick accelerations when driving on highway mileage and long distances.

Final Thoughts

The major difference between a normal fuel and a premium fuel is their octane rating. Any type of fuel that has an octane rating of between 91-94 is considered premium fuel. Fuel with an octane rating of 87 is considered normal or regular fuel. A vehicle whose engine has a higher compression ratio is required to use an octane of a higher rating.

The recommended fuel for your vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual. If your owner’s manual recommends that you use premium fuel, there is a reason for that. If it recommends that you use normal fuel, there is also a reason for that. On stickers in your vehicle, you’ll also find the recommended fuel.

The inside filler cap can also provide information on the type of fuel needed by your vehicle. For efficient use of your vehicle, you should stick to the recommended octane rating.

Vehicles that require premium fuel have high-performance aspects like high-compression engines and turbochargers. Not using premium fuel won't do any harm to your vehicle except it is the recommended fuel for the engine.

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