Cooley On Cars
Car Tech 101: Understanding premium fuelBrian Cooley explains why premium gas is being used more commonly in cars and is less of a luxury.
[MUSIC] We love regular gas. The big sign at the gas station screams how much cheaper it is. And then, you watch the savings as the pump ticks up just a little bit slower. And you also feel like you're sticking it to the man when you buy regular, right? Although, as we learned in Episode 44, you might just be sticking it to yourself. [MUSIC] In a nutshell, some cars do need premium because it resist detonation better than regular. That allows an engine to run at a higher compression. Which can get more bang out of the fuel. Which can mean more performance, better economy or both. Use regular and you kind of blunt that. Now a lot of cars today take advantage of new, small, angry often force-fed engine. Mini Clubman, Audi A4, Subaru BRZ, even a Smart Fortwo, all require premium. And they are not the high-end luxury cars you'd normally associate with that. All of which helps drive another trend. Consumption of premium gas has gone from about 8% of total US light vehicle fuel sales in 08, to just over 11% today. Now recession-pinched budgets probably drove some of that lower consumption in 08, but cars are demanding it more. Then there's the price of that increasingly regular premium. Even as we are heading into a summer of the lowest gas prices since 2004, premium's at a big delta. Five years ago, it cost 6 or 7% more than regular. Today, that spread's more like 18%. Meaning a difference today of about seven or eight bucks a fill up. Maybe 300 bucks a year. Let's face it, if you're like most people, you don't even give a thought to what kind of Fuel a car takes when your buying a new one. And yet, you'll haggle all day to get 300 bucks knocked off the MSRP, kinda doesn't make sense. If you don't like buying premium know if you're buying a car that does expect it. And that seems to be more and more cars everyday. more car tech demystified right now at CNETOnCars.com. Click on car tech 101.