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OK to put 89 octane in 330?

2560 Views 34 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  Double Vanos
Hey all, the manual says only put premium.. but cmon is it gonna make that big of a deal to put 89 in a 330?? I know in an M3 you would have to... what do you put in yours? Any problems with 89??
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February 17, 2003

Don't waste your money on Premium gas
by Phil Bailey

Last week, regular gasoline hit a price of 88 cents a litre in Montreal. This is the equivalent of $2.35 a gallon in the USA. When I drove up to the regular, low priced gas pump to fill the tank of my 1986 VW Golf winter car, there was a Ford Excursion down the row pumping in premium fuel. After the Monster Truck drove away, I asked the attendant how much the owner had paid for gas. $77 he said!

My reaction was not of sympathy for the Excursion owner, who can afford these prices after paying nearly $60,000 for his truck. No, what struck me instantly was that my little Golf would have cost me that kind of money for a fill up in Europe. That made my credit card amount of $35 easier to swallow.

However, next up at the premium pump was a 1988 Pontiac 6000 with a 2.8 litre V6 engine, a sagging right rear spring and a hood held shut with electrical wire.

Why this driver was buying premium fuel might have been a mystery, if I had not already asked that question many times, only to find two standard answers. First, "I need to have a car that starts well in Winter" and secondly "I get better gas mileage". Unfortunately, neither of these statements can be verified in real life.

They are delusions.

Sure, if you own a Porsche Turbo or a Ferrari Enzo, you may need a high grade of fuel, but 90% of the cars I see using "high test" are wasting their money.

First, the only thing that can guarantee a clean start on a cold morning is a first class tune-up and an engine with reasonable compression. Secondly, there are more BTU's in a pound of regular gas than in a premium grade - more in diesel fuel, more in home heating oil and so on down the scale to number 6 marine bunker fuel. The more you refine crude oil, the less energy it contains. The world could save 12% of it's reserves by using nothing more refined than diesel oil. "Better mileage" is the one thing you won't get.

Mostly, oil companies charge a 15% premium for their highest grades. A 15% increase in my fuel economy would make me very happy, but even then, I would only be breaking even. If you can find your owner's manual, read what grade of fuel is recommended by the manufacturer, you may be very surprised. Even then, your very sophisticated, on board engine management computer, has a device connected to it that is called a knock sensor. In effect, this is a little microphone that senses when an engine may be suffering from pre-ignition and will make adjustments to the engine accordingly.

So try a tank full of regular gas. If it works well, why not use it and save some money?

If your older car develops ping, let a garage take a look at doing an internal carbon clean. A cheap and easy process that cleans carbon from the combustion chambers.

Someone is always trying to organise a "buy no gas" protest and I don't doubt there's another one coming to my e-mail address very soon. However, a complete and total boycott of premium fuel will make the point much more clearly and effectively.

Personally, I think our eleven governments are getting away with a major deceit here, because every time the cost of fuel rises they take a bigger and bigger cut. If you take a look at the "pie plate" sticker on the gas pumps these days that shows who is profiting the most from gas prices, the two levels of government are by far the biggest beneficiaries. On average, the gas station owner may get 3 cents, if he is lucky.

Oh and by the way, if you want to start saving even more money, stop using all those additives in every fluid used in your car - many of them are not doing you any good either! Gas line anti-freeze in the winter is not a bad idea and an occasional injector cleaner may be of limited use, but if you're an additive junky, now is the time to kick your habit and start saving money on your total fuel costs.


Montreal-based Phil Bailey is a mechanical engineer, garage owner, journalist and TV and radio personality who was a former rally driver and press relations officer for Mont Tremblant race track. He can be reached at [email protected]

© 1999-2003, CanadianDriver Communications Inc., all rights reserved
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