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Old 11-16-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
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Premium or Regular......

I don't know if anyone did such a test already by comparing the mileages that a focus (or any car?) can run by filling up with Premium or Regular gasoline. (assuming not). My goal is to determine if by filling with premium, the extra mileages (if any) can overcome the extra cost of the gasoline. Let's say if my regular gas average is 29 mi/gal, and premium average is 32. I have about 10% mileage improvement by switching to premium. And if regular is $3/gal and premium is $3.2/gal (about 6.7% more to the regular), a better financial decision might be to fill up with the premium. So here we go.

Test Vehicle: 2003 ZX3 Duratec 2.3 5-Speed with 67000 miles (original owner). 9.7 compression ratio is high enough for premium.

The following is purely for my type of focus, driving condition, and driving habit. It may not apply to you.

1. I put about 40+ mi per day with about 95% of the mileage on highway. Half of the miles are with one passenger, the other half not.
2. I am a conservative driver (no tickets, no accidents for the last 10+ years). But I do sometimes rev up a little. Maybe hit 4k rpm once per 50 mi of driving, 5k once per tank.(got to love that torque punch in the 2nd gear!) Most of the time, I shifted under 3k rpm.
3. Based on my mileage record (I have a spreadsheet to track the mileages and amount of gasoline filled each time for the last 15000+ miles), the average for the last 10 regular fill-ups (in order to rule out the weather condition) is about 29+- mi/gal.
4. So far I am into the end of 3rd premium fill-up. The first two premiums did not show any sign (maybe a little, hard to tell) of improvement over the mileage. However, this 3rd tank really surprises me. I dont think I have even seen me hit the 400 mi mark per tank BEFORE the gasoline light came up. Most of the time, the light came up WAY before 400 miles. I think the computer maybe finally adjusted for the premium gas from the first two tanks. But who knows. We'll see how that goes for the next 5 premium tanks before cold winter is here.

Note: report the mi/gal average over just a full tank is not considered a good data since each gas station (even the same one) tends to have different "Full" standard.

I'll report back later and let me know what you think.


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Old 11-16-2010, 01:15 PM   #2
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good luck with this. very interesting
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:24 PM   #3
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Keep us posted! i always run premium in my 2.3 D-Tec! Mainly because i spoiled my car with it.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:00 PM   #4
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i dont think you will improve on your $ / mile.
10% improvement is a lot to ask for.
but good luck!

also, the manufacturers are always trying to improve their fleet mpg to meet the CAFE standards. if all they had to do was run premium fuel during the EPA test and put a sticker on the inside of your fuel door saying "Premium Gas Recomended", don't you think they would have done it?
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:31 PM   #5
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Unless your car is tuned for premium it's a waste and, with the price differential in gas grades today (over 20 cents a gal. here), I'm not convinced it's worth it even with a tune.
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:09 PM   #6
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Awesome, looking forward to the results.

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Old 11-16-2010, 05:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flipwilly2 View Post
Unless your car is tuned for premium it's a waste and, with the price differential in gas grades today (over 20 cents a gal. here), I'm not convinced it's worth it even with a tune.
Agree. As do most on the relevant Google search page: http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

To the OP: suggest beginning your research project by consulting the literature, as all serious researchers are taught to do.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:29 PM   #8
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No need to experiment. Here are the results: Using 91+ premium fuel, your car has marginally less power and uses marginally more fuel than it does using 87 octane fuel. Save yourself some time money and effort, and continue to purchase and use the manufacture's suggested octane rated fuel.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:56 PM   #9
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This is where your thoughts would be wrong.
over a trip from sd to nc and back I would run 3 consecutive tanks of fuel in a row. so as not to skew anything. all milage from first to last fillup and amount used was tallied so a good average could be obtained. this was on an 07 duratec w/auto and sap1. only mod is a steeda cai
89 w/ethanol (10%) 24.7 mpg and never changed
87 no ethanol 26.4mpg did see a high of 27.8
92 premium showed 29-35mpg (i checked premium several times)
over 90% of the driving on 89 & 87 was fairly flat open interstate at varying speeds
premium was about 80% and included places such as kansas city, st. louis, and mountains. on the way back it was snowstorm and blizzards all the way, alot of slow driving (this was when I got 29mpg).

I've run several other long trips and only run premium unless I can't find it.
don't forget, the computer has some leeway and will eventually adjust the timing and such for premium. If it doesn't sense knock it can add more timing which can equal more power.

Then again, this is just what I found with my car, others can show different results. Only way to find out is run at least three consecutive tanks of each to get a good average and go from there.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:14 PM   #10
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You will have to prove an across the board raise of 3 mpg in order to justify premium over regular gas.

Personally...premium gas will never find it's way into my focus just as anything under 93 octane will never find it's way into my cobra. Run what the car is intended for and leave it be. If you have a tune that manually adjusts the timing tables to a point that will help that's a completely different situation.


I imagine it would be smarter money-wise to lower your average cruising speed by 4-5 mph. I have noticed a significant difference in gas mileage running 64 mph versus 68 mph on my daily commute (25 miles each way, 90% interstate). I went from an average of 29 mpg to 31 mpg consistently by changing my average speed in this manner.

It would also be smarter money-wise to find a local station that carried ethanol free gas as you will notice a definite improvement in gas mileage using this. I have yet to find a reliable local carrier of ethanol free gas. Once I find one I will be using them for my once a week fill-up.
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