Before you ask the fuel station attendant for the most premium gasoline with the highest octane rating for your city car, heed this: When loading up, the higher the octane rating does not always mean the fuel is better for your ride.
During an intimate lunch with Chevron Philippines executives and select members of the motoring media, TopGear.com.ph picked the bosses' brains on the myth about fuel they wish people would stop believing.
"A number of motorists still subscribe to the misconception that they’ll get better performance out of their car if they use fuel with a very high octane," said Chevron Philippines product engineering specialist Ronaldo Daguman. "Using fuel with a higher octane will not improve your vehicle's performance; it will only lead to a bigger hit on your wallet."
That's not to say that octane rating is, er, overrated. This figure deserves your attention, too.
According to our technical editor Ferman Lao, octane rating is a measure of fuel's anti-knocking or auto ignition properties. "The higher the number, the more knock-resistant it is," he once explained here. He further noted that using fuel with a lower octane rating than recommended will result in a less-than-optimum vehicle performance and efficiency.
So if an incredibly high octane rating isn't necessary and if a lower figure won't bring out the best out of your daily driver, what's the ideal octane rating then? Daguman's answer: The octane rating indicated in your car's manual.
"A well-maintained automobile only needs fuel with an octane level that meets what is indicated in the owner’s manual," he clarified. "Choosing the best octane rating is like shopping for a t-shirt. If the size medium fits you well, why go for XXL?"
Daguman also stressed the importance of fuel quality. "Using low-quality fuel will eventually lead to engine-performance problems," he warned. He advised motorists to not only consider cost, but to also think of quality and to gas up at trusted brands that have stringent quality tests. Chevron Philippines, for one, even conducted a test in 2013 to examine the effects of Techron.
The takeaway? Read the owner's manual. The handy reference book in your glovebox is probably the least entertaining read, but it has almost everything you need to know about your vehicle.