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Old 06-28-2022, 03:01 PM   #1
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Glad I don't have one

We've just come back from a beautiful trip, Vancouver, BC to Crater Lake, Or, camping at KOA, Lemolo Lake. Trip down I5 via Salem, thru Oakridge, return thru Roseburg + I5 Salem to home. Total mileage, 1906km's (1184 miles). Of note, I run supreme 91-94 octane fuel, feeling the hi-test "seems" to make the engine perform happier with less gear downs & better overall fuel economy. It appears to be worth the extra cost especially compared to lower octane ethanol blend fuel, which I believe is more of a "filler" with little (if any) energy value. (opinions?). Pulling our 19', lightly loaded & mated to our Jeep V6 Grand Cherokee, total fuel cost $600 US.
What I'm glad not to have is a big rig combination & all the other fuel consuming adventure accessories. At an average price of approx. $5.60/G gas & more for diesel, I have a feeling that there will be many big rigs for sale after this season of camping is over.
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Old 06-28-2022, 03:06 PM   #2
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I heard an expert explain that using premium fuel in a vehicle that calls for regular is a waste of money, because the computerized fuel controls are set to optimize for regular.

There is always the placebo effect.
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Old 06-28-2022, 05:39 PM   #3
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Placebo effect

If you think something works, well, then it works. For you. Burn, baby, burn, that premium gas.
Ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol) is added to fuel, is combustible, but does not contain the BTU content of petroleum gasoline. It is a filler, and it combusts OK in vehicles, but is not as "powerful". It comes with additional caveats, like gelling in long term storage. It absorbs water vapor in the air, and messes things up in mechanical devices. No issue if you use it up; over-winter storage is sketchy, at best.
Baglo is correct. Look at your vehicle manual to see the manufacturers recommendations for fuel octane usage, or do as you please.
Ethanol has 30% less BTU value than gasoline:

https://ethanolproducer.com/articles...s-outweigh-btu
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Old 06-28-2022, 05:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I heard an expert explain that using premium fuel in a vehicle that calls for regular is a waste of money, because the computerized fuel controls are set to optimize for regular.
Actually all modern fuel injection ECM/PCMs dynamically 'optimize' the various parameters they control for the full range of fuel octane specified by the manufacturer. Typically that range is from some minimum octane specification to at least the octane of commonly available 'premium' pump fuels.

While the result in economic terms is usually little or no 'payback' when using higher-than-recommended minimum octane gasoline, there can be measurable and perceptible performance increase, particularly when operating under increased load such as when towing and in mountainous regions. Among the measures of improved performance that my be observed are higher gear selection (lower RPM) when under load / climbing grades, better acceleration when under load, and/or lower engine temperatures when under load than would otherwise be encountered with lower octane.

This primarily due to the fact that the higher octane allows the ECM/PCM to safely (i.e. without damaging pre-ignition / aka 'knock') advance the effective ignition timing curve compared to that which is allowed with lower octane fuel.

One pays for the privilege of that improved performance (the gas is more expensive and the MPG increase, if any, does not offset that) but there are times / conditions when that may be a beneficial compromise rather than a "waste of money".

In 'normal' driving one rarely encounters conditions benefiting from that degree of timing advance; then there's rarely any meaningful benefit observed at all (and yes, in that case the higher octane is likely a "waste of money").

Note that no ECM/PCM actually directly measures or "knows" the octane number or BTU/unit of volume of the fuel the engine combusts - they use very sophisticated 'knock sensors' and other indirect (aka "proxy") indicators along with a very sophisticated dynamic control algorithm which, at very fast (millisecond) intervals, constantly tries to advance the ignition timing to an optimal degree for performance and then retards that to a safe degree for longevity when potentially dangerous 'knock' is sensed (far below human hearing threshold); this is a continuous process while driving.

In almost all modern systems there's more than just ignition timing in-play; injection timing, sometimes valve timing, and other parameters are also in-play and under the dynamic control of the ECM/PCM. All constantly working to 'optimize' everything for the conditions extant at every instant in time.

So, to say that there is no 'economic benefit' in using higher than minimum recommended octane is almost always true; but to suggest that there is never benefit at all in using higher than minimum recommended octane is a bit of over reach. IMO
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Old 06-28-2022, 05:52 PM   #5
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For Clarity...

Only use "Supreme" when pulling the trailer, using regular grade fuel for day to day travel.
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Old 06-28-2022, 06:25 PM   #6
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I’m with you on the big rig thing!! Even though I’m burning diesel at nearly 6 bucks a gallon, I’m very happy with my combination and extremely comfortable in my 19. Getting 18.6 mpg on my trip so far. I can’t imagine what those big duallys hauling gigantic fifth wheels are getting, but it ain’t that!! Love my Escape.
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Old 06-28-2022, 06:32 PM   #7
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For Clarity...

Only use "Supreme" when pulling the trailer, using regular grade fuel for day to day travel.
...
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Old 06-28-2022, 07:39 PM   #8
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After a year ,The supreme caused my f-150 turboV6 to need the spark-plugs replaced under warranty. Must have been a fluke I guess.
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Old 06-28-2022, 09:21 PM   #9
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I can tell the difference pulling passes with our Taco when running premium.
Typically will fill with higher octane for mountain tow & regular for everything else.
Mileage seems to be near the same, just seat of the pants performance makes it worth the extra $
IMHO
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Old 06-28-2022, 10:15 PM   #10
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Only use "Supreme" when pulling the trailer, using regular grade fuel for day to day travel.
I'm in the same camp to some extent. When heading out of Denver, to the west generally, there is a grueling uphill climb before reaching relative level country. So, I start my camping/trailer trip with a tank of premium (manufacture recommends regular).

My thinking: The computer knock sensor is going to measure less knock due to the higher octane, and - guessing - not make as radical adjustment as it might with the extra 4000 pounds, 6% grade, 5,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level. My expectation is better performance but that has proved to be difficult to measure by counting who I am passing and who is passing me. Just too many variables to deal with so I settle for the placebo effect.
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Old 06-28-2022, 10:34 PM   #11
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Perhaps of interest, this the applicable text clipped verbatim from the Owner's Manual for my F150 with 3.5l Ecoboost V6:
Selecting the Correct Fuel - Gasoline

Your vehicle operates on regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum pump (R+M)/2 octane rating of 87.

Some fuel stations, particularly those in high altitude areas, offer fuels posted as regular unleaded gasoline with an octane rating below 87. The use of these fuels could result in engine damage that will not be covered by the vehicle Warranty.

For best overall vehicle and engine performance, premium fuel with an octane rating of 91 or higher is recommended. The performance gained by using premium fuel is most noticeable in hot weather as well as other conditions, for example when towing a trailer. See Towing a Trailer (page 403).
This engine is not a "Flex Fuel" engine, so in a separate note we find:
Do not use:
• Fuel containing more than 15% ethanol or E85 fuel.
______________

I happen to be of the same thought as several previous posters .... 87 for daily driving, run the 36 gallon tank low and switch to higher octane when anticipating a towing trip.
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Old 06-29-2022, 12:57 AM   #12
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I tow with 87 and use 91+ when towing in mountains.
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Old 06-29-2022, 08:54 AM   #13
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Stripped most of your explanation except for the part I have a question about...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
One pays for the privilege of that improved performance (the gas is more expensive and the MPG increase, if any, does not offset that) but there are times / conditions when that may be a beneficial compromise rather than a "waste of money".

In 'normal' driving one rarely encounters conditions benefiting from that degree of timing advance; then there's rarely any meaningful benefit observed at all (and yes, in that case the higher octane is likely a "waste of money").
I'm planning a camping trip in mid-September. The final destination will be Utah. I could take a 'southern' route from Lancaster - via I-76/I-70/I-40 - through Albuquerque, or a more northern route via I-76/I-70 through Denver. I'll cut @280 miles off the drive if I go through Denver. But I'll have to deal with the Rocky Mountains.

1. Would it be prudent to take the southern route? I'm towing a 21 with a 4 Runner.
2. Referencing higher octane gas, you wrote: There are times / conditions when that may be a beneficial compromise rather than a "waste of money".

Might your statement apply If I decide to take the route through Denver? In my situation for example, would it make sense to use a higher octane fuel in elevation?

Thanks for a very lucid explanation regard octane and what the ECM/PCM does.
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Old 06-29-2022, 10:57 AM   #14
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1. Would it be prudent to take the southern route? I'm towing a 21 with a 4 Runner.
If the vehicle is capable, and I suspect yours is based on other trip posts here from 4 Runner owners, I'd select my route based on sights, destinations, and other Have Fun factors, not fuel considerations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telescopist View Post
2. Referencing higher octane gas, you wrote: There are times / conditions when that may be a beneficial compromise rather than a "waste of money".
IMO as stated, if towing in mountainous terrain it couldn't hurt, might help, but if budget or availability dictates otherwise I wouldn't obsess about it absent persistent audible 'knock'. Your 4 Runner should preclude that / protect itself by making the mentioned adjustments with a bit of attendant performance loss which may or may not be perceptible.

Having said that, I'd be attentive to pump labels and if you find yourself in one of those few high altitude areas where the "regular" fuel is lower octane than the "regular" fuel you 'normally' use, I'd pay for at least the octane I 'normally' use (even if not driving a Ford Ecoboost like mine with a specific warning about that).
___________

I hope folks understand that my posts are intended to explain how and why one may receive benefit from use of higher octane fuels. By no means do I intend to suggest that's a necessity for vehicle safety or longevity absent persistent audible knock. Given the protective systems in most modern vehicles that should be a rare, if ever, occurrence. IF, for whatever reason / combination of conditions one does experience persistent audible knock, switching to higher octane may mitigate that. IMO.
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Old 06-29-2022, 12:48 PM   #15
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What I'm glad not to have is a big rig combination & all the other fuel consuming adventure accessories. At an average price of approx. $5.60/G gas & more for diesel, I have a feeling that there will be many big rigs for sale after this season of camping is over.
Possibly after they feel the burn of all the expenses through the season there will be some rethinking but the fuel prices aren't slowing people down yet. I just returned from a 10 day road trip through CO, UT, NV and AZ where we typically paid $6+/gallon for diesel for our rented Sprinter van. When driving I constantly saw huge motorhomes, fifth wheels and trailers. The only molded fiberglass in the entire trip was one Casita near Zion NP and a Scamp 19 in a parking lot in Moab. The only other modest size trailers I saw were a few Airstream Bambis.
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Old 06-29-2022, 01:06 PM   #16
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Located on the driver door jamb on your tow vehicle should be a manufacturer's minimum octane rating your vehicle needs, as equipped from the factory. I use that guide as well as whether I'll be towing over some mountains which makes the motor work harder. I like the mid-grade choice or if only regular or premium, I alternate so that my fuel is mid-range at any point in time. These are from our factory pickup/Osoyoos/California return trip.
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Old 06-29-2022, 01:29 PM   #17
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Jim I'm guessing that the first photo is from Chilliwack or nearby since the price is 2.25.9 a litre. The most we paid on our trip out to Osoyoos was of course in BC but only 2.07 a litre.

I'm guessing the second pic at 5.59.9 a gallon was in CA, right?
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Old 06-29-2022, 02:59 PM   #18
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Jim, did you get one of those Jumbo Breakfast Burritos after filling up at the Pilot?
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Old 06-29-2022, 02:59 PM   #19
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Jim I'm guessing that the first photo is from Chilliwack or nearby since the price is 2.25.9 a litre. The most we paid on our trip out to Osoyoos was of course in BC but only 2.07 a litre.

I'm guessing the second pic at 5.59.9 a gallon was in CA, right?
You were close on the first one, but it was in Osoyoos. The other one was in Illinois on the return trip.
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Old 06-29-2022, 04:14 PM   #20
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You were close on the first one, but it was in Osoyoos. The other one was in Illinois on the return trip.
But Jim did you go looking for pricey gas in Osoyoos, that's where I paid 2.07? In fact it was at the Petrocan on the Monday after the rally.
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