Hello Chris, Generally, engines with compression ratios of 9.3 : 1 or less will safely operate with unleaded 87 octane fuel. Engines with higher compression ratios usually require higher octane fuels. Only engines with high compression ratios can deliver all the potential energy from higher octane fuels! Always consult the manufacturer's octane recommendation to determine the proper octane requirements for any given vehicle.
No, premium fuel will not hurt your heads, in fact it may run better if you do a lot of freeway driving.
For vehicles that require a minimum of 87 octane, running regular unleaded all the time is recommended. The engine and on-board computer have been configured to achieve the best performance and fuel economy with regular unleaded in the tank. Putting in a higher octane fuel will not damage the vehicle, but the vehicle will not know how to handle the additional octane. There will be no performance boost from running premium fuel in a vehicle that only requires regular octane fuel. On the flip side, if a vehicle requires premium fuel, then put premium fuel in it. Certain turbo engines, and many high-performance engines require the extra octane to achieve peak performance. For brief periods of time, a lesser octane can be used, but the system will cut performance and not run well while doing so. Fuel economy also may suffer when running regular unleaded in a premium-only vehicle. Some vehicles have the ability to adapt extremely-well to what fuel is in the system. If the computer senses 87 octane, the car programs itself for the best performance with that fuel. If it senses 93, it will adapt to that. In those unique situations, running the higher octane usually means more horsepower and torque. Once again, your owners manual will provide the recommended fuel requirements for your vehicle.
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