"Acura's Client Services (ACS) has thoughts on ill-advised owner attempts to beat stratospheric premium fuel prices by using regular unleaded instead. In a word: don't. Your Acura is designed to operate on 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline. If you're stranded and can't access premium, then 87 octane regular unleaded will see you home, but don't make a habit of using regular gasoline. You want the best possible performance from your Acura-and peak performance demands the correct fuel."Here is a USAToday.com article on using Regular Vs. Premium gas. Highlights include:
"I personally use regular even though my owner's manual says you'll get better performance with premium," says Lewis Gibbs, consulting engineer and 45-year veteran at Chevron oil company. He's chairman of Technical Committee 7 on Fuels, part of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Fuels & Lubricants Council. Gibbs knows gas.
The main advantage of premium-grade gas is that it allows automakers to advertise a few more horsepower by designing and tuning engines to take advantage of premium's anti-knock properties. But auto engineers generally agree that if you use regular in a premium engine, the power loss is so slight, most drivers can't tell.
"I go back and forth, and I'm hard-pressed to notice" whether there's regular or premium in the tank, says Jeff Jetter, principal chemist at Honda Research and Development Americas. He drives an Acura designed for premium.Import brands, especially, use premium fuel to distinguish their upmarket models. Most Toyotas, for instance, are designed to run on regular or midgrade, while the automaker's Lexus luxury brand prefers premium. Same with Honda and its Acura luxury line.
Today's engines use highly evolved versions of a device called a knock sensor to adjust settings automatically for low-octane gas. And more engine control computers have adequate memory to allow separate sets of instructions for various octanes. The engine control computers keep pushing to maximize performance on whatever grade of fuel is used.
The only modern engines that should really need premium are those with superchargers, which force-feed fuel into the cylinders. "You're driving along and just tramp the gas and the knock sensor cannot sense the knock fast enough in some cases," because the supercharger boosts pressure so fast, says Bob Furey, chemist and fuels specialist at General Motors.
Burning regular when the owner's manual specifies premium won't void the warranty, nor damage the engine, even the most finicky automakers say. "You're giving up perhaps just a little bit of performance that a customer wouldn't really even notice, it's so slight," says Furey.
Automakers say they don't test premium engines on regular to check the difference, but some auto engineers estimate that power declines roughly 5%.