Leaded, Unleaded, Octane, Oh My
Have you ever wondered what exactly is the difference between gas types? It’s a very specific thing to think about, but hey! It’s pretty interesting. Keep reading for our Quick And Dirty Gas Types Guide!
Q: What are the numbers?
A: The numbers indicate the octane levels.
Q: What is octane?
A: Isooctane, aka “octane,” is a hydrocarbon in gas leftover from when it was oil.
Q: Why do we care about octane?
A: There are other hydrocarbons in gas, but they have a lower ignition temperature. Octane has a higher ignition temperature and so it can take more pressure from the pistons before it combusts, which gives the engine a higher performance.
Q: Yeah but, like, why do we care about it???
A: When the combustion in your engine is too early, it creates a knock. Octane eliminates the knock.
Q: So if I use higher octane gas it’ll make my engine better?
A: Unfortunately no. You’ll waste money unless your engine specifically needs the higher octane stuff.
Q: What is unleaded?
A: Well, before we started caring about people’s health, a cheap way to have more octane in gas was to add tetraethyl lead to it.
Q: Wait, what?
A: Yeah, there was lead in gas and people were getting very sick because of it but it was cheap so nobody really cared until the 90s!
Q: But how long was this happening for?
A: They figured out the lead thing in the 1920s.
A: Since tetraethyl lead was fully outlawed from being in gasoline in the late 1990s, the average level of lead in the blood of Americans has gone down by 75%.
Q: Okay but –
A: ISN’T MODERNITY GREAT!!