Leaded, Unleaded, Octane, Oh My

January 12th, 2018 by


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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.

Q: What.

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 –



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