Keep Your Premium Car, Ditch The Premium Gas

According to an article in the New York Times, some drivers of cars that are supposed to be fueled with premium-grade gasoline are switching to regular gas in an attempt to soothe their wallets. It's all about appearances, after all. Those big illuminated numbers that stare you down every time you fill up at the pump are getting bigger and scarier. But who wants to give up their premium car? Why not just give up the premium gas?

We're sure there's plenty of us that have pulled the "octane diet" routine before. But while we may have guiltily pumped mid-grade in our octane-craving machines once or twice when we were in a pinch for cash, these drivers seem to be making the step down from high-octane for good — and without fear of consequences. While it's hard to say how much any potential mechanical damage would actually cost you in the future, why bother taking the risk? Mercedes driver Steve Altman says,"The only thing I've noticed is more money in my wallet." According to data from the Energy Department, In 2007, premium accounted for 9.4 percent of all gasoline sales in the United States, down slightly from 9.5 percent the year before. Ten years ago, premium gas held 16.6 percent of the market.

What makes us really stop and scratch our heads is that, relative to regular gas, the price of premium is pretty cheap in a lot of places. What we mean is that many gas stations are still using the old $0.10 increments between regular, mid-Grade and premium. We know it's not the same everywhere, but for the places that do still have mid-grade for ten cents more than regular, and premium at ten cents more than mid-grade, the upgrade to premium is relatively more affordable than it's been in a long time. So, if you could afford the extra $0.20 per gallon back when prices were just $2.00, couldn't you still afford it now that you're paying $4.00 per gallon? Are the times really that tight, or is it (as we suspect) the fact that $4.00 per gallon is so offensive to us that $4.20 per gallon is simply unacceptable?

[NY Times]