Every driver in America is feeling the squeeze at the gas pump these days, and some more than others.
The amount of miles per gallon that any given car gets is a big determining factor for a lot of buyers, and it’s not only more environmentally friendly but more financially friendly, as well.
Some drivers may think that only “luxury” cars like Porsches or Ferraris need higher-octane, premium gas, but that’s far from the truth.
In fact, a common car in the United States, the Mini Cooper, drives best on the premium stuff.
But with prices climbing ever higher, Mini Cooper owners may be wondering if they can use the cheaper stuff.
Can A Mini Cooper Run On Regular Gas?
Mini Cooper’s can run on regular gas in the sense that they will still start if you use the wrong octane. There are many good reasons why premium fuel is recommended for your Mini Cooper, but if you absolutely can’t afford premium or you accidentally use the wrong octane, your Mini Cooper will still function.
This may mean shopping around for the best gas prices or limiting your driving when possible.
There are certainly plenty of reasons to choose a higher-octane gas if you’re riding around in a Mini Cooper.
Long-term use of gas that isn’t the type recommended by the manufacturer could cause engine damage and may void your warranty.
These could lead to costly repairs that you would have to pay out of pocket.
And besides, you’re not going to get as many miles to the gallon with regular versus premium gas, so you’re likely not saving that much on the gas itself in the long run.
What Kind of Gas Does a Mini Cooper Use?
According to the manufacturer, the newest Mini Coopers need premium gasoline with an AKI 91 rating.
If you’re driving an older model Mini Cooper, you can find the recommended gas type in your owner’s manual (all of which are available online if you lost yours) or printed on the top of your gas cap.
The minimum fuel grade for a Mini Cooper is AKI 89, which means that even though some gas stations offer AKI 87 and AKI 88 gas, you really shouldn’t use those.
What Does AKI Mean?
AKI stands for Anti-Knock Index, and a higher AKI equates to lower engine knocking.
Engine knocking is something that happens inside your car’s engine when part of the air and fuel mix in your cylinder doesn’t explode where it is supposed to and instead combusts outside of the optimal place.
In the US, when you pull up to a gas pump and see the big numbers on the yellow buttons where you select what type of gas you want, that is the AKI.
What Happens if You Don’t Put Premium Gas in a Mini Cooper?
If you don’t use the gas type recommended for the Mini Cooper, which is normally a premium of AKI 91 or above, then you run the risk of damaging your engine.
As I mentioned, engine knocking can occur, and this not only makes your engine sound bad, but it can do some real damage.
Obviously, car engines are designed very precisely, since they do feature hundreds of controlled explosions every second.
If those explosions start to happen where they’re not supposed to, it’s easy to damage those internal parts of the engine, like the crankshaft, the cylinder structure itself, and the piston.
Since all of those parts are deep inside the engine, they’re costly to repair.
If it’s a one-time thing or someone borrowed your car and didn’t think to ask, “Does mini require premium gas?” before they did the right thing of returning it with a full tank, you’re not likely going to run into any issues.
However, the computer system on board your Mini Cooper can and will adjust the fuel mixture to prevent engine knocking, but this will definitely eat into your engine performance.
Since the engine was designed to work with premium fuel, it’s going to work best with that type of fuel.
In addition to that, you might be on the hook for any engine buildup or cleaning that’s needed if you routinely use the type of gas that’s not recommended.
Using the wrong type consistently could void your car’s warranty, since the company isn’t going to want to pay for something that was damaged by the driver not following their recommendations.
It can be tempting when you pull up to a gas pump to go with a cheaper option, especially these days.
The US Department of Energy’s website states that the automatic 2022 Mini Cooper gets 29 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway, with a combined 32 miles per gallon. A few models listed drop down to 26 or 27 combined mpg, but numbers in the low 30s are typical.
The outlier is, of course, the 2022 Mini SE Hardtop.
The electric version of the Mini Cooper gets the equivalent of 110 combined miles per gallon, but since it doesn’t actually use any gas, we’re not going to count it for our purposes here.
Going back to those gas engines, the numbers on the 2022 models come in at around five miles per gallon more than the average on new cars in the US.
However, the numbers listed by the EPA tend to be a bit generous due to the nature of the testing, and as your car gets older, you’ll likely lose a few miles per gallon as time goes on.
Even so, those higher premium prices can make it tempting to buy lower quality.
But when you go for lower quality gas, your engine is going to get even fewer miles per gallon.
So any money you may have saved at one gas station stop will just be passed on to the next one because you’ll burn through gas more quickly and thus have to fill up more often.
The best way to keep your car running at the highest possible MPG and decrease your gas bill is to keep up with regular maintenance and use the gas recommended by the manufacturer.