Premium gas is really expensive, but octane boosters can be even more expensive.
Octane boosters are fairly deceptively marketed and not terribly useful for cars that need premium fuel.
Can I Use Octane Booster Instead of Premium Gas?
It is very difficult to use octane boosters instead of premium gas. Most octane boosters only boost octane by less than one point per bottle, meaning that in order to turn regular gas into high octane gas, a driver will need several bottles of octane booster.
But if octane boosters can’t help with gas problems what are they used for?
And is it really cheaper just to buy premium gas than it is to try and use boosters? Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Octane Boosters?
In order to get an idea of why octane boosters are not really an economically feasible way to solve the problem of expensive premium gas, we need to have an idea of what octane boosters actually do to increase the octane level of fuel.
Octane boosters use one of a number of anti-knock agents to increase the combustion point of your fuel.
This is what makes the fuel less likely to detonate at the wrong time and prevents engine knock.
There are lots of different anti-knock agents that octane boosters can use, but they all do the same thing, just in different ways.
The efficacy of an octane booster is measured in points.
One point is an increase of one-tenth of an octane, meaning that an octane booster that provides a boost of 1 will increase 87 octane gas to 87.1 octane gas. Herein lies the primary problem.
While some octane boosters are able to boost levels to up to three points, Many don’t work as advertised or only increase octane by five to ten points.
When this is the case, it can end up taking a lot of booster to raise the octane to where you need it. Even if it’s rated for three points, you’ll still need to use two whole bottles to take a tank of regular gas and turn it into the high-octane gas that you need for a fancy engine.
High-quality octane boosters can cost more than ten dollars per can, which you need to exhaust entirely to boost your fuel’s octane levels.
Some octane boosters also use anti-knock agents that cause serious damage to catalytic converters and other sensitive car parts.
While many are fine for your car, some do carry with them serious risks.
Are Octane Boosters More Expensive Than Premium Fuel?
It will take a bit of math to find out if octane boosters more expensive than premium fuel.
We’ll assume that you’re using a mid-grade booster, that you’d need two of to get from 87 octane to 93 octane, and that you’ll be purchasing 24 gallons of gas.
Premium gas costs 60 extra cents for every gallon that you buy compared to regular gas.
This means that the 24 gallons of premium gas will cost a flat $14 extra.
Now if you buy 87 octane gas instead, you’ll need to increase the octane at least higher than 91 to get your high-performance engine to work.
In order to raise the octane from 87 to 91, you can either buy two bottles of fourteen-dollar octane booster, or one bottle of twenty-seven-dollar octane booster.
You may have noticed this, but fourteen times two is actually a higher number than fourteen! This means that functional octane boosters are, for the most part, more expensive than just buying premium gas.
The previous example uses a fairly high-quality octane booster.
If we used an average octane booster, which boosts octane by only eight points (0.8 octane,) the comparison would be even more fatal.
One bottle of a fairly common eight-point octane booster brand costs about five dollars.
In order to raise the octane of a tank of fuel from 87 octane to 91 octane, you would need at least five bottles, since each bottle will raise the octane by only 0.8.
Because of this, in order to use boosters to increase your octane from 87 to 91 using these octane boosters, you’ll need to pay at least 25 dollars.
Using Octane Boosters Instead Of Premium Gas
For the most part, the reason that high-performance engines need premium gas is for the high octane levels.
With enough octane boosters, you can get that same effect.
However, there isn’t really any good reason to do so, as just getting the premium gas costs much less than it does to use an octane booster.
That being said, if you were able to find an octane booster that was potent enough that you didn’t have to flood your entire engine with the stuff for it to have any effect, you could use it instead of premium gas in a pinch.
It doesn’t matter how your engine comes across the high-octane fuel it needs after all.
On the other hand, while most octane boosters are totally safe, be on the lookout for ingredients such as ferrocene and iron pentacarbonyl, which can have deteriorating effects on sparkplugs and catalytic converters because of the iron oxide they tend to produce.
There are others that can cause damage to cars over time as well, so research is key here.
What Is the Point of Octane Boosters?
Why even have octane boosters around if they aren’t going to do anything useful for anyone? While octane boosters are pretty useless for cars that need premium fuel, they can be useful for racers looking for an edge.
Normal premium fuel doesn’t get a higher octane than 93 in typical circumstances, but with the addition of octane boosters, it can easily hop up to one hundred and beyond!
Octane boosters can also help engines that are having a lot of trouble with engine knocking.
While this is one of their most common uses, it isn’t actually much better at this than premium fuel is for more money.
So, if you are having trouble with engine knocking, it’s a much cheaper solution to just fill up with premium gas.