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Why Do We Care?

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    All of this is important solely for determining the ideal octane for your engine. You don't want to use an octane lower than is best for your engine, since lower octane gasoline puts a lot of strain on an engine, and using it on a regular basis not only reduces engine power (force used to push an engine backwards is not force used efficiently), but can also destroy an engine in a short period of time, since engines are not designed to withstand these extra forces. New engines are not cheap, nor is the labor required to install them, not to mention the time involved where you can't use your car. However, it is also good to not use too high octane rated gasoline, for several reasons. The obvious and most important one is cost; higher octane gas is expensive, especially today.

    The best way to determine the correct octane for your car is to follow the recommended number given by the car's manufacturer.  If the precise recommended amount is not available, it is best to get the next grade up available.  It is also possible to go to an auto parts store and buy an octane enricher, which works to prevent spontaneous combustion of n-Heptane and thus increase the apparant octane rating of a gasoline.  It is also possible to mix octanes, as they are a mixture to begin with, but it is difficult to thoroughly mix something way down in a gas tank, so this strategy is not recommended.  If your engine encounters 'engine knock', switch to a higher octane gasoline to prevent damage.

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