Fuel economy is one of those buzzwords surrounding the purchase of a vehicle. And while fuel efficiency is important, what is often overlooked is fuel grade and type. Most cars still run on gasoline today, but there are other alternatives available on the market. We’ve broken down several to help inform your driving experience.
Most cars still run on gasoline, but when you go to the pump there are still a few different options. What does this mean? Technically there are three levels of gasoline when you’re at the pump: regular, mid-grade and premium. Contrary to belief, a higher grade doesn’t always mean your car will run more efficiently or keep your fuel system cleaner. Each level contains a different grade of octane. The octane grade just represents the measure of the fuel’s ability to resist prematurely detonating in the engine. The higher the grade, the more pressure the fuel can withstand. To read more about octane levels and which one is right for your vehicle, check out our blog.
Diesel fuel is a non-renewable resource fuel like gasoline. However, it puts less carbon dioxide into the air, and has an average fuel economy that is thirty percent better than most gasoline-powered vehicles. Some sedans can operate on diesel, but for the most part, diesel-powered vehicles are larger and are typically used for transport. The downside to diesel is the production of smog due to the emission of organic compounds and nitrous oxide cast into the air.
Propane, sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum, is a cleaner fuel alternative than gasoline or diesel. It doesn’t emit the amount of toxins gasoline and diesel do, and it doesn’t produce smog. The only downside to propane is that it is not readily available in the States. To utilize this fuel source, you would need to have a gasoline-powered engine converted.
Ethanol is a popular fuel source because it can be used in gasoline-powered vehicles without alteration. It’s typically made up of the conversion of corn, barley, sugar cane and other natural components. You can find ethanol options at most gas stations today, just look for the "E" with an additional number, which is the percentage of ethanol added to the gasoline. E-10 is a common option.
Biodiesel & CNG
There are other alternatives that you may be familiar with, such as biodiesel and compressed natural gas, or CNG. CNG fuels are not readily available in the US and require a specific engine. Biodiesel became popular at the turn of the century, but has since been determined to be less environmentally friendly than originally thought. While it may seem like a clean alternative, production of the substance over time could lead to massive deforestation.
When purchasing a vehicle, do some research as to what type of fuel can be used as-is. If you would like to modify the engine to use a cleaner source, such as propane, be sure to take the vehicle to a professional and avoid doing the conversion yourself. If you would like to limit your emissions in the environment as your car is now, think about seeking out gas stations that offer ethanol alternatives!