Premium Fuel and Turbochargers: Does using it in a turbo engine give you more power?
This is a complicated question, so let’s jump right into it.
Does premium fuel give your engine more power?
Premium Fuel, Turbochargers, and Engine Performance
The short answer is that is depends on which octane rating the manufacturer designed the engine to run on. For instance, Honda recommends that the Honda CR-V use regular octane fuel in its 1.5L turbo-four. Tests show that premium fuel doesn’t increase power output in anyway. In older vehicles, it could actually decrease the power. However, in vehicles like the BMW M5 with a twin-turbo 4.4L V8, the Ford F-150 with a twin-turbo 3.5L V6, or the Mazda CX-5 with a 2.5L turbo-four, premium fuel is recommended and increases both horsepower and torque.
Why Does Octane Rating Matter?
Octane rating is a measurement of a fuel’s stability; the higher the octane, the higher its stability, and the less likely it is to spontaneously combust at the wrong place and time in the engine cylinder. Combustion engines are at maximum power when the controlled explosion in an engine happens at the tip of a cylinder’s spark plug, forcing the piston back down. An engine designed to produce maximum power on lower octane fuels will not benefit from increased stability.
Think of it like TV resolutions. If you’re paying for 4K resolution support on Netflix, but you are watching on a 1080p TV, the resolution you see won’t go higher than 1080p, even if the signal being sent to your TV is 4K. However, if you have a 4K TV, you can still watch a Netflix show at 1080p, but it will only be shown in 1080p or an upscaled version of that instead of 4K.