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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 07-28-2008, 11:27 AM
Say MMMM Say MMMM is offline
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What Gas? Octane? Ethanol?

Just seeing what kind of gas you have good experience with. I have chipped to 93 octane. Can I put a higher octane in it? Is it better to use gas without ethanol?
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  #2  
Old 07-28-2008, 03:27 PM
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When I lived in SC, I had good experiences with BP. I'm currently running on Sunoco. As far as ethanol goes, it's like taxes...no way to escape it, 'cept for maybe race fuel.

BMW recommends running on top tier gasolines. There's a whole website on it.

I run the highest octane I can find, usually 93.
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  #3  
Old 07-28-2008, 09:36 PM
NJREDZ06 NJREDZ06 is offline
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Old 07-29-2008, 03:49 AM
ANILE8 ANILE8 is offline
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ALWAYS use the highest octane fuel you can buy in your ///M

I forgot how good us Aussies have it down under.....

In Australia 98 octane gasoline is commonly available from nearly every service station in all the major cities and most of the smaller country towns aswell. Either fron BP, Shell, Caltex or Mobil, they all make 98 octane over here.

I knew we were called the 'Lucky Country' for something
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:10 AM
caseysc1 caseysc1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dammmittt View Post
When I lived in SC, I had good experiences with BP. I'm currently running on Sunoco. As far as ethanol goes, it's like taxes...no way to escape it, 'cept for maybe race fuel.

BMW recommends running on top tier gasolines. There's a whole website on it.

I run the highest octane I can find, usually 93.
BTW, BP is not listed as TopTier gas. Here in SC I use Shell premium which is 93 octane. No issues at this point, but I also use Techron every 3K miles.

If you are wondering about Ethanol, here is quote from the Toptier web site on Ethanol content:

"1.3.1.2 Base Fuel. The base fuel shall conform to ASTM D 4814 and shall contain commercial fuel grade ethanol conforming to ASTM D 4806. All gasoline blend stocks used to formulate the base fuel shall be representative of normal U.S. refinery operations and shall be derived from conversion units downstream of distillation. Butanes and pentanes are allowed for vapor pressure adjustment. The use of chemical streams is prohibited. The base fuel shall have the following specific properties after the addition of ethanol:

Contain enough denatured ethanol such that the actual ethanol content is no less than 8.0 and no more than 10.0 volume percent.
Contain no less than 8 volume percent olefins. At least 75% of the olefins shall be derived from FCC gasoline as defined by CARB (advisory letter, April 19, 2001).
Contain no less than 28 volume percent aromatics.
Contain no less than 48 mg/kg sulfur. At least 60% of the sulfur shall be derived from FCC blend stock.
Produce a 90% evaporation distillation temperature no less than 290°F.
Produce IVD no less than 500 mg averaged over all intake valves."
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Last edited by caseysc1; 07-29-2008 at 05:14 AM.
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  #6  
Old 07-29-2008, 06:10 AM
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dug01 dug01 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ANILE8 View Post
ALWAYS use the highest octane fuel you can buy in your ///M

I forgot how good us Aussies have it down under.....

In Australia 98 octane gasoline is commonly available from nearly every service station in all the major cities and most of the smaller country towns aswell. Either fron BP, Shell, Caltex or Mobil, they all make 98 octane over here.

I knew we were called the 'Lucky Country' for something
Taken from Wikipedia about world wide octane ratings--
"[edit] Measurement methods
The most common type of octane rating worldwide is the Research Octane Number (RON). RON is determined by running the fuel in a test engine with a variable compression ratio under controlled conditions, and comparing the results with those for mixtures of iso-octane and n-heptane.

There is another type of octane rating, called Motor Octane Number (MON) or the aviation lean octane rating, which is a better measure of how the fuel behaves when under load. MON testing uses a similar test engine to that used in RON testing, but with a preheated fuel mixture, a higher engine speed, and variable ignition timing to further stress the fuel's knock resistance. Depending on the composition of the fuel, the MON of a modern gasoline will be about 8 to 10 points lower than the RON. Normally fuel specifications require both a minimum RON and a minimum MON.

In most countries (including all of Europe and Australia) the "headline" octane rating, shown on the pump, is the RON, but in the United States, Canada and some other countries the headline number is the average of the RON and the MON, sometimes called the Anti-Knock Index (AKI), Road Octane Number (RdON), Pump Octane Number (PON), or (R+M)/2. Because of the 8 to 10 point difference noted above, the octane shown in the United States is 4 to 5 points lower than the same fuel elsewhere: 87 octane fuel, the "regular" gasoline in the US and Canada, is 91-92 in Europe. However most European pumps deliver 95 (RON) as "regular", equivalent to 90-91 US (R+M)/2, and some even deliver 98 (RON) or 100 (RON).[citation needed]

The octane rating may also be a "trade name", the actual figure being higher than the nominal rating.[citation needed]

It is possible for a fuel to have a RON greater than 100, because iso-octane is not the most knock-resistant substance available. Racing fuels, straight ethanol, AvGas and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) typically have octane ratings of 110 or significantly higher - ethanol's RON is 129 (MON 102, AKI 116) reference[1]. Typical "octane booster" additives include tetra-ethyl lead, MTBE and toluene. Tetra-ethyl lead is easily decomposed to its component radicals, which react with the radicals from the fuel and oxygen that start the combustion, thereby delaying ignition. This is why leaded gasoline has a higher octane rating than unleaded."


It appears that the numbers mean different things...
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  #7  
Old 07-29-2008, 07:03 AM
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Dammmittt Dammmittt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseysc1 View Post
BTW, BP is not listed as TopTier gas. Here in SC I use Shell premium which is 93 octane. No issues at this point, but I also use Techron every 3K miles.
Yeah...but every time I fill up with Shell my car idles rough.
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  #8  
Old 07-29-2008, 08:12 AM
NJREDZ06 NJREDZ06 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dammmittt View Post
Yeah...but every time I fill up with Shell my car idles rough.

It may just be that particular station, and not the brand.
Here in NJ over 300 stations were recently fined, temporarily closed or permanently closed due to an audit by the states weights and measures dept.
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  #9  
Old 07-29-2008, 09:50 AM
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Dammmittt Dammmittt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJREDZ06 View Post
It may just be that particular station, and not the brand.
Here in NJ over 300 stations were recently fined, temporarily closed or permanently closed due to an audit by the states weights and measures dept.
Good point, for now though, Sunoco works fine, and is a convenient stop for me.
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  #10  
Old 07-29-2008, 10:28 AM
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I use CA 91. Car hasn't blown up yet.
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:33 AM
Wil325 Wil325 is offline
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My 535i threw an "Engine Malfunction! Reduced power" icon at me last month. At the same time, my engine was running so rough that it felt like a Harley Davidson. Anyhow, took it into the shop to have it looked at. They suspected a fuel pump problem but they couldn't warranty the pump because the Ethanol content was too high (I think they measured it at 14%). They told me it needed to be below 9% (that's impossible in my state as 10 percent is the minimum permitted). My options were to pay them $150 to drain my tank and refill the car with Shell gas OR continue to drive it until the gas was almost empty and refill it myself (I went with option two).

Refueled with new gas and the car wasn't any better. Took the car back in but they still wouldn't replace the pump (FYI - the BMW shop I took it to wanted to replace the pump but BMW national wouldn't authorize it). Anyways, when I brought the car back in the Ethanol was at 10%; a bit better. Consequently, under the the better gas (ie, lower ethanol), they were able to 'reset' the computer and the car is running fine again.

Lesson learned: I used to fill up at any ol' gas station, but now I only go to Shell or Marathon. These cars can't handle Ethanol - period!
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  #12  
Old 07-29-2008, 01:28 PM
caseysc1 caseysc1 is offline
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Quote:
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Lesson learned: I used to fill up at any ol' gas station, but now I only go to Shell or Marathon. These cars can't handle Ethanol - period!
Again, Toptier rated fuel has no less than 8% and no more than 10% ethanol by volume. So, BMWs run fine as long as the ethanol, by volume, is less than or equal to 10%. Read the "Deposit Control" link, Section 1.3.1.2, on http://www.toptiergas.com/ or read my post above.
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  #13  
Old 07-29-2008, 06:09 PM
NJREDZ06 NJREDZ06 is offline
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I had the same problem in my Corvette Z06, what happened was that the fuel level sender would malfunction with the high ethanol mixed fuels. I checked the vette msg boards and found that this was a common problem and the fix was Chevron additive added with a full tank of top tier fuel. My tank was reading empty even though there was fuel in the tank, but after the additive and a Shell 93 fill up, my sender worked fine.

Weird how sensitive these cars can be.
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  #14  
Old 08-16-2008, 11:32 AM
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Exactly, US 93 is the same fuel as overseas 97/98. Different rating numbers. But the MON is not always 10 points under the RON. A few years back, BMW found engines were being destroyed by long high speed runs, even runniing 97/98 RON fuel. They found that in all cases, the fuels MON was too low. So they state you should not run a fuel where the MON is more than 10 points lower than the RON. IOW, 91 or 93 AKI depending on the car.

That said, most engines will not perform better with fuel with a high AKI/RON than that specified by the manufacturer. Some do. The S54 in the 2001 and later MZs and E46 M3s gains performance up to about 96 AKI (50/50 mix of 93 and Sunoco GT100, AKI 98). I find the E46 M3 and the LTW both run better on GT100, they seem more response if rev better. I have not tried it in the Roadster.

But running a low AKI fuel may cost performance and actually increase fuel usage (lower gas mileage) as the computer is reducing performance to reduce detonation.
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  #15  
Old 08-16-2008, 11:48 AM
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Good info on ethanol in gasoline here..

http://www.fuel-testers.com/state_gu...anol_laws.html

Note that:

1/ not all states require a sticker on the pump if the gasoline contains ethanol
2/ octane rating can drop quickly if the ethanol is old or contains water
3/ not all the gasoline out there contains ethanol - it varies by location
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Old 06-06-2009, 06:55 AM
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Top Tier Fuel

I did not know about this until reading here as I am fairly new to my Z3. I have tried over the past few days to access the the Top Tier website without success. Is it no longer active? I've used the links in this thread and done a Google search.
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:02 AM
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Top Tier Gasoline Retailers:

76
Chevron
Conoco
Entec Stations
Kwik Trip/Kwik Star
MFA Oil Company
Phillips
QuikTrip
Shell
Somerset Refinery
Texaco
Tri-Par Oil Company

Canada:
Petro-Canada
Shell-Canada
Sunoco-Canada
Chevron-Canada

Hawaii:
Aloha Petroleum
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:36 AM
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Sunoco's 260GT fuel (100 Octane) makes my car run awesome. With the ESS tune the car really performs. At $7 gallon it is not cheap, but makes for a great day at the track.
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Old 06-06-2009, 08:16 AM
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I try to run Shell V-Power (93 US octane) as often as possible and Sunoco 93 as a second choice. And I try to stay away from BP since they run (supposedly) 10% Ethanol all year round. Incidentally, I usually get the best mileage with Shell as well.

That being said, on my VW GTI I have had bad luck with one particular Shell station around here- car smelt of rotten eggs every time I would fill up there (high sulphur in the gas probably) and not when I filled elsewhere. Never take the M there.

Every now and then when I am close to empty on a track, I throw in a few gallons of the Sunoco 100 in there to complete the day. The car seems to run smoother - not sure if it is quicker though since I am still on the stock ECU/DME.

Last edited by pal; 06-06-2009 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle ken View Post
Top Tier Gasoline Retailers:

76
Chevron
Conoco
Entec Stations
Kwik Trip/Kwik Star
MFA Oil Company
Phillips
QuikTrip
Shell
Somerset Refinery
Texaco
Tri-Par Oil Company
Thanks for the fast response. I've already started running higher octane gas. We don't have a lot of the above stations around here, anyone know if Kwik Fill is the same as Kwik Trip/star, I am assuming they are the same refinery based on the spelling.
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:34 PM
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I had carbon deposit issues running 76 for the Los Angeles area 76 stations. It took 2 big doses of Techron to clean it out.

I generally stick to Chevron or Shell these days.

NB: Some old magazine tests on the E46 M3 showed that the S54 performance peaked out at about 95 octane (stock engine software). So don't waste money filing with just 100 octane, do a mix to get into the 95 / 96 range.
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:19 PM
skyjmpr skyjmpr is offline
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Originally Posted by Scubapiper View Post
Thanks for the fast response. I've already started running higher octane gas. We don't have a lot of the above stations around here, anyone know if Kwik Fill is the same as Kwik Trip/star, I am assuming they are the same refinery based on the spelling.
Refinery may have nothing to do with it. It's the specs of the 'brand' (like Shell, Conoco, etc) that determines what's in the fuel.
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  #23  
Old 05-23-2010, 10:07 PM
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Just crossed the border into Canada yesterday (from Seattle) and discovered Chevron's 94 Octane with zero ethanol
I wonder why the US doesn't get this stuff...
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Old 05-23-2010, 11:55 PM
Daneborough Daneborough is offline
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Both my (recent) Z4M and (current) 335i have stickers inside the filler cap quoting "minimum 95 RON" - I've always used 98 RON in both cars when available but never less than 95 RON on occasion when necessary, and never had any issues with either - personal preference is Shell, but will use BP as second choice, or Caltex as last resort
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:46 AM
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It's my understanding that Ethanol is mixed at the station so ethanol % is completely up to human error. To this point, even amongst "Top Tier" stations, you'll get a larger variance of % between different stations and even the same station. Ethanol is great for engines that are made for it it really bad for those that aren't. It's also banned as an aviation fuel because it has a short shelf life, lowers power, and generally eats engine parts that aren't specifically made to handle ethanol.
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