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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-15-2006, 11:06 AM
justva justva is offline
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Question Fuel grade for a BMW 325i

I am brand new to the forum, and I have a general question that I would appreciate any help with. I have a 2002 BMW 325i. With the rise in gas prices CNN keeps stating that vehcicles should use regular unleaded gas to decrease costs since it does not make your vehicle run more efficiently. My question is that the owner's manual states that premium gas should be used, however, I've always put midgrade in the tank. Is it ok to downgrade to unleaded gas? Thank you for any advice.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2006, 12:01 PM
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Please search the forum, this has been discussed more than you could ever believe.

In short, you should use premium. Any lower and you will take a performance AND possibly a MPG hit, making the cost savings null.
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Old 04-15-2006, 02:06 PM
Hutchman Hutchman is offline
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The car "performs" better with premium. I don't need to perform so I have always used regular. The car runs great. I see you have a 325i, same as mine. If you had a 330, you might want to put something better in it.
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Old 04-15-2006, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutchman
The car "performs" better with premium. I don't need to perform so I have always used regular. The car runs great. I see you have a 325i, same as mine. If you had a 330, you might want to put something better in it.

The 325 has a higher compression ratio than the 330! It makes more sense to put premium in a 325 than it does a 330.

(10.5:1 for the 325i vs 10.2:1 for the 330i)
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Old 04-15-2006, 02:12 PM
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I used mid-grade consistently most of the winter, but recently noticed the car not feeling quite right. I let the tank get pretty close to empty, filled with 93 octane, and I could really tell the difference even though I don't drive the car hard. I think that driving it with the ignition always having to be retarded due to the lower octane rating is OK once in a while, but over time it will have a detriimental effect on the engine.
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Old 04-15-2006, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougG
I used mid-grade consistently most of the winter, but recently noticed the car not feeling quite right. I let the tank get pretty close to empty, filled with 93 octane, and I could really tell the difference even though I don't drive the car hard. I think that driving it with the ignition always having to be retarded due to the lower octane rating is OK once in a while, but over time it will have a detriimental effect on the engine.

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Old 04-15-2006, 09:40 PM
allaboutme allaboutme is offline
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Isn't ALL gas in the US Unleaded?
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  #8  
Old 04-15-2006, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allaboutme
Isn't ALL gas in the US Unleaded?
Well, they do sell 110LL and 114LL (low lead) up at the racetracks around here...
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Old 04-15-2006, 09:50 PM
allaboutme allaboutme is offline
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I can't see 110 octane gas, leaded or not, providing any performance advantages on an engine not designed for it.
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Old 04-15-2006, 10:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justva
I am brand new to the forum, and I have a general question that I would appreciate any help with. I have a 2002 BMW 325i. With the rise in gas prices CNN keeps stating that vehcicles should use regular unleaded gas to decrease costs since it does not make your vehicle run more efficiently. My question is that the owner's manual states that premium gas should be used, however, I've always put midgrade in the tank. Is it ok to downgrade to unleaded gas? Thank you for any advice.
To save money, I use vegetable oil and grass clippings with a dash of plutonium: 1.21 Gigawatts at 88MPH gets me where I want to go!
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  #11  
Old 04-15-2006, 10:23 PM
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Patrick330i Patrick330i is offline
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Good stuff from Kris.

VA, I know it can be painful at the pump sometimes filling up. There is no reason why we should have to pay $3 a gallon for 91/92/93 octane (depending on where you live), but that is the price right now. In the long run, it works itself out on pricing (as others have alluded to), plus your car runs as well as it can assuming nothing else is going on.

On occasion, I have been tempted to downgrade to mid-grade gas just once or twice. Have never done it. Once you do it, it is probably easier to do it whenever you want. I have stuck with Premium and I don't look back. It's just the cost of running the car.

If you are running mid-grade and are happy with it, I guess you can stick with it, but I don't recommend dropping to 87. Speaking of 87, I seem to recall some southern states running 86 octane as Regular Unleaded. Is that right?
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Old 04-15-2006, 11:03 PM
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For an extra two bucks and change per tankfull, put in the good stuff. If that breaks the budget then you shouldn't be driving an '02 BMW anyhow.
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Old 04-16-2006, 08:00 AM
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Wow I think we should set up a dedicated forum just to discuss this topic: "Fuel grade questions".

Like others have said, if in doubt, use premium. You MAY use mid-grade in cooler weather or city driving, but you're really not saving much. Don't even think about regular.
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Old 04-16-2006, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick330i
If you are running mid-grade and are happy with it, I guess you can stick with it, but I don't recommend dropping to 87. Speaking of 87, I seem to recall some southern states running 86 octane as Regular Unleaded. Is that right?

I haven't heard of any state at a reasonably low elevation running 86..

...I mention elevation because if you are not aware, not as much octane is required to prevent detonation as elevation increases. I've seen 85 octane regular and 89 octane premium at higher elevations (areas of CO, WY for example).
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Old 04-16-2006, 04:44 PM
windnsea00 windnsea00 is offline
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I never understood why people ask this. If paying ~$3 extra per tank is really too much than you should've known that before buying the car. Most european cars take premium because they tend to use smaller engines with high compression instead of the american way of larger size that just relies on torque to tug itself around but with lower compression so it can safely run 87. I'm only 20 but in my 4 cars I've had so far, each one has required 91 octane so I knew if I wanted to get the most performance, fuel mileage and longevity out of the engine I would run what is required. They don't write it in the owners manual in bold for no reason. I would think the small difference in price is well worth the ownership of the car. If running 87 was my goal in life than I could've bought a Corolla or Taurus and call it a day.
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  #16  
Old 04-16-2006, 08:18 PM
tom busby tom busby is offline
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A couplle years ago I went on a 1000 mile trip and compared the gas mileage of regular vs. premium in a '95 318i. I lost almost 2 mpg on the regular gas.

So when regular is more than 6% cheaper than premium, it can save money.

But, a 325 will probably lose 3 mpg due to the higher compression ratio, so regular would have to be 9% or more cheaper.
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  #17  
Old 04-16-2006, 09:35 PM
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FenPhen FenPhen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom busby
So when regular is more than 6% cheaper than premium, it can save money.
The thing people are missing is that the premium for premium is almost always a fixed cost. For as long as I can remember, premium is typically 20 cents more than regular, regardless of the price of regular.

The cost difference to fill up with premium in 1998 is no different than it is today. Think of it as paying 20 cents per gallon for octane additive, and that cost doesn't change; only the gasoline cost does. So use what your car wants: premium.
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