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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
The E9X is the 4th evolution of the BMW 3 series including a highly tuned twin turbo 335i variant pushing out 300hp and 300 ft. lbs. of torque. BMW continues to show that it sets the bar for true driving performance! -- View the E9X Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-16-2013, 10:52 AM
Nickh Nickh is offline
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Gas Pump Strategies

I've always been intrigued as to what what/which gas octane to use.
Years earlier when gas were $1 - $2/gal, I had no worries about filling up my Corvettes with Premium gas 93 octane.
But as gas prices crept up these years, I began to fill our other BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Lincolns & Jeeps with just Reg 87 octane.
Price at sea level Houston TX are:
Reg 87 octane: $3.39
Mid 89 octane: $3.50
Prem 93 octane: $3.76

My current 6 cylinder 2013 328i conv lists 89 octane. But I've been filling my 740iL for over 10 yrs now (requires Prem 91 octane), with reg 87 octane gas, with no pinging nor knocking nor sluggishness.
We have tons of oil/gas refineries here in the Houston metro areas, & most of the petro engineers I've talked to says that as long as the engine doesn't knock, there's no need to use premium/ high octane gas.

Let's say I fill up 20 gallons a wk, for 50 wks, that's 1000 gallons a yr.
The 11 cents difference is $111 a yr for Mid, & 37 cents diff is $370 a yr for Prem over reg gas.

So, is it worth it to skimp on higher octane gas?
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  #2  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:07 AM
e92josh e92josh is offline
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I would never put anything less than the best in my premium car. No way.

Despite what anybody says, nothing but the best for mine. Even if it's over and beyond factory spec.
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  #3  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:12 AM
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Kilgore Trout Kilgore Trout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
I've always been intrigued as to what what/which gas octane to use.
Years earlier when gas were $1 - $2/gal, I had no worries about filling up my Corvettes with Premium gas 93 octane.
But as gas prices crept up these years, I began to fill our other BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Lincolns & Jeeps with just Reg 87 octane.
Price at sea level Houston TX are:
Reg 87 octane: $3.39
Mid 89 octane: $3.50
Prem 93 octane: $3.76

My current 6 cylinder 2013 328i conv lists 89 octane. But I've been filling my 740iL for over 10 yrs now (requires Prem 91 octane), with reg 87 octane gas, with no pinging nor knocking nor sluggishness.
We have tons of oil/gas refineries here in the Houston metro areas, & most of the petro engineers I've talked to says that as long as the engine doesn't knock, there's no need to use premium/ high octane gas.

Let's say I fill up 20 gallons a wk, for 50 wks, that's 1000 gallons a yr.
The 11 cents difference is $111 a yr for Mid, & 37 cents diff is $370 a yr for Prem over reg gas.

So, is it worth it to skimp on higher octane gas?

The engine won't knock with whatever gas you use. The knock sensor will simply retard firing to prevent it.

The bigger issue is that the engine will have less power, run less smoothly, and give you lower MPG with 87.

Here, in California, we don't have 93, only 87, 89, and 91. I've experimented and found that 87 leaves me with a noticeable loss in performance - especially on the highway. 89 vs. 91 is more negligible.

I run exclusively 91 now.
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  #4  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:16 AM
GoBlue5 GoBlue5 is offline
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You are paying a pretty hefty premium for these cars, don't quite understand why people are worried about $300 a year in savings on gas when they are spending $50k + on the car.
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  #5  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:23 AM
Moveitsmike Moveitsmike is offline
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Originally Posted by GoBlue5 View Post
You are paying a pretty hefty premium for these cars, don't quite understand why people are worried about $300 a year in savings on gas when they are spending $50k + on the car.
+1.. its only a few bucks more anyway
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  #6  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:29 AM
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If you're "strategizing" at the pump, perhaps you would have been better served buying a 4-cyl economy car that is both designed to use 87 octane and delivers superior fuel economy compared to a 328i convertible. Your current "strategy" is silly at best.
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  #7  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:37 AM
hondo402000 hondo402000 is offline
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I always wondered why at one station they sell 100 Octane and its 4.99 a gallon, Never changes

thats charlotte NC
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2013, 12:01 PM
gpburdell gpburdell is offline
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Expensive car and you're worried about $30 a month difference in gas cost to use what BMW recommends vs what's cheaper? You might want to look at Mike Miller's Tech Talk concerning regular and premium gasoline from the November 2012 issue of Roundel I believe. Someone wrote in with a similar question and here is the answer:

It never ceases to amaze me how many people will pay $50,000 for a BMW luxury sport sedan with a 300-horsepower turbo engine and then go out and buy the cheapest gas they can get. Anyway, we have to print out one of these low-octane-fuel letters every year, and yours is excellent. You are obviously a very bright young man, and your automotive knowledge is surprisingly good for what I like to call the Y-Me? Generation. Still, I can practically guarantee you that your uncle will think of you as a kid when you're 40. Suggestion: Never give automotive advice to family members. They never listen anyway.
Here's the deal: All of what you wrote is correct except for the increased emissions. The engine will detonate (ping) on the lower-octane fine, but the knock-sensing ignition system will detect detonation almost before it occurs (not quite, but almost), send that information to the ECU, and the ECU will retard ignition timing to eliminate the detonation. There are four things to bear in mind about this process:
1. First, retarding the ignition timing reduces engine power output. Practical result: The driver pushes the car harder. It is this part of the equation that causes the engine to use more fuel, not the lower-octane gasoline per se. To the extent that using more fuel increases emissions, you are right about that, too.
2. Second-and I hesitate to say this, because it throws people into a dither-I suspect that the ECU is retarding ignition timing even with 93-octane fuel. I'm not sure about the direct-injected cars, but the M54 engines definitely do this, because 93-octane fuel isn't enough for that engine. (It's also possible that what's being sold as a 93-octane does not always have a true 93-octane rating.) It's important to bear in mind that the ECU will only retard timing so much, and then you'll have detonation.
3. In the case of a turbocharged engine with a high compression ratio, if you actually get to the point where the ECU cannot retard timing any further, and the engine actually starts pinging, chances of engine destruction are greater than would be the case with a normally-aspirated engine.
4. American gasoline is usually contaminated with ethanol, and in most cases it has insufficient detergent additives. Ethanol does raise the octane rating a bit, but it has less energy than gasoline and makes less power. All but the top-tier gasolines (www.toptiergas.com) have insufficient detergency-and frankly, I have my doubts about top-tier gas as well. Moreover, gasoline refiners tend to put less detergent additives in their lower-octane fuels. The end result of this is carbon build-up in the intake valves, spark plugs, and the top of the pistons. Carbon build-up on the top of the pistons, can over time, artificially raise the compression ratio, which increase the incident of detonation (pinging). The carbon can also become hot enough to detonate the air-fuel mixture before the spark plug fires. This creates enormous stress of the engine.
In my opinion, the bit about running regular gasoline could have been edited out of Michael Bird's letter. "Ran fine" is subjective, and Mr. Bird was probably unaware of the unintended consequences. The spec fuel for the car is minimum 91-octane, preferably 93 or higher. You can run lower octane in exigent circumstances, such as when traveling in an area where high-octane fuel is not available, but not on a regular daily basis. Premium-fuel cost is not "spending unnecessary money," it is spending necessary money.
Finally, remind your uncle that his engine is due for new spark plugs at 45,000 miles. Frankly, I think every 30,000 is a better interval for the turbocharged engines.
I've sent you a number of BMW service-information bulletins regarding fuel, as well as the Lifetime Maintenance Schedule and the N54 engine-recall bulletins. Most important among the fuel bulletins is the one about using original BMW Fuel System Cleaner Plus every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. That mandate from BMW is the direct result of low detergency and ethanol contamination is U.S. gasoline.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2013, 12:34 PM
Tom K. Tom K. is offline
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As BMW's recommendation for the OP's 328i is 91 octane with a minimum of 87, it seems reasonable to conclude that the motor is tuned for 91.

And since the knock sensor will cause the timing to be retarded in the event of knocking, using 87 should not damage the motor, but could result in lower peak power and (possibly) worse gas mileage. How much lower is a good question as BMW does not quote 328i power or fuel mileage figures using 87 octane.

However, back in 2005 when the BMW R1200RT motorcycle was released, their literature specifically quoted a maximum HP figure using 93 octane and an 8% lower figure using 87~88 octane. As that motor is air/oil cooled with a 12.5:1 CR and does not knock with 87 octane, I feel confident that our water cooled N52 engine can handle the lower octane with no problem.

So assuming that fuel economy would also suffer by about 8% (which may or may not be valid), I use 87 octane in my 328i whenever the price spread between 87 and 93 exceeds 10%. Otherwise, I prefer to have the full 230 HP available with the better gas mileage at least partially making up for the increased expense.

Like they say, YMMV!

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  #10  
Old 04-16-2013, 02:26 PM
Nickh Nickh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom K. View Post
As BMW's recommendation for the OP's 328i is 91 octane with a minimum of 87, it seems reasonable to conclude that the motor is tuned for 91.

And since the knock sensor will cause the timing to be retarded in the event of knocking, using 87 should not damage the motor, but could result in lower peak power and (possibly) worse gas mileage. How much lower is a good question as BMW does not quote 328i power or fuel mileage figures using 87 octane.

However, back in 2005 when the BMW R1200RT motorcycle was released, their literature specifically quoted a maximum HP figure using 93 octane and an 8% lower figure using 87~88 octane. As that motor is air/oil cooled with a 12.5:1 CR and does not knock with 87 octane, I feel confident that our water cooled N52 engine can handle the lower octane with no problem.

So assuming that fuel economy would also suffer by about 8% (which may or may not be valid), I use 87 octane in my 328i whenever the price spread between 87 and 93 exceeds 10%. Otherwise, I prefer to have the full 230 HP available with the better gas mileage at least partially making up for the increased expense.

Like they say, YMMV!

Tom
I see everyone's "I drive a $50K car, so the heck with saving $300/yr, I'm going to put in the most expensive stuff into it, no matter what..." mentality. Thanks for supporting the Texas economy.

The sticker on 230 hp 6 cylinder says 89 octane.

Does anyone has real scientific proof/evidence/research that conclusively says that by using 87 octane gas (or 93 octane) reduces (or improves) gas mileage by whatever %?
or by using 87 octane will reduce your 0-60 time or 30 - 50 acceleration time & performance?
or does paying extra for all those extra Oxygen molecules really pays off in the real world?

btw, paying for Premium gas does not really gets you anymore detergents or extra cleaning power. Just more O molecules...

Last edited by Nickh; 04-16-2013 at 02:31 PM.
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  #11  
Old 04-16-2013, 02:45 PM
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  #12  
Old 04-16-2013, 03:06 PM
gpburdell gpburdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
I see everyone's "I drive a $50K car, so the heck with saving $300/yr, I'm going to put in the most expensive stuff into it, no matter what..." mentality.
Nope. I use the recommended octane, not the most expensive. I do prefer to use TopTier for the detergent properties, but that doesn't equate to the most expensive either.


Quote:
The sticker on 230 hp 6 cylinder says 89 octane. [...] Does anyone has real scientific proof/evidence/research that conclusively says that by using 87 octane gas
For my 2010 335i, the manual says 91 is preferred, 89 may be used, but specifically says not to use anything less. I choose 91 to enjoy my 335i at its best, if my focus was on gas costs instead of fun, I'd have bought a Prius.
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  #13  
Old 04-16-2013, 03:44 PM
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cwinter cwinter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
I see everyone's "I drive a $50K car, so the heck with saving $300/yr, I'm going to put in the most expensive stuff into it, no matter what..." mentality. Thanks for supporting the Texas economy.

The sticker on 230 hp 6 cylinder says 89 octane.

Does anyone has real scientific proof/evidence/research that conclusively says that by using 87 octane gas (or 93 octane) reduces (or improves) gas mileage by whatever %?
or by using 87 octane will reduce your 0-60 time or 30 - 50 acceleration time & performance?
or does paying extra for all those extra Oxygen molecules really pays off in the real world?

btw, paying for Premium gas does not really gets you anymore detergents or extra cleaning power. Just more O molecules...
Now that we're at this stage, I suggest a search. This argument has been rehashed so many times, the resurrected horse has been beaten to death again.

My tank cap say 91 octane and lower is acceptable if nothing better is available . BMW isn't in the business to sell me gas. I fill in 93 unless 91 is available.

Because many of us bought expensive cars, the assumption is you have financial resources. It does not mean you should not save money, HOWEVER, for someone that makes enough to purchase a $50k car, going to great lengths to save $300 a year on a practice that is apparently not recommended seems silly. Cancelling HBO might be more worthwhile a saving strategy.

If you have your mind made up on this then there is no argument here. But there is no reason to fill in gas of a lower octane than the manufacturer recommends. You might as well use whichever oil is on sale, buy the cheapest tires, and go for the cheapest brake pads. It's all up to you, but it probably doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense. A community that is passionate about cars, and BMWs in general, will likely not support such viewpoints; if support of your strategy is what you are looking for.
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You will rue this day, RUE THIS DAY

Last edited by cwinter; 04-16-2013 at 03:46 PM.
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  #14  
Old 04-16-2013, 04:12 PM
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bear-avhistory bear-avhistory is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
I see everyone's "I drive a $50K car, so the heck with saving $300/yr, I'm going to put in the most expensive stuff into it, no matter what..." mentality. Thanks for supporting the Texas economy.

The sticker on 230 hp 6 cylinder says 89 octane.

Does anyone has real scientific proof/evidence/research that conclusively says that by using 87 octane gas (or 93 octane) reduces (or improves) gas mileage by whatever %?
or by using 87 octane will reduce your 0-60 time or 30 - 50 acceleration time & performance?
or does paying extra for all those extra Oxygen molecules really pays off in the real world?

btw, paying for Premium gas does not really gets you anymore detergents or extra cleaning power. Just more O molecules...
Yes any dyno you want to run will show less power on lower octane fuel because the ignition retards under load to prevent knock. If you want to rummage through some old Honda Accord V6 manuals they list the car is good for 87 but will gain 10hp on premium.

Personally I could car less what you put in your tank but to come on the forum looking for validation of your fueling strategy then complaining when you don't get it does not make a whole lot of sense. If you are that sure of your strategy why ask in the first place?

You want a debate pick something interesting that has not been beaten to death. Like it might be interesting to show us how more O's slow down the burn rate of 91 or 93 which I guess has even more OOO's
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  #15  
Old 04-16-2013, 04:37 PM
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  #16  
Old 04-16-2013, 04:46 PM
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I am a frugal person. So, I will always seek to get the best value. That is why I found a Shell station only about 5 miles out of the way that always has the cheapest gas. But I only put name brand premium in the car. BMW says 91, we get 87, 89, and 93 here, so, 93 it is. Now, I know, intellectually, that if I start with a full of 93, and, at the half tank line, alternate fill ups with 89 and 93, that I will maintain at least a 91octane average in my chariot. But it seems like an awful lot of work just to save a buck three eighty.

You buy a BMW, you put in the right gasoline.
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  #17  
Old 04-16-2013, 05:00 PM
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.... "Contaminated with ethanol..."

I put ethanol in mine on purpose! I do 50/50 of E87 and 93(E10)
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:19 PM
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...
You buy a BMW, you put in the right gasoline.
Else you are penny wise and dollar cheap...
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  #19  
Old 04-16-2013, 05:51 PM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
Does anyone has real scientific proof/evidence/research that conclusively says that by using 87 octane gas (or 93 octane) reduces (or improves) gas mileage by whatever %?
or by using 87 octane will reduce your 0-60 time or 30 - 50 acceleration time & performance?
or does paying extra for all those extra Oxygen molecules really pays off in the real world?

btw, paying for Premium gas does not really gets you anymore detergents or extra cleaning power. Just more O molecules...
As several have said, dynos clearly show the power loss. A lot harder to do the mileage thing, as you have to do the EPA test cycle because no real-life scenario is controlled enough. However, there's a reason that many manufacturers do their EPA test with premium, and that reason clearly is that they want to win the best mileage rating possible: if you search around enough, you'll find a link to BMW (and Toyota) guys explaining that.

And you're totally wrong about "Oxygen" molecules. Higher octane gasoline has a higher percentage of Octane (and it's isomers) molecules. Octane molecules have no Oxygen in them. Wikipedia has quite a good explanation.
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  #20  
Old 04-16-2013, 06:10 PM
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pointandgo pointandgo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
I've always been intrigued as to what what/which gas octane to use.
Years earlier when gas were $1 - $2/gal, I had no worries about filling up my Corvettes with Premium gas 93 octane.
But as gas prices crept up these years, I began to fill our other BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Lincolns & Jeeps with just Reg 87 octane.
Price at sea level Houston TX are:
Reg 87 octane: $3.39
Mid 89 octane: $3.50
Prem 93 octane: $3.76

My current 6 cylinder 2013 328i conv lists 89 octane. But I've been filling my 740iL for over 10 yrs now (requires Prem 91 octane), with reg 87 octane gas, with no pinging nor knocking nor sluggishness.
We have tons of oil/gas refineries here in the Houston metro areas, & most of the petro engineers I've talked to says that as long as the engine doesn't knock, there's no need to use premium/ high octane gas.

Let's say I fill up 20 gallons a wk, for 50 wks, that's 1000 gallons a yr.
The 11 cents difference is $111 a yr for Mid, & 37 cents diff is $370 a yr for Prem over reg gas.

So, is it worth it to skimp on higher octane gas?
You've convinced me...$370 is real money. Since we're into ignoring BMW's advice for gas, I'm extending this (and further $ savings) to motor oil. Money in my pocket! BMW charges a fortune!

I've found a Chinese motor oil brand at Pep Boys...0.49 cents a quart! It's not actually synthetic...but we both know this "synthetic" thing is way overblown. I'm going to buy 8 quarts next week and give it a try. The container doesn't actually list an SAE value, but I'm reassured by the label (although there are a few spelling mistakes) that promises that it's for "all modern engines." The bottles even come with a convenient paper funnel (decorated with Chinese dragons) to assist in pouring the oil! Good to go!
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  #21  
Old 04-16-2013, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by NoQuarter View Post
.... "Contaminated with ethanol..."

I put ethanol in mine on purpose! I do 50/50 of E87 and 93(E10)
I only contaminate mine with 40% when I can't get any 100 octane.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:25 PM
kmorgan_260 kmorgan_260 is offline
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My Indy tells me that the reason he sees so many BMWs with blown HGs is due to people running 87 octane gas in them. He says the knock sensor can only go so far and then you get pinging which can damage the HG, valves, etc. He just shakes his head and marvels at why someone would pay so much for a car and then be so cheap. Says he can't understand why they think they know more about what is best for their engine than BMW does so they ignore the high octane recommendation to save a few pennies. I see 93 octane as cheap insurance against major engine repairs.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:42 PM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickh View Post
....most of the petro engineers I've talked to says that as long as the engine doesn't knock, there's no need to use premium/ high octane gas.

So, is it worth it to skimp on higher octane gas?


Dude! You've tapped a mother lode of emotional response....good show.

Looks like BMW pilots are as attached to their fuel pedigree as they are to their brand o'craft beer! And why wouldn't they be?
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  #24  
Old 04-16-2013, 06:45 PM
Pilgrim Pilgrim is offline
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It could NOT be simpler.

Under the fuel door on our 328ix it says "Unleaded Fuel Premium - Minimum 91 octane".

Since we can read, there is no possible question about what grade of gas to use.

It would be a pretty stupid move to buy a car worth $40,000 or more, then ignore the manufacturer's directions on the fuel to use in the single most important and expensive component - the engine.

If you want a car that runs on regular, buy a Chevy Malibu.
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Last edited by Pilgrim; 04-16-2013 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:56 PM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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