Is unleaded 88 safe to use in your vehicle?

1 July 2022

You may have seen ads that Sheetz is offering discount gas this weekend. Before you fill up, 5 On Your Side took a deeper look at what you need to know about this deal, to avoid damaging your engine.

There are dozens of Sheetz across North Carolina and this weekend, the deal many of them are offering offering is Unleaded 88 for $3.99 a gallon and E85 for $3.49 a gallon.

Friday gas lines not quite as long in the Triangle

“I’m not sure my car would like 88,” Susan Michelfelder told us. “It’s a 2004.”

5 On Your Side asked her if she’d consider switching to Unleaded 88 to save a few bucks.

“Probably not considering its older age. I don’t want to take chances,” she said.

That cautious approach to using Unleaded 88 fuel is the right one.

“It hasn’t been openly accepted by everybody,” says John Ibbotson, Chief Automotive Services Manager at Consumer Reports.

Ibbotson says only about 4,000 gas stations across the country offer Unleaded 88, that’s about 3-percent of stations.

It contains 15% ethanol compared to unleaded 87’s ethanol content of 10%.

“Additional ethanol can cause problems with things like corrosion,” Ibbotson told 5 On Your Side, especially in vehicles made before 2001. However, that’s more of a long term effect.

“Most vehicles after 2001 can handle the 88,” he says.

Another thing Consumer Reports told 5 On Your Side: the higher the ethanol content of gas, the lower the fuel efficiency. They haven’t tested Unleaded 88, but say E85 gas gets 30-percent lower fuel economy than 87 octane.

You should avoid E85 unless your car is specifically designed for it.

Bottom line, if your car’s manual says it can handle Unleaded 88 and you’re not planning to use that octane long term, you should be able to take advantage of this discount.

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