Breaking News
More () »

Yes, using the wrong fuel in your car can damage your engine

It might be a way to save a few bucks in the short term. But it can have disastrous consequences for your engine.

WASHINGTON — Pull into any gas station and you can see that prices at the pump are brutal. According to fuel watchdog Gas Buddy, gas prices across the country average just under $5 per gallon.

“The primary reason for higher oil and gas prices is that demand globally is exceeding supply," Gas Buddy analyst Patrick DeHaan said. “That has pushed oil prices to this mark.”

To save money at the gas station, some folks have asked about switching fuel types to something a little less premium.

Is that a quick way to save a few bucks?


Can you damage your engine if you put the wrong fuel in your car?



This is true.

Yes, you can damage your engine. Not right away, but over time.


To start, Keith Brown explained that different engines require different types of gasoline.

High performance cars and luxury vehicle need a gas with a higher-octane number.

“So higher output engines need a fuel that is basically can burn slower, if you will,” Brown said.

That’s why you see the more expensive fuels midgrade and premium at the pump. Let’s say your vehicle is recommended or required to use one of those types of gas, but you want to save 30 cents a gallon and use unleaded.

Keith Brown said that is a bad idea.  

“If a vehicle is operated for extended periods of time on a regular fuel when it needs the premium, it can cause him engine damage,” Brown said. “Thereby it also voids the vehicle warranty.”

Brown said if it happens once or twice, the vehicle’s computer can correct it. But using cheaper gas as a way to save money doesn’t compute.

“It's not worth trying to save 30 cents a gallon,” Brown said. “When in the long run, it can cost you a whole lot more money to replace an engine or repair the damage done.”

Engine repair can cost thousands of dollars. So- yes -if you use the wrong fuel in your car, over time it can damage your engine.

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.
Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.

Before You Leave, Check This Out