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Old 03-03-2011, 04:39 PM   #1
BennyL
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Stupid question? Maybe...

So I'm thinking of getting an E46. Haven't decided which one, don't really have a preference for any specific engine.

I'm wondering if it's safe to run any of them on regular gas (87 octane). And if so, what are the effects.

I did a quick search and didn't come up with anything. So, any input ppl?
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:49 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by BennyL View Post
So I'm thinking of getting an E46. Haven't decided which one, don't really have a preference for any specific engine.

I'm wondering if it's safe to run any of them on regular gas (87 octane). And if so, what are the effects.

I did a quick search and didn't come up with anything. So, any input ppl?
You don't have to put 91 in but its preferred, now I'm no mechanic but I had the same question in other thread. 330i I purchased had check engine light come on when it had 87 put in - code read (E4 Fuel Trim Bank 2, permissible range exceeded)

Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong ;-)
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:19 PM   #3
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You can use 87... but its not recommended for performance reasons.
Think, garbage in/garbage out.
The e46 is tuned to use premium gas for premium performance.
There is a fuel filter that would have to work harder (or wont be able to) to clean the impurities in the gas. It could damage your engine over a extended period of time.

But I am not a mechanic...

Call BMW Autohaus or Budds or whoever and talk to the service techs there.

They are pretty good with giving answers to BMW owners.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:51 PM   #4
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Will the car blow up? No. (it has knock sensors that will retard the timing).

Are you going to save any money by doing this? No. A car is tuned for a specific gas and is optimized to run on it. Its cheaper to drive 100km in a car that is tuned for 91 on 91 (considering the 12% higher price) than it is to drive that same 100km on 87 (even though the gas is cheaper).

Just put what it says on the cap.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:58 PM   #5
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First things first, the term 'premium' is a marketing ploy. It is not better gas than regular, it's different gas. If you want good gas, go to Petro or Shell since they don't use ethanol (yet afaik), and avoid esso, pioneer, sunoco, and essentially all others. There are no more impurities in 87 than there are in 91 so your fuel filter WILL NOT get damaged. Furthermore, the engine isn't tuned to the point where damage will occur if you run anything less than 91, even over an extended period of time. If it did get damaged under these circumstances then there wouldn't be any possibility of tuning the engine any further, or running boost on this engine. Think critically, if you needed to run 91 stock, then how could anyone push 6-8psi on the same gas without damage....answer is they couldn't. Furthermore, the octane rating is actually a ratio of septane and octane (two different types of gas). 87 has as you would imagine 87% octane and 13% septane. Does this really matter, well since septane has more btu's than octane, yes it does because you get WORSE mileage out of an engine if you run higher than needed octane...yes, you did read that correctly. Most people look at a compression ratio and automatically assume that alone defines what type of gas is required, that's an incorrect mentality. Compression ratios are important, but so is the material the block is made of, the material the head is made of, the altitude the car is driven in, the humidity the car is driven in, the air temperature, the rpm range (based on idividual drivers), the load (if the car is towing or full of fat people), the temp of the spark plug, the type of fuel delivery, the list can go on for quite some time I've just listed some for illustration purposes. The reason a company like BMW will put a 91 octane required sticker on the gas cap is to imply exclusiveness, and protect themselves. If they didn't put that sticker there you can be damn sure that some jacka$$ would drive the car through a desert, while towing a camper with the A/C on and farting along at 1200rpm...essentially destroying the engine while the car was under warranty.

From my personal experience, when I'm driving on winter tires, I use 87, when on summer tires, 89. And from what I've read compared to other e46 owners I get much better mileage than average. This is owning 2 non-m e46's ('01 325Ci, and '04 330Ci).
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Old 03-11-2011, 01:44 AM   #6
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First things first, the term 'premium' is a marketing ploy. It is not better gas than regular, it's different gas. If you want good gas, go to Petro or Shell since they don't use ethanol (yet afaik), and avoid esso, pioneer, sunoco, and essentially all others. There are no more impurities in 87 than there are in 91 so your fuel filter WILL NOT get damaged. Furthermore, the engine isn't tuned to the point where damage will occur if you run anything less than 91, even over an extended period of time. If it did get damaged under these circumstances then there wouldn't be any possibility of tuning the engine any further, or running boost on this engine. Think critically, if you needed to run 91 stock, then how could anyone push 6-8psi on the same gas without damage....answer is they couldn't. Furthermore, the octane rating is actually a ratio of septane and octane (two different types of gas). 87 has as you would imagine 87% octane and 13% septane. Does this really matter, well since septane has more btu's than octane, yes it does because you get WORSE mileage out of an engine if you run higher than needed octane...yes, you did read that correctly. Most people look at a compression ratio and automatically assume that alone defines what type of gas is required, that's an incorrect mentality. Compression ratios are important, but so is the material the block is made of, the material the head is made of, the altitude the car is driven in, the humidity the car is driven in, the air temperature, the rpm range (based on idividual drivers), the load (if the car is towing or full of fat people), the temp of the spark plug, the type of fuel delivery, the list can go on for quite some time I've just listed some for illustration purposes. The reason a company like BMW will put a 91 octane required sticker on the gas cap is to imply exclusiveness, and protect themselves. If they didn't put that sticker there you can be damn sure that some jacka$$ would drive the car through a desert, while towing a camper with the A/C on and farting along at 1200rpm...essentially destroying the engine while the car was under warranty.

From my personal experience, when I'm driving on winter tires, I use 87, when on summer tires, 89. And from what I've read compared to other e46 owners I get much better mileage than average. This is owning 2 non-m e46's ('01 325Ci, and '04 330Ci).

I didn't read your entire post but I wanted to correct your ethanol statements. Shell is the only station (AFAIK) that does not use ethanol, and that only applies to V-Power (91). The other grades do have ethanol, says so on the pump.
Petro has ethanol in all grades.
Essa has ethanol in all grades.
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Old 03-11-2011, 03:49 AM   #7
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I didn't read your entire post but I wanted to correct your ethanol statements. Shell is the only station (AFAIK) that does not use ethanol, and that only applies to V-Power (91). The other grades do have ethanol, says so on the pump.
Petro has ethanol in all grades.
Essa has ethanol in all grades.
Esso in my town has no label for Ethanol, I have asked the Manager they have been told BY THE Supplier their gas there is NOT an ethanol blend. other stations farther from the refinery may be, but theirs is not. Does it make a differance that the station is only 40 KM's from the Esso Nanticoke Refinery, I do not know. But they are not Ethanol blended and thats what we use in our stock cars.
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Old 03-11-2011, 04:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Renboy View Post
First things first, the term 'premium' is a marketing ploy. It is not better gas than regular, it's different gas. If you want good gas, go to Petro or Shell since they don't use ethanol (yet afaik), and avoid esso, pioneer, sunoco, and essentially all others. There are no more impurities in 87 than there are in 91 so your fuel filter WILL NOT get damaged. Furthermore, the engine isn't tuned to the point where damage will occur if you run anything less than 91, even over an extended period of time. If it did get damaged under these circumstances then there wouldn't be any possibility of tuning the engine any further, or running boost on this engine. Think critically, if you needed to run 91 stock, then how could anyone push 6-8psi on the same gas without damage....answer is they couldn't. Furthermore, the octane rating is actually a ratio of septane and octane (two different types of gas). 87 has as you would imagine 87% octane and 13% septane. Does this really matter, well since septane has more btu's than octane, yes it does because you get WORSE mileage out of an engine if you run higher than needed octane...yes, you did read that correctly. Most people look at a compression ratio and automatically assume that alone defines what type of gas is required, that's an incorrect mentality. Compression ratios are important, but so is the material the block is made of, the material the head is made of, the altitude the car is driven in, the humidity the car is driven in, the air temperature, the rpm range (based on idividual drivers), the load (if the car is towing or full of fat people), the temp of the spark plug, the type of fuel delivery, the list can go on for quite some time I've just listed some for illustration purposes. The reason a company like BMW will put a 91 octane required sticker on the gas cap is to imply exclusiveness, and protect themselves. If they didn't put that sticker there you can be damn sure that some jacka$$ would drive the car through a desert, while towing a camper with the A/C on and farting along at 1200rpm...essentially destroying the engine while the car was under warranty.

From my personal experience, when I'm driving on winter tires, I use 87, when on summer tires, 89. And from what I've read compared to other e46 owners I get much better mileage than average. This is owning 2 non-m e46's ('01 325Ci, and '04 330Ci).
Thank you for a well versed, fact based response.
My question is, based off your statements, I can run my M5 and my High pressure Turbo Volvo on 87 Octane without any repercussions even though they both call for 91+ octane.
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by bmwm5lover View Post
Thank you for a well versed, fact based response.
My question is, based off your statements, I can run my M5 and my High pressure Turbo Volvo on 87 Octane without any repercussions even though they both call for 91+ octane.
I can see what your saying but I didn't take the post he made in the same manner that you did, out of everything, I took home the fact that you should use the recommended octane rating gasoline for your vehicle basically. In between all that he wrote, the fact is your turbo Volvo requires a higher octane gasoline that a NA vehicle. As for NA vehicles, if a mid grade octane is suggested, it should be used, and a higher octane gas in such a vehicle could POTENTIALLY damage your vehicle or not make a difference in mileage if the DME doesn't know that it exists which is only in very rare cases. Most cars can determine, using several sensors,what they are running on and make necessary adjustments to the fuel trim and or timing for optimum fuel economy and lowest possible emissions.
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Renboy View Post
First things first, the term 'premium' is a marketing ploy. It is not better gas than regular, it's different gas. If you want good gas, go to Petro or Shell since they don't use ethanol (yet afaik), and avoid esso, pioneer, sunoco, and essentially all others. There are no more impurities in 87 than there are in 91 so your fuel filter WILL NOT get damaged. Furthermore, the engine isn't tuned to the point where damage will occur if you run anything less than 91, even over an extended period of time. If it did get damaged under these circumstances then there wouldn't be any possibility of tuning the engine any further, or running boost on this engine. Think critically, if you needed to run 91 stock, then how could anyone push 6-8psi on the same gas without damage....answer is they couldn't. Furthermore, the octane rating is actually a ratio of septane and octane (two different types of gas). 87 has as you would imagine 87% octane and 13% septane. Does this really matter, well since septane has more btu's than octane, yes it does because you get WORSE mileage out of an engine if you run higher than needed octane...yes, you did read that correctly. Most people look at a compression ratio and automatically assume that alone defines what type of gas is required, that's an incorrect mentality. Compression ratios are important, but so is the material the block is made of, the material the head is made of, the altitude the car is driven in, the humidity the car is driven in, the air temperature, the rpm range (based on idividual drivers), the load (if the car is towing or full of fat people), the temp of the spark plug, the type of fuel delivery, the list can go on for quite some time I've just listed some for illustration purposes. The reason a company like BMW will put a 91 octane required sticker on the gas cap is to imply exclusiveness, and protect themselves. If they didn't put that sticker there you can be damn sure that some jacka$$ would drive the car through a desert, while towing a camper with the A/C on and farting along at 1200rpm...essentially destroying the engine while the car was under warranty.

From my personal experience, when I'm driving on winter tires, I use 87, when on summer tires, 89. And from what I've read compared to other e46 owners I get much better mileage than average. This is owning 2 non-m e46's ('01 325Ci, and '04 330Ci).

I don't think you understand where the octane number comes from.

Please see the Wiki on Octane Ratings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating

and here is a quote from there that should answer people's questions

"However, burning fuel with a lower octane rating than that for which the engine is designed often results in a reduction of power output and efficiency. Many modern engines are equipped with a knock sensor (a small piezoelectric microphone), which sends a signal to the engine control unit, which in turn retards the ignition timing when detonation is detected. Retarding the ignition timing reduces the tendency of the fuel-air mixture to detonate, but also reduces power output and fuel efficiency."


It is true that running a lower octane rating will not damage your stock engine, but it will be running with retarded timing.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:49 AM   #11
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I don't think you understand where the octane number comes from.

Please see the Wiki on Octane Ratings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octane_rating
You're right, I made a mistake and wrote septane instead of heptane.

"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."

The best fuel economy you can achieve in any vehicle is by running the lowest octane fuel before timing is pulled (retarded). This isn't my opinion, it is fact.

The reason more power CAN be made from higher octane gas is because the engines attaining the power are more efficient, not because the gas is better. Higher compression engines are more efficient than lower compression engines, but they are limited by knock/ping. It's common knowledge that higher octane resists pinging, that's not news to anyone.

NOTE: the following is for illustration only, not accurate (unless I got lucky with the numbers). Lets say a litre of 91 has 30k btu's, and a litre of 87 has 32k btu's. An engine that runs 91 efficiently may usefully turn 40% of the 30k into power. An inefficient engine may only turn 30% of btu's into power, but it starts with more. This is where the problem comes from as far as power is concerned. Very few people know when their timing is being pulled, and never have I seen a dyno sheet with timing and air/fuel comparing gas grades in a test vehicle.

As much as I hate anecdotal evidence, I know from my regular commutes that I get the best mileage with 89 in the summer, and 87 in the winter. I also track my fuel consumption very religiously on gas cubby (iphone app) and have tried every gas brand, and grade I could. The best I ever got was 7.4L/100kms (Pioneer, 89, summer) and the worst I ever got was 10.2 (Pioneer, 87, winter - this tank was all very short trips in city). The worst summer mileage I ever got was Mobil 1, in Michigan, 89. It was so bad I thought they had water tanks in ground that they mixed with the gas. My average is 8.5L/100kms over the course of the last 50,000kms (~17months). Also, I speed. 100kms/hr is a lullaby not a speed limit on a 400 series highway.
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:01 PM   #12
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WOW! now that is in-depth!
Thanks Renboy for the correction!

Remember... I'm not a mechanic! :p
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:54 PM   #13
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I'm not a mechanic either, just what I've learned.
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:19 PM   #14
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Simple, car was tuned by BMW to run on 91, pay the few extra dollars, and get a few extra km's. It all equals out.
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Old 03-08-2011, 01:20 PM   #15
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^^^ How insightful, you've managed to make a point with burdening yourself with proof, logic, or even theory.
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