HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is among the top states in the nation to have the highest gas prices. For a lot of drivers, every cent counts when it comes to saving at the pump. That means not wasting money on premium-grade gas if your car is designed to run on regular fuel. “Premium” isn’t always better.

“Your car has been designed for a specific fuel, and if it’s regular 87, you’re not going to gain any benefit if you fill up with premium ’cause your car hasn’t been designed to run on that,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, a tech company that finds real-time fuel prices for stations nationwide.

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De Haan told KHON2 it’s never worth it unless your car requires premium. It’s higher octane, and some cars are designed for it. You can find that out by looking in your user’s manual.

“But if your car is not designed for premium and you put premium in it, you’re not gaining a single benefit,” said De Haan. “You’re basically wasting money because your car has to be preprogrammed from the factory to utilize that different fuel.”

According to AAA research from 2017, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. AAA cautions drivers “don’t be fueled” — premium is higher octane, not higher quality.

“The statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded today is $5.49. The statewide average for a gallon of premium in Hawaii is $5.94. That’s a difference of .45 cents per gallon,” said Doug Shupe, AAA Hawaii Spokesperson. “To put that into perspective, someone with a mid-size sedan with a 14-gallon size fuel tank would be paying $6.30 more to fill up a tank using premium fuel versus regular unleaded.” 

AAA Hawaii recommends drivers to check their fuel tank or vehicle owner’s manual. If your vehicle manufacturer doesn’t require but only recommends premium, then you can save yourself some money by pushing the 87 button.