BMWs have been one of the most popular luxury cars on the market for over 100 years. As with most luxury cars, they cost more to own than other vehicles. Parts, maintenance, and even gasoline all come with a heftier price tag.

As a BMW owner, you’ve probably wondered if there is anything you can do to save money without giving up the car you love. Skimping on maintenance isn’t optional, but what about that premium gas?

Turns out, you may be able to save at the pump.

While you’ve probably been told that you should only put premium in your Bimmer, you might be surprised to learn that some BMWs can actually run on regular gas just fine. To understand why it might be ok to fill your tank with regular, or why you should keep using premium, it’s important to understand the difference between the two and how they affect your engine.

Premium Gas vs. Regular

“Premium” and “Regular” refer to the amount of octane in the gasoline. Premium is higher octane, typically 91-93. Regular gas is lower octane, usually 87 or 88.

High octane fuel can withstand higher compression than lower octane fuels. This is especially important for people that drive cars with high-compression engines, like some BMWs. Putting low octane fuel in a car with a high-compression engine could cause the engine to knock or ping, which could cause major damage if it goes on for a long time.

Can You Use Regular Gas in Your BMW?


Filling up your BMW, or any other car, with premium gas can hurt your wallet. Whether you can save a few bucks by filling up with regular or you need to accept that paying for premium is part of BMW ownership depends on your car. 

Most modern BMWs can run just fine on regular gas, thanks to more electronic components, including electronic knock sensors in your engine. These electronic components allow the engine to detect the type of gas its running on and adjust performance accordingly, avoiding damage to your engine.

The downside of using regular fuel is that because it adjusts your engine’s performance, you’ll lose some of your car’s power and experience slower acceleration rates. This isn’t a huge loss, though. Most cars that are recommended to use premium but switch to regular gas will lose in the neighborhood of 10HP. This probably isn’t a big deal if you just rely on your Bimmer to get you around town, but it’s important to keep in mind, especially if you bought your BMW for its power.

Like anything, there are some exceptions to this rule. Some BMWs do require premium gas.

These are the most common reasons a Bimmer may require premium, but is by no means an exhaustive list. Don’t use regular gasoline in your BMW if it falls in one of the following categories:

  • Your car is older than model year 1996
  • It’s an M model
  • It has a high-compression and/or turbo engine
  • BMW requires that your model car run on premium gasoline (they recommend that all of their cars use premium, but only require it on select models)

Here you can find a full list of BMWs (model years 2012-2019) that require premium and here is a list of BMWs that recommend premium, but will run on regular with no problems. Above all, always check your owner’s manual before switching from premium to regular unleaded.

For Comprehensive BMW Repair & Service in Raleigh, Visit Triangle Imports

At Triangle Imports, we’re just as passionate about our cars as you are. If you have questions about your BMW or need maintenance or repairs, we’re your one-stop BMW shop. Call us at (919) 828-7900 or complete the contact form to schedule your appointment!