What Effect Would Racing Fuel Have On A Normal Street Car? (Find Out Now!)

Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by Jim Kein Kein

It’s not wise to mix your fuels — normally you use racing fuel as a replacement in an engine that is designed to run on gas, and it won’t work properly when used in a standard four-cylinder automobile. So, while you maybe able to run your car for just a little longer with the extra octane boost, there are some potentially hazardous side effects of doing so including damaging the engine.

Not all fuel is the same. Most vehicles require you to use at least a minimum grade of gas, but depending on how much your engine develops and how you use your car could require you to turn to something else. The brand or grades of petrol available at filling stations probably won’t vary by much but using the wrong octane for your car can be significantly cheaper than what it’s designed for which can lead to increased maintenance costs or even damage.

All around the word, some gas stations are selling fuel with a higher octane rating than regular gasoline. Because of this, you may end up at a gas station that sells “racing” fuel and ask yourself: Does your car have racing fuel compatible with the type of engine you have? The answer is yes, if your cars meets certain specifications. If you’re wondering about how to tell the difference between racing fuel and regular gasoline, please read our guide on what does it mean when a gas station sells race fuel…just so there isn’t confusion. 

Racing Fuel & Normal Gasoline – Octane! 

Racing Fuel & Normal Gasoline

Gasoline has traditionally been used in everyday cars. It provides a reasonable amount of efficiency at a price that’s hard to beat. While racing fuels can run from 98-110 octane, the higher octane results in better performance over all else because it suppresses the effects of heat and air pressure which might otherwise cause an auto engine to knock.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the higher octane requires less fuel to power your engine. The reason for this is that high octane fuel (gasoline rated 90+) ignites at a lower temperature (1600 degrees Fahrenheit) than regular unleaded gasoline which starts burning around 2000 degrees. Since cheaper fuels have more carbon and other impurities in them, they burn faster when at higher temperatures – which obviously isn’t desirable in an engine since incomplete combustion will result in performance loss or even damage to the engine itself.

What Fuel Is Best Suited For Your Car?

Some vehicles are made for specific fuels. If you have a diesel car, it needs to burn diesel fuel, because diesel engines need to be run on diesel fuel. If you use regular gasoline in your oil-burning vehicle, that’ll ruin the engine. It’s the same way with a car specifically tuned for regular gasoline; you can’t put anything other than gasoline in that car without causing extensive damage.

So, is it ideal to put higher octane gasoline in a regular car? Simply put, yes, you can use racing fuel in your car but there are drawbacks. A consumer notice from the Federal Trade Commission states that using higher octane gasoline than what your manual recommends will do nothing which means it won’t give you better gas mileage or increase your car’s horsepower or speed. In some cases, racing fuel is even five times more expensive than regular 87 octane gas. Trust us on this and follow what your manual says to avoid wasting money!

The Major Difference between Regular Fuel and Racing Fuel

Major Difference between Regular Fuel and Racing Fuel

Another significant difference between regular gas and racing gas is the octane level. Gasoline found in a gas station may have a range of 87-93 octane while racing fuel can go up to 120 octane. Racing engines usually operate with higher compression ratios than street vehicles and so require high octane racing gasoline to function properly. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets emission standards for regular fuel, but there are no such regulations for racing fuel as there’s not as much emphasis put on emissions control as there is when it comes to regular fuel since it is not liable to be burned by the common consumer so there’s no real incentive to regulate it. Anyway, racing fuels tend to be higher octane than their pedestrian counterparts and some car engines need it in order to work efficiently without throttling back due to detonation in the combustion chamber from lean mixtures during acceleration.

Properties of Regular Fuel

Gasoline is a refined petroleum product that consists of a mixture of aromatic hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbons, as well as an additive package containing antioxidants, detergents, foam inhibitors, and germicides. A small addition of benzene improves the octane rating of gasoline. Fuels have additives including; 

  • Anti-icing agents 
  • Upper-cylinder lubricants
  • Antioxidants
  • Detergents

There are more than 150 compounds in every gallon of gasoline. Some blends reach as high as one thousand! When you visit the gas station, you will see two figures on the pump – octane rating and anti-knock index. Octane fuel measures its resistance to pre-ignition. The higher the number, the more stable the fuel and therefore the less likely it is to misfire or set fire to itself prematurely. The fewer impurities present in higher grade energy fuels, such as those from EnviroFuels, means a longer lasting lifespan for your engine because there are fewer additives that can cause wear or tear on internal systems like valves and pistons. Why go for anything but the best quality fuel if it’s going into your car?

What Differentiate Racing Fuel from Regular Gasoline?

Racing fuel is fairly similar to gasoline but contains more additives to increase the octane level than a regular tank of petrol. Specifically designed for high performance engines such as in sport cars, trucks and boats, racing fuel may also contain extra additives such as methanol, ethanol or leaded fuel. Leaded fuel was phased out from 1986 to 1996 due to the Clean Air Act which resulted in street vehicles not being allowed to use it anymore after law went into effect in 1996. Currently due to new legislation about emission levels permitted in the atmosphere, some areas may still use leaded gas for their smaller local airports despite laws preventing its use on highways or main city streets.

Why You Should Not Use Racing Fuel in Typical Street Cars

Before you select what type of fuel to fill up your street vehicle with, consult the owner’s manual. Most vehicle manufacturer’s include a recommendation for specific types of fuel and if your engine can take a higher grade fuel than regular or whether race fuel is necessary. Also, be aware that racing fuel wears on parts such as catalytic converters and oxygen sensors in non-racing engines which may become problematic when operating in street-ready vehicles.


We’ve come to the end of this blog post. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know the effect of racing fuel on street cars. If you have any questions or comments about the topic, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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