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Acura TL and Premium vs Regular Gas

xafwodahsxafwodahs Posts: 4
I'm considering a 2006 TL and, to be honest, one of the biggest reasons I've found for not getting it is the Premium fuel recommendation. It may sound trivial, but I have a hard time swallowing the idea of getting premium gas every time I fill up for the next 5-10 years.

However, after a little research, I've learned that this car - as well as many/most modern cars - have a knock sensor which can adjust the spark timing to prevent the knocking that result from lower octane gas.

My question probably requires an Acura engineer or very knowledgable mechanic, but here it is:

Does the TL use the knock sensor to perform at the very best it can with any given fuel, or does the TL simply revert to some super-safe-mode if it detects any knocking?

In other words, if I use regular gas, will it still perform very well (maybe just a couple HP less than documented) or will it have a significant reduction in performance/efficiency?

Thanks in advance for any comments.
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Comments

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hi - welcome.

    We can certainly see what folks would like to add here, but if you go to the general Acura TL discussion, you can find what others have already talked about this issue. There is a Search This Discussion box on the right just above the first post and just below the last that will help you narrow down the subject.

    We'll see what others would like to contribute here as well.
  • buyer777buyer777 Posts: 70
    While I don't buy into using Premium when regular is ok, since Acura tuned this engine to use Premium, it made sense to me to do that. The upcharge for premium where I live is now only about 6% or less. $3.17 versus $3.00.

    Years ago, i believe the used to charge a 20% upcharge when gas was about a $1.00. I'll bet mpg drops more than 6% if you use regular, so besides getting the HP, it may be cheaper to use premium for this car.
  • waiwai Posts: 327
    Is TL require min. 91 or 93? Is $3.17 for 91 or 93, $3.00 is for 87?
  • buyer777buyer777 Posts: 70
    TL manual states 91 Octane. My only choices are 87, 89 and 93. $3.00 for 89, $3.17 for 93 Octane
  • awhmawhm Posts: 7
    I picked up a loaner car (TL) today; as our new TL is being serviced. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine someone using a loaner paying more than the minimum for gasoline, e.g. 87 octane. Like putting the cheapest gas in a rental. The tank was almost empty, and the gas light was on. I filled up with a few gallons of 87 and the car is running fine after 50+ miles. Now, too early for me to tell what the long term effects are, but I can't be the first to use the lower grade. The car (with 16K miles) runs fine, but I did notice that the acceleration was a bit hindered - but no knocking. Perhaps the reasons for manufacturers to state requirements for 91+ octane (premium fuel,) in to meet their advertised performance claims. I recall BMW recommending 92 octane, but saw no difference 91 or 93. However, did see a big performance difference between mid grade/low grade 89/87 and 91.
  • igibanigiban Posts: 530
    Did you notice mpg dropped vs. using premium?
  • hi i just setup my acct. but i have an 03 tl and i have noticed no difference in the mid to highgrade change but every time i put in low grade it what i call starts to stutter and putter but thats all i have noticed. i have also noticed that the gas mileage to begin with in my car is highly unpredictable even if u use premium. does someone have an answer or solution to this if u have also noticed or heard about this.
  • Regarding octane, the premium gas is actually harder to ignite therefore tolerating higher compressions and you get more power output. Cheaper gas is actually has a lower flash point under higher compression therefore having spontaneous ignition before top dead center (producing the detrimental knock).

    Most new cars do have knock sensors that in fact retard the timing to ignite the gas at a lower compression (to protect your engine). This does lower power output and the driver will inevitably push harder on the gas pedal to maintain drivability. This will in turn decrease your MPG.

    This is a round about way of saying, pay for the correct octane. You will get the satisfaction of having the correct amount of power output, better MPG, fewer fill-ups, safer fuel for your car, and will ultimately spend the same if not less money in the long run. If this aggravates you, go bland and buy an accord.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    Let me go out on the limb with a saw in my hand -

    I bet if Acura offered a no charge re flash on the control module (assume its that simple - lets not get too technical) for the 3.2L engine in the TL that reduced the HP down to the Accord's "pitiful" 240 @ 6244 RPM and the "doesn't have enough torque to get out of its own way" 211 foot pounds @ 5,000 RPM - rather than the AMAZING 258 HP at 6200 RPM and the OUT OF THIS WORLD 233 foot pounds at 5,000 RPM found in the TL - but allowed regular gas to be used that MANY people would ask for the change. By many I mean between 35 and 50 percent.

    For some warped reason Acura, Lexus, BMW & MB (plus others) think a car that requires premium fuel somehow equals more prestige. What would the 3.2L have for power if it was programed for regular? I don't know - but it must be somewhere between the 3.0L Accord's power and the 3.2L TL? How much more power did premium really give us?

    Best would be a button on the dash so you could switch between regular, plus or premium fuel. Most would not even miss the puny increase in power as a result of the extra octane. But then some would be shamed at the gas pump when they select regular gas! But then I guess most would just send their servants out to fill up their cars!

    I will burn premium in the TL - because that is what it was designed to use - but I doubt my wife (its her daily driver) would ever miss the extra power (over the 3.0L V6 Accord).
  • taxesquiretaxesquire Posts: 681
    Great post! I didn't realize the Accord and TL were so close in terms of HP & torque.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    Actually I had a typo in that post - the Accord has 244 HP at 6,244 RPM (not 240).
  • 06tl06tl Posts: 4
    very good response. I don't know if you actually know this to be fact but it makes a lot of sense. I just bought my new TL and I'm wrestling with the same issue. Only for me the diff is .25 cents per gallon for premium. so far I used plus 89 and prem 93 with no difference in performance. I have also gone easy during the break-in phase of 600miles
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    For some warped reason Acura, Lexus, BMW & MB (plus others) think a car that requires premium fuel somehow equals more prestige.

    No offense, but I think you may be a little warped in your thinking about why premium gas is required in premium brands. Maybe your definition of a premium car is "fine Corinthian leather". Many or most premium buyers - especially of sport sedans and sports cars - want to see some premium engineering and performance as well. Yes, Acura, BMW, Mercedes and even Porsche and Ferrari could dumb down their engines to the big block 1970's push rod design still used by GM. And you could probably run those on compost. Is that what you want?

    Assuming a TL runs about $8,000 +/- more than an Accord, the purchase price difference is equal to the difference in cost of 32,000 gallons of premium vs. regular (at 25 cents per gallon). You'd have to drive nearly 1 million miles using regular in your TL just to save the purchase price premium you are already paying - assuming no loss in fuel economy.

    The point is, if you find it painful to dish out an extra hundred dollars a year to put premium gas in a premium car, buy a nice standard sedan like the Accord or Camry. But please don't ask Acura, BMW, Mercedes, or Porsche to dumb down their high compression, free revving engines to accomodate your bipolar wallet. If you don't care about performance, there are plenty of automobile alternatives that will save you bundles compared to the pennies premium gas actually costs you. ;)
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    I could agree with your thinking - if the performance difference was larger. But look at the facts.

    The TL's - 258 HP VS the Accord's 244. They are basically the same engine - the TL has slightly larger diameter pistons (larger displacement) - thats why it is a 3.2L VS the Accord's 3.0L. If you think the TL's engine has some level of advanced design PLEASE EXPLAIN what the difference is I would like to know. I think your advanced engineering theory is just plain wrong.

    What level of power would Honda get if the took the 3.2L engine and tuned it for regular gas? No way to know for sure. It would be above the Accord's 244 - below the TL's 258. 250 HP would be a good guess. Do you agree with this estimate?

    So my point is - is it worth the extra 8 HP to require premium?

    Obviously if you gained 25 or 30 HP by using premium it would be well worth it - but that is just not the case.

    I used Acura VS Honda as my example because it is so easy to compare. I don't know if MB or BMW (whoever) have this clean of an example - same engine - same technology - one using regular one premium. If they do I would think the power difference would be about the same as the 3.0L VS 3.2L example.

    But wait

    Wouldn't true PREMIUM engineering be getting more power out of an engine while using regular gas? Wouldn't the easy -cheap - low tech way to gain a few extra HP out of an engine be to just tune it to use premium gas? BTW - I owned a 69 Chevelle SS 396 that required premium gas. Fun car - wish I still had it. So do you think GM was using advanced engineering back in the 60's when they designed cars with bigger displacement plus required premium? Not sure why (or how) you come up the "dumb down" comment - or why you want to drag GM into the discussion - But it seems like Acura did the same exact thing - increase the displacement (3.0 to 3.2) - and also required premium gas - just to get a small increase in power.

    So when GM increases displacement and requires premium gas in the 60's you think that is dumbing down - but when Acura increases displacement and requires premium gas in 2006 that is PREMIUM engineering.

    I stick by my opinion - main reason MB, BMW, Acura require premium is mainly due to marketing concerns - because the performance difference does not explain it.

    In a strange way - the extra $ for premium gas is not as significant as it was a few years ago. When regular gas was $1.00 a gallon - premium was $1.20 - Yesterday I paid $3.019 per gallon for premium - regular unleaded was $2.819 - same $.20 but far smaller %.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I could agree with your thinking - if the performance difference was larger.

    Say what? The TL 6-speed that I own has been tested at 0-60 in anywhere from 5.9 to 6.4 seconds by the major car magazines. I don't have those figures for the Accord V6 6-speed, but Edmunds here rates it at 7.48 seconds. That difference is ENORMOUS, in relative terms.

    About a year ago I drove the Accord 6-speed and TL 6-speed back to back with a friend and, IMO, there isn't much of a comparison. Granted, the Accord's softer suspension and weak brakes didn't help my negative feeling, but I still noticed a big difference in the engine performance. The TL revved to redline more smoothly. The torque band seemed noticably broader. I'm no mechanical engineer, but I believe part of that difference has to be attributed to the 11.0:1 compression ratio of the TL vs. 10.0:1 of the Accord. Achieving higher compression ratios in the Accord without knocking/premature ignition would require higher octane gas.

    I have no issue with someone who might judge for themselves that performance is not a priority and happily drive off in an Accord instead of a TL. But to suggest there isn't a difference leads me to conclude that your butt-meter is broken. Or worse, not being used. Forget what the published ratings are. Use your own test drives to make your own call.

    P.S. We could open up an entire Pandora's box of unrelated issues regarding performance vs. marketing. Like why, with a soft suspension, does the Accord Sedan V6 have 17" wheels and tires. My 12 year old 1995 Nissan Maxima SE 5-speed sits on 15" wheels and is both a quicker AND better handling car than the Accord V6. And, at 155k miles, is still only on its third set of tires, at under $500 a set. So, in principle, I don't disagree with you that some so-called performance enhancements are really marketing gimmicks. But I don't think you can make that claim for premium gas in the majority of the better performance engines by the Japanese and Germans.
  • starman98starman98 Posts: 119
    I tried both gas and I noticed I get better milage with premimum gas.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    Before buying the TL drove the Accord V6 coupe and sedan -(all automatics - wife's car). We both liked the TL better -(looks, handling, and power) thats why we bought it - If it requires premium gas - thats what we will feed it.

    I am not trying to say that the 3.0L Accord has as much power as the 3.2L TL - it does not - thats just a fact. What I am pointing out is part of the reason for the power increase is the larger displacement - and part is the higher compression ratio (which is why premium is required). If Acura just bumped the displacement up and kept regular fuel the power difference would not even be noticed by most.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    If Acura just bumped the displacement up and kept regular fuel the power difference would not even be noticed by most.

    On that point, I would agree with you. I'm not sure even I would notice on an automatic, since, unless you are really pushing it, it tends to shift into higher gears at pretty low rpms. What I tend to notice in the "premium" cars I considerer was that the engine was smooth through the entire rev band, which is much more evident when yu are driving a manual transmission.

    Going bigger on displacement and lower on compression and engine refinement is a distinctly American tradition. Getting the most bang per liter of displacement is what the Japanese, Germans and Italians do best. And, for awhile, the Honda S2000 was the best of the best in that department (2.0 liters, 240hp). I don't see Acura bucking that trend by simply offering bigger engines, without also tweaking out the incremental horsepower with higher compression, revised exhaust systems (MDX vs. Pilot), etc.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    You can feel the difference in how smooth an engine runs based on its octane requirement? Through the entire rev band - wow!

    Not sure how to respond to that one - I guess anything is possible - can you also predict earthquakes?

    Not saying if you take an engine designed to run 91 octane that it will run just as good on 85 octane - think the opposite would be true - but I have driven many many cars that burn regular that were very smooth & powerful.

    Even though I consider myself to be very sensitive and aware of vehicle performance I would have a hard time feeling a difference in how smooth an engine runs once it gets much over 1,500 RPM - by the time it hits 2,500 RPM even an engine that runs ruff at idle will normally be smooth.

    What you may be feeling is confirmation of your belief in the marketing hype (translation - its all in your mind).

    There are many people that will claim - that really believe they can feel the increase in power if they put premium gas in a car that is designed to use regular. Years of advertising by the oil companies that premium gas was "better" for your car still impact opinion. This is true even though the government stopped these ads years ago and even though tests show using a higher octane fuel does nothing to improve performance in an engine that is not designed for higher octane. But thats a different topic.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    If you think the engine in an Accord is just as smooth as a BMW 330i or Acura TL, then get the Accord. Personally, I can tell the difference, and I'm willing to pay the additional cost for the car - and the gas. I didn't just buy a TL 6-speed to get the extra leather and electronic do dads. I wanted a car that offered better performance than the Accord. Had the 2004 TL redesign not achieved that, I likely would have ended up in a BMW 330i.

    Manufacturers like BMW, Porsche, Acura, etc. have put considerable engineering effort in getting the most power and efficiency out of their engines. I have a 3.8 liter 911S that can match an 8.0 liter Viper in 0-60 (4.0 seconds) and still got 27.8 mpg on a 360 mile highway trip at 75 mph. Both happen to use premium gas, but it appears that Porsche is much better at using higher compression and more precise ignition timing to achieve extraordinary performance with limited displacement.

    Last fall we drove straight from Pittsburgh to Annapolis with friends (about 300 miles). We were in our 2005 Acura MDX with our two kids. The other couple was in a 2005 Honda Pilot, with no kids. Our MDX was carrying at least 100 lbs more in people and luggage. We got 24.0 mpg, they got 22.5 mpg (the EPA highway rating is 23 and 22 respectively). As I understand it, these are virtually identical 3.5 liter V6 engines / 5-speed transmissions, with the MDX having a different exhaust system. The MDX uses premium and the Pilot uses regular gas. When I originally test drove both vehicles back to back, I noticed a smoother feel to the MDX, especially under hard acceleration. Not a dramatic difference, but a noticable one. Again, we bought the MDX over the Pilot for a combination of factors, but extra do-dads would not have carried the day if I hadn't also felt the MDX was a somewhat better performing vehicle. And yet I fully respect Pilot buyers who keep that extra $7,000+ in their pocket.
  • If you visit various honda forums, the 03+ accord is tested/rumored to achieve more horsepower on premium gas. Having driven an 04 accord 3.0 for 2 years i did notice that the times i put in premium gas, there is a noticeable difference in acceleration. Generally, the car accelerates noticeably quicker in every gear. You might say it's all in my head, but I definitely did not notice such increase in acceleration when I had my '01 accord 3.0

    I now drive an 06 TL but have yet to try out regular gas. My point here is that it is certainly possible that the recommended premium gas in the TL is more a marketing scheme to further separate Honda and Acura. From the Acura standpoint, you lose power with regular gas. From the Honda standpoint, you gain power with premium gas.

    Either way, i do feel the TL has more power regardless of premium or regular gas. I do remember my 04 accord having a noticeable lag in acceleration with the A/C at full blast. In the TL, I have yet to feel said difference in power with or without the A/C on.
  • I can't speak directly to the issue as far as the new '06 or '07 models now, relate, but I can talk about the '03 models.

    I started my quest for a used car thinking Solara or Accord Coupe, lightly used. I test drove those as well as new '06 models. Then, on a whim, I test drove an ES 330. I almost bought an '05 ES, but read about tranny problems so I kept looking at similar cars and found that I liked the TL a lot. I test drove an '03 Accord Coupe and an '03 TL back-to-back and to me, the difference was huge. The toys like heated rear view mirror and memory adjustments were just an added bonus. I bought a TL because the acceleration was stronger and smoother, the ride smoother and quieter. It feels more luxurious and more sporty at the same time. For me, there is no comparison. I am happy to pay the price for premium gas.
  • The TL's - 258 HP VS the Accord's 244. They are basically the same engine - the TL has slightly larger diameter pistons (larger displacement) - thats why it is a 3.2L VS the Accord's 3.0L.

    It is true that this is not much of a difference in power, but you have to consider that these are the new SAE power ratings. The 2004 Honda Accord V6 was rated at 240hp and the 2004 Acura TL was rated at 270hp. Now from what I understand, the engines have not been changed since the cars were redesigned, so there is a much bigger difference in power, but the new ratings system seem to narrow the gap. I think that a 30hp difference justifies premium gas.
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 2,000
    I do not understand what your are trying to say.

    You know both 2006 models are rated using the same method - the difference between the two engines is 14 HP. 14 is not 30. What does the old method have to do with anything?

    The question is - how much of the 14 HP is because of the larger displacement (3.2 VS 3.0) and how much is due the higher compression ratio (reason premium is required)

    I have no way of knowing - but part of the 14 HP must be because of the larger displacement -

    Like I posted before - if you gave TL buyers a chance to re program the 3.2 L to run on regular gas by flipping a switch on the dash and the result would be the loss of 7 HP (1/2 the difference - just a stab in the dark) I would bet many TL's would have their gas tanks full of regular unleaded - really - I bet many do anyway.

    Acura's use of premium is more marketing than performance -

    I bought the TL over the Accord because I like it better for many reasons - I use premium because that is what the car was designed to use -
  • Reading through the TL-S brochure, I see that premium fuel is required. That's 20 cents per gallon more than regular gas in my area. Has anyone exsperienced ill effects from running their 2007 3.5 TL-S on regular? What's the worst that can happen?
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,629
    "What's the worst that can happen?"

    Decreased mpg and decreased performance. Long term, possible engine damage?

    Quick math: 15 gallons fuel/week @+20cents/gallon x 52 weeks = extra $156/year. Is it worth the risk for $156/yr. on a ~$38,000 car? Not to mention the decrease in mpg which will likely offset the "savings" directly at the pump.

    I hate paying for premium, but for the above reasons, I do and have kinda gotten used to it for my '05 TL.

    Penny-wise and Pound Foolish I won't be!

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • Spend the cabbage, or get a cheaper car. i hada spec V ahead of this TLS, and it too was a premium burner. They tell ya it will detune itself based on the gas in it, and who would want that. What if thats the time you mash the gas and need it to go go go. you cant afford to get passed by one of the RWD guys, giving them more ammo. i paid around 36.5 pre thanksgiving, and am happy with my deal. the guy in SD beat it, got it for flat cost or less. Great car, getting more used to it with 800 miles on it now. i stab the gas now and again, and its A OK. if you dont mash the gas on the Fwy, it'll give you 30 MPG on the display. mine is 24 avg, with a bunch of intown stuff.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    I still don't and probably never will understand the logic behind on saving $200/year while one's willing to drop 35 big one on a pretty nice car.
  • maybe get the 3.9% loan rate and a chevron card.
  • scottm123scottm123 Posts: 1,501
    I wish I only used 15 gallons of fuel per week. :cry:
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