Does The Toyota Rav4 Need Premium Gas?


Let’s say you’re sitting behind the wheel of a brand-new Toyota Rav4 (great choice in your new vehicle by the way!) and the gas light comes on. That’s fine, you’re only a few miles away from the next gas station so you can fill up and continue on your merry way. You arrive at the gas station and are now faced with a common concern… which gas should you use for your brand-new Toyota Rav4?

The Toyota Rav4 uses regular 87 octane gas in all its models including the hybrid electric models and trims. Filling your Rav4 with an octane gas above the regular 87 should not damage your car and Toyota recommends using a standard 87 and higher-grade gas in all of its vehicles.

That should be easy enough if the gas station has that fuel available. If not, you can try elsewhere or you can risk putting in a different grade of gasoline in your car. Would you risk it? Keep reading below to find out more about the gas needed for your Toyota Rav4 and if it’s okay to use a gas not usually recommended.

Does the Rav4 Need Premium Gas?

The Toyota Rav4 does not need to be refueled with premium gas. Your Toyota Rav4 is recommended with a standard regular 87 octane fuel.

Premium gas is recommended for luxury and high-performance vehicles such as:

And that’s where the list ends for Toyota. Toyota only recommends high-octane premium gas in this one vehicle and recommends regular to mid-grade octane gas in the rest of their cars.

What is the Difference Between Premium and Regular Gas?

While most cars on our roads today take regular to mid-grade gas, some require or are recommended with premium gas.

Premium gas is the more expensive option and not all of us love paying the extra price for something we’re not even sure is necessary.

There are three types of common fuels in the US, and they only have slight differences between each.  

  • Regular-Grade 87 Octane Gas (Unleaded)
  • Mid-grade 89 – 90 Octane Gas (Unleaded)
  • Premium-Grade 91 – 94 Octane Gas (Unleaded)

The difference is in the chemical detergent additives that work to clean an engine and also in the octane that works to prevent “knocking” within the engine.

Generally, non-high-performance cars will have an engine that requires a certain resistance level to the knock in the engine and the higher-grade octane can do this for that car. A standard engine doesn’t need such a high resistance level and therefore only requires a lower-grade octane level.

If you can’t decide whether to put premium or regular gas in your vehicle, listen to your wallet and the vehicle manual.

  • If the car’s manual recommends premium gas, you get to decide if you can afford this
  • If the car’s manual recommends regular gas, you don’t need to use premium gas
  • If your manual or dealership says that your car requires premium gas rather than recommends it, we would also say stick to the premium gas for best performance.

What is Mid-Grade Gas?

Mid-grade gas isn’t spoken about very often because it’s the middle-kid (sorry middle kids).

Mid-grade gas, or 89 Octane Gas, has slightly more detergent additives than regular gas and will burn differently in your engine. The benefits are either minimal or non-existent and unless your car’s user manual recommends or requires it, you can stick with regular.

There is no benefit to using higher-grade gasoline in your car if it only requires regular gas. It will not perform better, it will not go faster, and it will not fly.

You might notice better fuel efficiency, but we put a lot of emphasis on the word “might” here. You can try it out, it shouldn’t hurt your engine, but we recommend checking with a mechanic or your local Toyota dealership first.

Will It Make A Difference To My Car If I Use Premium Gas Instead Of Regular?

If your car only needs regular gas, do yourself and your purse or wallet a favor and only use regular 87 octane gas.

Your engine is built to endure and thrive off the regular gas and adding premium fuel does nothing for your engine and only results in you wasting your hard-earned money.

As we mentioned above, adding mid-grade to premium gas in a car that doesn’t recommend or require it will not result in better vehicle performance. Your car won’t thank or hate you, it will just continue on its way to the destination without a second thought of what you’ve filled it up with.

It’s a completely different story, however, if you fill up your car with a lower-grade gas when it requires premium fuel. Find out more about this mishap below.

What Happens If You Fill Your Car With The Wrong Gas?

Fueling your gas tank with the wrong gas could cause issues but only if you’ve filled your tank with a lower-octane gas than recommended.

So, for luxury and high-end vehicles that require premium gas, you should not fuel them with regular or mid-grade gas as this can degrade your engine.

Vehicles, like the Toyota Rav4 that only require regular gas, can be fueled with premium gas without any major concerns, or any concerns at all to the engine.

If you believe you’ve filled your car with the wrong type of gas, don’t stress, we’ve all been there before and we’ve all come out alive, with our cars intact. Unless of course, you’ve filled your petroleum car with diesel and vice versa, then you have a problem. We’ll just stick to gas for the point of this article.

Here is what you should do if you’ve filled your tank with the wrong gas:

  • Nothing.

That’s right, absolutely nothing.

These days the engines in cars are designed to recognize when something “unusual” has happened and can adjust themselves and their productivity levels to suit. It’s called an electronic fuel management system.

All that happens is your engine burns gas differently and you may notice a change in fuel efficiency and need to re-fuel sooner or later than usual. Restart the odometer on your dash and keep an eye on it!

The above also stands true for vehicles that are recommended with premium gas. Your manufacturer might recommend premium gas but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use it. It is, after all, much more expensive than regular gas and not all of us can justify the price.

However, if your car requires premium gas as advised by the manufacturer and you have filled up with a lower-grade gas, you will tell the difference in the way your vehicle drives as it may become sluggish and lose speed and power.

We recommend taking your vehicle to the garage to have the fuel drained and the engine checked, cleaned, and lubricated, to ensure the efficiency of your vehicle is still at its best performance levels.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Filling your regular gas tank with premium as is ok
  • Filling your recommended premium gas tank with regular gas is ok
  • Filling your required premium gas tank with regular and mid-grade gas is NOT ok

If you have filled your high-performance car with a lower-than-required gas and it’s only happened once, it should be fine. Just make sure you give your car the premium gas next time you’re filling up.

Conclusion

Cars are such fickle things, aren’t they? We’re always asking questions about what we can and can’t do with our cars, what they can and can’t have. Here’s a quick tip, stick to the manual!

Your Toyota Rav4 uses regular 87 octane gas and Toyota Rav4s have been highly recommended and rated cars on our roads since they came to America in 1996. If the manual says regular gas, use regular gas because the Rav4 is obviously working just fine without the premium!

Matthew Robbs

I have been working on cars since I was a kid and I love taking a vehicle that isn't working and bringing it back to life. I have owned quite a few cars over the years and looking for information about different vehicles is still hard online so that is why I started this website.

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