Some high octane advice for this husband.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

My wife Janet, I had always believed, loved me. Which is precisely why I was always allowed to have your radio show on in the house, despite her objection. Otherwise, you two gentlemen would have been relegated to where my wife boards the dog: downstairs in a dank utility room locked inside a diminutive kennel marked as follows: "I am lucky to be alive; I am absolutely the last concession provided to Joe; this marriage will tolerate no other of Joe's likes. I do not have a name." As an aside and for your information the dog was, in spite of her lowly status, quite happy. But now, suddenly, and as a direct result of your actions, my wife likes you guys, and doesn't like me!

It all began recently when you two home wreckers wrote an article that said high octane fuel is of no real additional value to most cars. I have been filling my 1989 Eagle Premier with 93 octane fuel since the day I bought it, much to the dislike of my compassionate mate. And until I saw your article, I was supremely confident in my continual reassurances to her that the car would last much longer because of this healthy diet of the good stuff. Like I said, that was before you two blew it. Now, my wife is completely convinced that I have a slightly lower IQ than your run-of-the-mill road kill. Adding insult to injury, she also truly believes she is as smart as you guys. Now the dog is sad, my five year old daughter draws pictures only with the color blue, my two year old son has developed an odd affinity to the underside of chairs; and me? Well, I'm simply depressed.

Please, if there be any good left inside either of you, would you please (I am begging) unconditionally retract your mean spirited comments regarding the use of high octane fuel. Could you also be sincere when you do so? If you can't do that, could you at least explain in some more detail why higher octane fuels are of little use. Thanks.

RAY: Gee, after reading your letter, Joe, we're starting to sympathize with your wife.

TOM: You've fallen for the marketing hype, Joe. Like many people, you have come to equate octane with "goodness." Therefore, the more, the merrier, right?

RAY: But it's actually more like shoe size. You want the one that fits. Getting a shoe that's smaller than you need is no good. But getting one that's too big won't necessarily make you run any faster, or make your foot last any longer.

TOM: Some years ago, high octane gas was recommended for fuel injected cars, because at that time, only high octane gas had detergents added to it. But now all name brand gasolines have detergents, no matter what the octane rating, so that's not an issue any more.

RAY: High octane fuel is specifically designed for higher compression engines, which need slower burning fuel. For the rest of the cars on the road, it's just a waste of money and a source of extra pollution.

TOM: So check your owners manual, and use the octane the manufacturer recommends. If the car pings or doesn't run well on that octane, take it in for service, because something's wrong with it.

RAY: Sorry we can't offer a retraction, Joe. But perhaps we can offer one useful suggestion for your domestic problems. When my brother was a kid, he was unpopular, too. We ended up tying a porkchop around his neck. It didn't make any of the other kids like him, but it did get the dog to play with him. I'd try it, Joe.

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