Toyota. They print a neat book called "the Owner's Manual." Not only
does it have the answer to your question, but it has a lot of important
information. You need to read it carefully.
I am quite serious about this. You bought a $30,000 piece of equipment.
You need to learn about it.
My car takes high octane fuel, too. But it works just as well on
According to Wikipedia, the Avalon has the same engine as the ES350, but
uses regular fuel. My guess is that the ES 350 will also take regular
fuel, but will have slightly lower performance (2% less horsepower and
torque), a difference you will probably never notice.
At one point, Lexus made sure to point out that use of lower octane fuel
would not damage the engine.
Then one year, they took that out.
Trust me, use of lower octane fuel will not damage the engine. The car
doesn't NEED it. Marketing NEEDS it, because stupid buyers think that
higher octane fuel is "premium". And of course a "premium" car would
naturally require "premium" fuel, right?
Even though the base engine is sold in millions of Camrys.
You are correct, over the years many small 4cy Japanese engines were
designed to run on higher octanes as they were spun up, so that they could
advertise higher HP figures. Unfortunately spinning up an engine to gain
HP also lowers the torque curve relationship, separating the torque and HP
curves results in cars equipped with an automatic tranny being a slug when
one needs that torque to get going and maintain speed on grades. The 4cy
in a Camry is a prime example
Modern microprocessors can easily de-tune an engine by adjusting the F/A
ratio and timing to run on a lower octane fuel that for which it was
designed, however it will not run as efficiently as it will if run on the
fuel for which it was designed. When an oil company implies your car will
run better or premium fuel, they are not being disingenuous because they are
not referring to all cars, rather those designed to run on premium, not
running your 89 octane car one 93 octane
Engines designed for higher octane's can easily run satisfactorily on 87
octane fuel. Modern microprocessors can do-tune to compensate for fuels
with an octane rating lower than the 93 or 91 octane rating for which the
engine was designed to be the most efficient, as long as the result does not
cause excess pollution. At that point the check engine light might
eliminate as the O2 sensor detects insufficient O2 content. The
microprocessor does the same to run on engines that use 89 octane gasoline's
when fueled with gasoline's that contains up to 15% ethanol but the result
is fewer MPGs
replying to Elmo P. Shagnasty, Tom Obrien wrote:
I disagree with that line of thinking. Toyota does not sell gasoline so what
benefit is it to them if you pay more for fuel? I would think it would be the
other way around. "Yes, this is a top quality car but, it runs on regular
unleaded gasoline. BONUS!!" The manual for my 2015 Avalon states "87 octane".
replying to Tom Obrien, Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:
You aren't a marketer. It is not good marketing to make people who bought a
premium product, think that their product isn't premium. You'll hear it all the
time in the car forums: "if you can't afford the service, you can't afford the
car!" People use that excuse to make themselves feel better about having spent
the money on the car to begin with. "Sure a Toyota oil change is $40, but that
Lexus oil change is $150--therefore it's better, and of course it is, because
it's a much higher level car!" People love to fool themselves, and marketing
people are in the business of helping them fool themselves so they'll happily
pay more money.
I hold by my statement that at one point, Lexus actually put it in the owner's
manual explicitly that lower grade fuel would not hurt the car. That's still
the case; they just don't write it down, that's all. The engine electronics are
designed to protect the engine.
Does the Lexus have different performance maps built into its computer, to take
advantage of higher octane fuel? Yes. But the protection systems in the
sensors and computer are all still in place. You could use Mexican piss gas for
a tankful, without damage.
In no way does Lexus want their buyers to think that their premium car uses
"ordinary" anything, from the service schedule/pricing to the gasoline.
87 pump octane, otherwise known as "Regular gas".
It says so in the Owner's Manual that came in your glove box. This same
document will also tell you how to effectively operate such carnal
pleasures as the radio and power/heated seats. You have read this book, no?
Different engine. Different car. Different market.
It's like the difference between Hyundai and Rolls-Royce: Low end, high
end. You don't expect the same thing from both ends at the same time.
I don't think the OP actually owns an Avalon. It appears to me that he
owns an ES350 and wants to know if the Avalon can run on regular,
which it can. He could have determined this from a number of on line
sources. One such is http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm .
Different than what? Basically just a gussied up Camry at a luxury car
price. See http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/reviews/lexus-es350 /.
Except in the case of an ES350, you can expect it to do anything a
Camry will at a 20% to 30% higher price. The Avalon is a little
different than the ES350/Camry. It has a slightly stretched passenger
compartment, but uses the same basic engine as the ES350 and the 3.5L
V6 Camry. For 2008, they all get the same 6 speed automatic
transmission. And for all practical purposes they have the same EPA
fuel economy (well actually the Lexus ES350 get 1 mpg less on the
highway, but I suspect this is because all the Lexus ES350s have "all"
the optional equipment which slightly lowers fuel economy, I suspect a
fully optioned Camry would be about the same).
I am not saying Toyota is the only company that badge engineers
moderately priced sedans into "luxury sedans" but the ES350 / Camry is
a particularly obvious case (another is the Ford Fusion / Lincoln
MKZ). I suppose there is some cachet to impressing your friends with
your "Lexus" unless they happen to know it is for all practical
purposes a Camry with slightly better interior trim (that ironically
reduces overall passenger volume compared to a Camry).
As for the original question. I am sure either car will run just fine
on regular fuel. The PCM in the Lexus is probably "tuned" to provide
optimum performance on premium fuel, but I am sure it will be able to
adjust to run on regular (with some loss in performance and fuel
economy).You need to check the fuel economy on both types. The
difference using regular could be as much as 5% less (depending on
driving style). The increase when using premium probably won't cover
the higher cost of premium, but it will certainly reduce the apparent
saving of using regular. Hard drivers are likely to see more of a
difference than gentle drivers, so that should factor into the
decision as well.
Yes, but the ES350's Owner's Manual specifies 91 octane, whereas the
Avalon's says 87 octane.
This suggests the Lexus's engine has some fundamental difference from the
Avalon's, such as a higher compression ratio.
Let's settle this using real science. :-) I have a 2002 Tacoma double cab,
6-cyl auto. Black sand pearl, also known as black. Optional winter floor
mats in front. The manual says it should be happy with 87 octane gas. I go
to the same three gas stations for the most part. But occasionally, if I'm
away from my home area, I'll buy 87 octane from a no-name station, and I'll
get some knocking, and not just when I'm really getting on the gas. Just
normal acceleration. So now, if I'm buying from a dealer I'm not familiar
with, I'll buy a half a tank. If it knocks, there's room in the tank to add
some 93 octane.
Now that's science!
When I first got the truck, I was making the same 200 mile trip every couple
of weeks, all highway driving with some moderate hills. I found no
difference in mpg with different grades of fuel. If there was a performance
difference, it wasn't noticeable. I'm not drag racing. I'm just driving. I
used cruise control for the flat highways, but not in the hills, for obvious
I sometimes tow a 1000 boat/trailer. That's about 1/3 the towing capacity of
the truck. With 87 octane, I lose 1-2 mpg on hilly roads, and nothing on
flat roads. So, for certain trips, I'll use the middle grade fuel. It's an
extra $1.60 for a tankful.
Your Tacoma has a knock sensor, so the knocking should go away after about 3
seconds. If it continues to knock, check out the knock sensor and base
In a vehicle that is programmed to use 87 octane, there will be no
performance improvement by using higher octane fuel unless there is a
problem with the engine or engine programming. Ignition timing is
programmed to advance based on engine RPM, and the ECM will retard ignition
timing if it starts getting a signal from the knock sensor. In the absence
of a signal from the knock sensor, the ignition timing will advance by its
programmed amount, so there is nothing to be gained by higher octane fuel.
Actually, it suggests more that the marketing people stuck their hands
into things and overrode the engineers.
The marketing people have a vested interest in the buyer thinking that
he has something "better". And as we all know, public perception is
that "premium" gas must be better because they call it "premium"--when
the only difference in most cases (except Shell) is octane rating.
Running grocery store 91 or 93 octane gas is probably worse for your ES
than running Shell 87.
So why do you think Shell is better than BP, or Chevron, or Texaco?
Remember Shell is the company than refined gasoline that destroyed
thousands of in tank fuel level sensors because of excess
I'll bet you the "Shell" gas in Southeastern Virginia comes out of the
same refinery as the BP gas in Southeastern Virginia (although I am
sure the additive packages are different). GM, Toyota, BMW all
recommend the so called "Top Tier" gasolines, and Shell is one of the
providers of this type, but not the only. Ford recommends BP (but
doesn't require it). And remember that until Chevron took over Texaco,
Shell and Texaco gasoline was actually provided by two joint ventures
owned by Shell, Texaco,and Aramco (look up Equilon Enterprises and
Here are out of date description of Equilion and Motiva:
"EQUILON ENTERPRISES LLC. On January 15, 1998, Shell Oil and Texaco
Inc. ("Texaco") reached agreement on the formation and operational
start up, effective January 1, 1998, of Equilon Enterprises LLC
("Equilon"). Equilon is a joint venture which combines major elements
of both companies' western and midwestern United States refining and
marketing businesses and both companies' nationwide trading,
transportation and lubricants businesses."
"MOTIVA ENTERPRISES LLC. As reported in the Company's Current Report
on Form 8-K filed with the Commission on July 1, 1998, on July 1, 1998
Shell Oil, Texaco and Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) jointly
announced the formation and operational start-up of Motiva Enterprises
LLC (Motiva), a joint venture combining major elements of the three
companies' eastern and Gulf Coast United States refining and marketing
businesses, including assets previously held by Star Enterprise, a
partnership of corporate affiliates of Texaco and Saudi Aramco. Shell
Oil has 35 percent ownership of Motiva, and Texaco and Saudi Refining,
Inc., a corporate affiliate of Saudi Aramco, each have 32.5 percent
ownership of the company (such ownership to be subject to adjustment
in the future based on the performance of the assets)."
After Chevron purchased Texaco, they were forced to divest their
interest in Equilon and Motiva. Around here, that meant most Texaco
Stations became Shell Stations. The gas is still the same as before,
even the additive package (referred to before as "System 3" at Texaco
I think you are fooling yourself if you think Shell gasoline is
"special," at least compared to other major brands. And remember,
Shell owns the company that markets "Slick 50." It is hard to trust a
company that sells that snake oil.
You will win that bet! Current environmental laws do not allow different
type of gasoline to be stored or transported in the same container at
different times. I E Today a tank truck that loaded regular can not be
reloaded with premium etc, without first being purged and the purge medium
disposed of environmentally. When the seasons change from hot to cold for
example and the volatility must be changed every thing must be purged as
well. One of the reason gas cost so must today are those types of federal
regulations. Companies need to buy more trucks as a result. The same is
true of the gas lines. A company can not pump gasoline through a line that
is different than what was pumped before. The days of pumping a given
number of gallons of one brand, to a tank farm, and then a given number of
gallons of another brand, are long gone. In the old days they would simply
draw of the last, say 50K of the one brand and 50K gallon of the next brand,
or one octane rating and another, to purge the line. The draw off, known as
"plug" gas was sold of to independent stations.
Today all of the gasoline(s) pumped, designed to meet the environmental
requirements of a given area, or a state, are the same. The gasoline sold
at brand X station in one state or area is different than the gas sold by
brand X in another state or area, as well. The oil companies refer to it
as "57" varieties compliance. For example one does not get the same brand
X gas in Nevada as they do in California. Sunoco gas in New Jersey contains
15% ethanol by law and in Pa it does not necessarily contain ethanol.
Today the gasoline is drawn off at the different brand terminals, the
different additives, coloring and such for that brand are added at their
terminal giving them their "own" gasoline. After Katrina, and the loss of
production causing a shortage was ramping up the price of gas, President
Bush issued an order suspending "57" varieties compliance for two weeks
allowing any gas to be transported to any were and that brought the price
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