Gasoline: What Is It? Which Is the Best for Your Car?

Gasoline is a type of fossil fuel commonly used to power millions of internal combustion engine vehicles. It is one of the most important oil derivatives in the world since its production and distribution facilitates the transport of people and goods worldwide.

In this article, we will tell you about its composition, its properties, the types of gasoline that exist in the national territory, the factors that affect its prices, as well as some tips to improve its performance.

What is gasoline?

Gasoline is a flammable fuel derived from the processing of crude oil. When this hydrocarbon is extracted from the subsoil it goes through a fractional distillation process known as "refining".

During refining, crude oil is heated up to 600 ºC under high pressure, this causes the separation of its different components (including liquid hydrocarbons such as diesel, gas oil, gasoline, etc.) due to the difference in their boiling points and density of its vapors.

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‍ Gasoline. for example, evaporates from crude oil at 100ºC and once it leaves the fractional distillation tower, which can reach 50 meters high, it is condensed and transported to storage tanks.

Once gasoline has been distilled, it goes through a refining process in which certain additives are added to modify its octane rating and anti-knock response. Once the above is done, this fuel is ready for distribution and direct sale at the gasoline pump.

Gasoline Properties

Gasoline has many chemical and physical properties that you must know to determine its quality and performance. Here are some of the most important:

Gasoline Density

The density of gasoline is an important property because it helps determine its quality and purity. Knowing its density is critical when transporting it, since the exact volume contained in the transport vessels or in the tank trucks can be determined. The density of gasoline can vary depending on its composition, but it is generally between 0.71 g/cm3 and 0.75 g/cm3.

Gasoline Combustion

Currently, most vehicles worldwide are powered by internal combustion engines. These engines are specifically designed to burn regular gasoline inside the combustion chamber, in a controlled manner.

For this to happen, air and fuel must be mixed and then subjected to an increase in compression in order to extract its maximum energy potential.

As the compression of the mixture increases, the heat levels increase, so it must withstand extreme temperatures without burning or exploding. It is only when the spark plugs give off the initial spark that the mixture must ignite in a controlled way to start the engine's pistons and thus be able to move the car.

If this combustion does not take place in a controlled manner, the explosion can produce a "knock" that can wear out the engine and the pistons, thereby reducing their useful life. To avoid the above, it is important to check the recommended octane rating for your car.

gasoline octane

Octane is an index that allows us to identify the stability of gasoline at high pressures without it burning spontaneously in the engine cylinder. This indicator is calculated using two main methods: the Motor Octane Number (AKI) and the Research Octane Number (RON).

It is important that you know that the higher the octane rating of the gasoline, the more compression it can withstand and therefore it will take longer to ignite, thereby reducing the "knocking" in the engine.

On the other hand, gasoline with a lower octane rating burns faster, and with less compression, so the "knocking" generated inside the engine is greater.

Gasolines are currently classified according to their octane level as follows:

  • Regular Gasoline: Which contain 87 octane
  • Mid-Grade Gasoline: Which contain between 89 and 90 octane
  • Premium Gasoline: Which contain between 91 and 04 octane

The octane rating of gasoline is an important factor in determining its price. In general, high-octane gasoline costs more than gasoline with a lower octane, which is why it is more expensive to fill the gas tank of your car with premium fuel than with regular.

We suggest you review your car's Owner's Manual to find out what the recommended octane rating is for your vehicle.

Types of Gasoline in Mexico

In Mexico there are generally two types of gasoline, which are mainly marketed by Petróleos Mexicanos, under the brands: Pemex Premium and Pemex Magna.

Premium Gasoline

Premium gasoline is the highest octane gasoline distributed nationwide. It is generally marketed under the Pemex Premium brand, which contains 92 octane, although today there are other gas stations in Mexico that offer alternatives with a similar octane level.

Due to its refinement process and low levels of lead and sulfur, its price is a little higher, however it offers various benefits such as: less waste in the engine, it emits less pollutants and increases the life of the engine.

Magna Gasoline

Magna gasoline offers an octane level considered to be regular. With 87 octane, this unleaded gasoline is distributed in the country under the Pemex Magna brand, although it is also possible to get this regular gasoline at other gas stations of different brands.

This unleaded gasoline is sold at affordable prices due to its octane rating and chemical characteristics. That is why its performance is also a little lower and its emission of air pollution is higher.

Gasoline Performance

It is important to know the gas performance of your car since it will be an expense that will directly affect your personal finances. Gasoline performance is expressed in kilometers per liter, that is, the distance you can travel with a liter of gasoline.

Some studies estimate that the performance of a liter of gasoline in a mid-range car driven at a constant speed is between 10 and 12 km. However, this performance is calculated under controlled laboratory conditions so actual performance may be affected by various factors such as engine characteristics, compression capacity and your driving habits.

Here are some of the most important factors that can affect performance:

  • Dirty air filter: A dirty air filter can increase fuel consumption by up to 10%. The most recommended thing is that you go to a mechanical workshop to receive the necessary technical assistance to replace the filter and avoid unnecessary consumption.
  • Car with little maintenance: Automotive maintenance can help you save up to 30% in gasoline consumption. That is why it is important to frequently check the tuning of your car, the state of the injectors, the combustion cycle, etc.
  • Correct air pressure in tires: If the tires of your car are not inflated to the correct pressure, the friction between the pavement and the rolling area increases, which in turn causes up to 5% additional consumption of the levels of gasoline from your car.
  • Warm up the engine for more than a minute: A gasoline vehicle can consume up to 100 ml for every 10 minutes that it is running empty. It is best to heat it for a maximum of 30 seconds and then gradually start it moving.
  • Sudden acceleration: Yes, we know that the adrenaline of a good acceleration is unique, however every time you do this you consume large amounts of gasoline and increase fuel consumption by up to 50%. Therefore, if you are interested in making the fuel yield even more, it is best to accelerate gradually.
  • Driving at high speed: Similarly, driving your car at high speeds consumes large amounts of gasoline. For example, a car that runs at 110 km/h can consume up to 20% more than one that runs at 90 km/hr. It is best to drive at a constant speed.
  • Heavy traffic: Traffic jams, in addition to wasting time, quickly reduce gasoline levels. As we have mentioned, keeping your car running without moving it can increase gas consumption by up to 15%. To avoid this, the best thing you can do is drive through less busy streets and at times when you can avoid congestion.
  • Excessive use of air conditioning: We know that it is very uncomfortable to drive your car in the sun. Unfortunately, these high temperatures can cause you to use the air conditioning excessively which, together with the emission of gasoline vapors, can increase gasoline consumption by up to 10%.
  • Excess weight and luggage: The more weight you carry in your car, the more gas mileage you'll experience. It is estimated that for every additional 50 kg of weight, fuel consumption increases by up to 2%.

Gasoline Additives

There are some chemicals specifically designed to improve the performance of automotive fuels. These are commonly known as additives and are added directly into the gas tank.

There are different types of gasoline additives depending on their chemical composition and use, among the most frequent we can mention the following:

  • Stabilizers: They have the function of reducing fuel loss caused by the evaporation and release of gasoline vapors during the combustion cycle.
  • Antioxidant additives: Their main function is to retard the oxidation and deterioration process of the base oil, as well as the formation of residues and acids derived from oxidation in the gasoline tank.
  • Corrosion inhibitors: These types of additives are designed to include corrosion and oxidation inhibitors with the main objective of preserving the useful life and characteristics of the engine.
  • Defoamers: Antifoam additives prevent the formation of air bubbles that could stimulate the oxidation process and thus damage both the lubrication circuit and the combustion chamber.
  • Antifreeze: The main objective of this type of additive is to modify the chemical properties of the fuel to prevent it from freezing in the gasoline tank and ensure that it can flow through the entire system even at low temperatures.
  • Injector cleaning additives: They have the main function of facilitating the cleaning of all system components, including valves, rings, pistons and cylinders. They also help keep fuels clean, extending the useful life of the engine.

Gasoline Prices in Mexico

Although Mexico is an oil-producing country, since it does not have sufficient refining capacity, fuel trading companies have to import refined gasoline from abroad. This implies that gasoline prices may vary depending on the following factors:

  • International Reference Prices: As you know, the price of oil is quoted in dollars in the international market. The average price of these quotes are directly influenced by the daily volume of supply and demand for this raw material. Since gasoline is a derivative of oil, any movement in international oil prices can positively or negatively impact the demand for gasoline in the country, and therefore its prices.
  • Taxes: In Mexico there are two taxes charged on gasoline: VAT and IEPS (Special Tax on Production and Services). VAT is a fixed percentage tax (16%) that is charged to the consumer for the sale of fuel. However, the IEPS is a variable tax which is directly affected when gasoline prices change. For example, if gasoline prices go down, the government increases the IEPS tax to compensate for the loss of income it experiences with low prices. And on the contrary, when gasoline prices rise, the IEPS works as a fiscal stimulus that helps protect the consumer.
  • Gas station profit margin: Another factor that affects the price of fuel is the profit margin that companies earn. This profit percentage is not regulated by the government, so its variation depends entirely on the free market. It is estimated that in Mexico the profit from gasoline sales can be around 10% to 20%.
  • Logistics costs: As you can imagine the processes of extraction, refining, storage and transportation of fossil fuels have an inherent logistics cost which is transferred to the final price you pay at the gas station.

In summary, the price of gasoline issued at service stations in Mexico is calculated as follows:

Retail price of gasoline = reference price + margin + IEPS + VAT + other concepts

In addition to these factors, there are many others of a macroeconomic and geopolitical nature that can cause the price of gasoline to fall or rise for considerable periods of time.

For example, at the beginning of the 2020 period, the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries ( OPEC ) decided to reduce daily oil production to help keep prices relatively high and thus counteract the economic impact caused by the Covid 19 pandemic..

This caused an uproar in the global energy market as non-oil producing countries, who would have benefited from lower prices, had no choice but to accept OPEC's proposed measure.

Well, now that you know a little more about the subject, we hope that on your next visit to the gas station you can make more informed decisions for the benefit of your car. If you liked this content, we invite you to subscribe to our Newsletter where we continually publish advice and tips of great importance.