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The different types of gas at the pump and how they affect your vehicle

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CBS News Pittsburgh Live

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - If you haven't heard, a local gas station, Sheetz, is running a holiday sale on gas through the Fourth of July

Prices for their 88 octane gas, known as UNL88, will be set at $3.99 a gallon through July 4th and their e85 gas will also be at a lowered price. Yet, not every car will be able to run on the new gas. Here are a couple of things you should know before making the change.

Not every car can run either e85 and what Sheetz calls their 88-octane blend. More than likely your vehicle can run on at least one, the 88-octane blend. Far fewer cars can run on e85. 

Officially, the federal government has required car makers to come equipped with engine parts that can automatically adjust a vehicle to run 88-octane without a single action by the driver. Only a select group of cars can use e85. 

While the federal government says it is acceptable to use the 88-octane blend, using the fuel in your vehicle could void the manufacturer's warranty. 

The 88-octane is just a fancy way of saying e15 gas. This is a blend of gasoline that blends gas with 15 percent ethanol. 87-octane can have no more than 10 percent ethanol. The difference between 87 and 88 is an additional 5% ethanol. This is important because if you have an owner's manual from a vehicle made in 2002-2015, it probably lists the maximum amount of ethanol at up to 10 percent.

Most manuals from cars made in 2016 or later probably list the maximum amount of ethanol as up to 15 percent. e85 vehicles have ethanol amounts of up to 85 percent. Vehicles should mention being able to run e85 gas around the gas cap.

88-octane gas is better for the environment and costs less than 87-octane. While there is some debate out there on the positives with '88' it technically burns cooler than 87 when cars are equipped with the latest technology. It also can provide more power as the higher the octane the more pressure the gas causes when ignited. Pressure can be transformed into horsepower by engines but for most cars, there is little to no change in power. NASCAR runs exclusively on e15 gas and INDY cars use e85. 

There are a couple of potential negatives to running 88-octane. There should be a loss in MPG when it comes to 88-octane of less than 5 percent. When you factor in the normal cost of 88-octane, you normally come out ahead when it comes to cents per mile driven. Vehicles that are not listed as being able to run 88-octane could see long-term engine damage including a higher likelihood of seeing fluids leaking.

Engines not equipped with newer equipment to handle 88-octane could potentially overheat.

With the big sale this weekend, that difference may be hard to ignore for some. Mechanics say that any issues with using 88-octane will come from long-term usage and this weekend looks to be the perfect time to try out a new grade of gas that could help your pocketbook.

88-octane is not recommended for engines that remain full for long periods of time with generally a month as the cut-off. This means things like lawnmowers and other power tools that have combustible engines should probably stick to 87.

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