Our Car Maintenance Pros Answer: What’s in Your Car’s Gasoline?

December 7th, 2020 by

Colorful gasoline pumps all in a row

You probably know that gasoline comes from petroleum. But what goes into the gasoline that you pump at the station? Today’s blog from Thompson Sales answers the question, “What’s in your gasoline?” 

What’s in Your Car’s Gasoline?

Gasoline typically contains up to hundreds of different hydrocarbons. These chemicals, made of long chains of hydrogen and carbon molecules, are easily burnable and form the basis of combustion. For example, candle wax also contains hydrocarbons (but wax isn’t nearly as noxious or smelly). Gasoline contains the common hydrocarbons butane, pentane, and isopentane, among others. 

How Do We Get Gasoline From Crude Oil?

The crude oil that comes out of the ground doesn’t even remotely look like the gasoline you put in your car. Refineries take crude oil and heat it up in a column. Different types of oil boil at different temperatures. Once the column reaches a certain temperature, refineries siphon off the oil. Refineries are gigantic structures that have thousands of pipes with flames burning on top of certain towers.

What Else Is in Your Gasoline?

Refineries turn oil into gasoline. Blending terminals, which are more numerous than refineries, add other substances to gasoline to give it different properties. Blending terminals are where gasoline gets pumped into tanker trucks for delivery to local gas stations. Additives to fuel may be included to comply with various state laws, federal regulations, and even the change of seasons.

Ethanol. Federal regulations mandate at least 10 percent ethanol in every type of gasoline. E85 is mostly ethanol, and it takes a modified engine to utilize the higher levels of ethanol.

Detergents. Detergents help keep your gas tank, gas lines, and injectors clean.

Deposit control additives. These types of detergents act as cleansing agents in the carburetor or fuel injectors. DCAs prevent buildup from clogging fuel injectors so your car runs more efficiently.   

Antioxidants. Fuel antioxidants prevent gasoline from gumming up, or getting thicker, in storage. These chemicals also prevent fuel from darkening and discoloring.

Antiknock agents. These chemicals reduce engine knocking, which occurs when the engine and spark plug have incorrect timing in the ignition chamber.

What Gasoline Has More Additives?

In general, high-octane gasoline has more additives in it because it has additional anti-knocking properties. Most gasoline has some kind of additives in it to increase or decrease volatility. 

Car Maintenance Tips by Thompson Sales

Thompson Sales wants you to get the most out of your vehicle. The more you know about the gasoline you put in your vehicle, the better decisions you can make regarding the maintenance of your car. Bring your car to our service department for regular checkups when it’s time! Contact Thompson Sales or call (417) 763-6811 for more details.

Posted in Car Maintenance