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I have a 2001 SAAB 9-3. I was told that I should use a high octane fuel...that it would extend the life of the turbo. Is this true?

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3 Answers 3

I would suggest checking the owners manual to see what Sabb requires for a minimum octane fuel.It should be 93 octane for your motor.That being said higher octane fuel will not help the turbo last longer.Octane ratings are a measure of the fuels ability to resist engine knock.Engine knock is caused by fuel ignition with the piston in the incorrect position.Engine knock will cause engine damage and shorten it's life but won't effect the turbo.What you can do to increase the turbo's life is change the oil regularly and allow the engine to idle for a minute or two after highway speed driving.This allows the turbo to slow down while engine oil is still being circulated through the turbo's bearings.

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His Saab does not require a minimum of 93 octane. That is not even widely available; there are many areas where 91 is the highest commonly available octane. The owner's manual, as you suggest, will list the recommended octane for optimum performance (and mileage), and the minimum - which for Saab 9-3's is likely to be either 87 or 89 (and many Saab owners find the increased mileage from using 90+ makes it more economical than using a lower octane fuel). –  qes Apr 17 '12 at 3:56
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mikes is right: the octane is required for the engine, not the turbocharger on it's own. Said another way, the requirement for higher octane is a consequence of having a turbocharged motor vs. a normally aspirated one.

We've discussed some of the associated issues before. Here is some relevant discussion on the subject:

What are the benefits of premium (high octane) petrol?

Difference between high octane and low octane?

Static vs. Effective compression: Why does higher effective compression not require higher octane gas?

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Well, if you run fuel that's too low an octane and the ECU is forced to retard the timing to compensate, then exhaust gas temperatures would go up... Turbos run pretty hot to begin with. Making it even hotter will in theory decrease it's lifespan some. Measurable though? I don't know...

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