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The average national retail price of premium self-serve gasoline currently is topping $3.78 a gallon. Fuel costs are leaping by nearly 40 cents a month. And drivers who are pumping premium are undoubtedly asking themselves if they can safely switch to regular, which is about 20 cents a gallon cheaper. The answer is yes.

You’ll find in today’s automobiles that advances in engine technology mean that even if the owner’s manual recommends premium gasoline, the car will typically run on regular without knocking. Its performance will suffer only slightly: Perhaps it might be a half-second slower from zero to 60 mph. The key for drivers is to know whether premium gasoline is merely recommended or if it’s required.

Edmunds has compiled a couple of lists that include vehicles from the 2008-’12 model years, and they will tell you whether your car falls into the category of premium “recommended” or premium “required.” If your vehicle is on the “recommended” list, you’re OK to switch to regular unleaded gasoline. If, on the other hand, your owner’s manual says that your car requires premium fuel, then you should run premium fuel.

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