Sheetz offers $3.99 gas for July 4 holiday – but is it safe for your car?

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Convenience store chain Sheetz has lowered prices to a steal for the July 4 holiday weekend, but not all cars are eligible to take part.

A release sent out Monday by Sheetz said all of its stations would cut the price of unleaded 88 gas to $3.99, and ethanol 85 flex fuel to $3.49, effective immediately. Sheetz’s price for unleaded 88 is almost one dollar lower than the national average, which sat at $4.90 Monday, according to AAA.

The prices for other fuel types, however, weren’t mentioned in the release. A photo taken by Nexstar’s WCMH at a Columbus, Ohio Sheetz indicates they did not get the same deal, with unleaded 87 still standing at $4.77 per gallon. The U.S. Department of Energy lists unleaded 87, 88 and E85 among the common types of gasoline, with unleaded 89 through 94 also sold at other gas stations.

The numbers stand for the octane rating of the gas. The U.S. Department of Energy said the rating can tell how well the fuel will resist engine knocking, which is when fuel burns unevenly in the engine and potentially causes damage to the engine’s cylinder and pistons, according to Firestone Auto Care. Most cars can use unleaded 87, but some luxury cars require higher-grade gas types to work with their high-performance engines.

The U.S. Department of Energy breaks octane ratings down as follows:

  • Unleaded 87 – Regular grade gas
  • Unleaded 88 through 90 – Midgrade
  • Unleaded 91 through 94 – Premium

Specifically, Sheetz said the following kinds of cars can use its unleaded 88 gas:

  • Cars made in 2001 or later
  • Light-duty trucks
  • SUVs
  • Flex fuel cars

The best way to know what kind of gas to use in a car, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, is to check the owner’s manual to see what octane rating the manufacturer recommends using. However, the government agency also said while gas rated lower than the manual requires can damage a car’s engine, it’s possible to use gas at a higher octane rating than what the manual states.

“For most vehicles, higher octane fuel may improve performance and gas mileage and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a few percent during severe-duty operation, such as towing a trailer or carrying heavy loads, especially in hot weather,” the agency wrote. “However, under normal driving conditions, you may get little to no benefit.”

E85 flex fuel, the other gas Sheetz is offering on discount, is specifically for cars labeled as being able to use flex fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy said a common way to tell if a car is flex fuel-approved on models after 2008 is to see if it has a yellow gas cap, or an “FFV” or “Flex Fuel” badge on the car’s body. However, the government agency added that a flex fuel car using E85 instead of unleaded 88 also gets anywhere from 15 to 27% fewer miles per gallon.

Sheetz said its dramatically lower price points for unleaded 88 and E85 are intended to reduce pain at the pump for Americans, and that the offer would be valid immediately, lasting through July 4.

The Altoona, Pennsylvania-based company has more than 640 locations across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina.

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