AUSTIN (KXAN) — The worst of the gas shortage is over in the Austin-area, and while most gas stations have plenty unleaded fuel in stock, fuel concerns aren’t over for drivers whose vehicles require premium fuel. Most gas stations in central Texas have put up signs saying they’re out of plus and premium grade gas.
According to the Texas Food and Fuel Association, many refineries aren’t distributing higher octane fuel for the time being.
“As far as super unleaded, that takes additional refining time, so that’s why that’s kind of put on the back burner for now,” said Texas Food and Fuel Association president Paul Hardin.
Distributors are playing catch up after too many people rushed to the pumps following Harvey. Hardin says getting out as much regular fuel as possible is the top priority because that’s what emergency responders and most drivers need.
For those who drive more expensive cars, mechanics say the premium fuel shortage could be a big problem, however.
“As soon as you put in regular gas, you’re going to notice a check engine light,” said Eric Hagood, assistant manager at Muffin Muffler. “I expect to see a fair amount of people coming in that have run unleaded in premium vehicles and overheated their catalytic converters, melting them down.”
Hagood says drivers should not put unleaded fuel in older cars that require premium, at the risk of burning up the engine immediately. More modern cars with computer chips, however, can generally handle a couple of unleaded fill-ups.
“You’re going to lose power, you’re going to lose fuel efficiency,” Hagood said, “but you should be able to do it for a little bit.”
Hagood recommends that anyone with a car that requires premium fuel should add an octane booster, if forced to fill up with unleaded. He says it will slow down the rate at which the fuel burns.
KXAN asked the Texas Oil and Gas Association how much longer drivers should expect shortages of premium and plus fuel, but did not get a direct answer. A spokesperson said the industry is working to resume normal operations as quickly as possible.