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If 89 makes a difference over 87, you either have a problem with your engine, or the place you get your 87 has old or contaminated gas.

Have you tried 87 from a large gas station that is well kept? One of those "top tier" or "tier 1" stations that are supposed to have the good stuff.
 

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If you have no engine "spark" knock, especially under acceleration, you don't need higher octane.

I agree---try a different brand.
 

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I agree with the above. ^^^. Some winter blends don't seem to be as good when they went to the 10% Ethanol blend. Maybe just me, but our Escort was sensitive to the blends of differing branded gas. It was always stuttering on Exxon and Texaco. Burned the QT brand and RaceTrac just fine. Those are discount brands as well. It also did better mpg wise at the discounters... :shrug: go figure.
 

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If you look in the manual it even states that you do not want to use anything other than 87 octane fuel. Like the others have recommender I would go and try some new brands.
 

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For us, 89 octane has been netting anywhere from 230-280 miles to the tank versus 200-220 with 87 octane. Almost all of our driving is under ten miles both ways and in city traffic.
 

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I get terrible performance out of 87, after the E3 plug swap.
Running on 93, and it's better than before. Oh well.
 
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