TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The price of gas is soaring, but could you be wasting money at the pump by making a simple mistake?

Gas prices hit new record highs in the Sunshine State on Monday. A gallon of regular unleaded averages $4.76, according to AAA. Premium will cost you 66 cents more, an average of $5.42 a gallon.

But does using premium gasoline really make a difference? We asked two Tampa Bay area mechanics: Zack Bean, a mechanic at Auto Works of Tampa, and Greg Bailey, the owner of Greg Bailey Automotive.

Both experts say if your vehicle requires premium, you must use premium. Regular gas would cause premature ignition of fuel and void your warranty.

“You’ll know as soon as that bad gas starts going through,” Bean explained. “It’ll just be pinging and knocking inside.”

The damage could cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 to fix.

“It could do major damage to the engine,” Bailey added.

So what if your vehicle doesn’t require, but only recommends premium gasoline?

“We ran a battery of tests using standard protocols, engine dynamometers and certified labs to do this kind of work,” said Greg Brannon, the Director of Automotive Engineering at AAA.

AAA research shows if your vehicle recommends premium, you can use regular gas and save your cash. It’s estimated consumers waste more than $2 billion each year on premium gas when it’s not required.

“You really only get about a 3% increase in fuel economy and horsepower as a result of using premium versus regular gas,” Brannon said. “You’re much better to focus on the basic maintenance of your car and to use a top tier fuel.”

Bottom line: Check your owner’s manual or the gas door. If your vehicle recommends premium, you can use regular gas. If your vehicle is designed to run on regular gasoline, there’s no benefit at all for upgrading, according to AAA.