Car News

AAA Reports Not All Gasoline Created Equal

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Russ Heaps July 2016

Most of us buy our gasoline the same way we buy sugar: by price, not brand. There was a lot more brand loyalty back when gas was $0.30 a gallon compared to today. Oil companies such as Shell and Texaco actually hyped their level of customer service and fuel quality, claiming cleaner engines, better mileage, friendlier service and so forth. "You can trust your car to the man who wears the star!" was the Texaco jingle. Today, it's all about price per gallon.

As gas prices rose into triple digits, car owners focused more and more on pricing posted on gas station signage and less on the benefits of any particular brand. Gas is gas, right? Not really, according to results of testing by the nonprofit motoring organization AAA. Its findings show that performance and engine life can be enhanced by the fuel we buy.

Price and Convenience

AAA found that more than 60 percent of U.S. drivers believe there is a difference in gasoline quality from one brand to the next, but:

  • Three quarters of drivers buy gas according to location (75 percent) or price (73 percent).
  • Roughly 30 percent of drivers choose a gas station based on a rewards program.
  • Nearly half of all drivers don't regularly buy gas containing an enhanced detergent additive.
  • Only 12 percent of drivers choose a gas station offering fuel with an enhanced detergent package.

When choosing between fuel quality or price and convenience, drivers will nearly always opt for price and convenience.

What's the Difference?

There's a lot of chaos in an engine as it runs. Fuel doesn't simply pass through it; it ignites. Even burning a piece of paper leaves some ash and residue behind. Likewise, igniting fuel in your engine leaves behind a carbon residue. A buildup of this carbon residue will drag down fuel efficiency (fewer miles per gallon), increase emissions and make your engine work harder, increasing wear and tear.

The proper amount of detergent additives in fuel can prevent carbon residue buildup in today's engines, but they add to the per-gallon cost -- about three cents, according to AAA.

EPA Standards

In 1995, the government, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mandated oil companies to add a certain amount of detergents to each gallon of gas. However, as car engines have evolved and become ever more complex, several carmakers believe EPA standards haven't kept pace.

Carmaker Solutions

Eight carmakers -- General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Audi -- that are convinced the EPA detergent additive standards fall short have come together in support of a higher standard for detergent fuel. Known as TOP TIER, it is currently the highest cleanliness standard for fuel performance.

What Is TOP TIER?

TOP TIER is a class of fuel containing greater deposit control capabilities agreed upon by the participating carmakers. To meet TOP TIER standards, a gasoline brand must meet this higher standard of engine cleaning through deposit-control additives, cannot include harmful metallic additives and must be available across all octane levels.

According to AAA, roughly one out of three gas stations offer the TOP TIER standard for fuel.

AAA Findings

Choosing a market in southern Texas with fuel representative of gas sold across the United States, AAA secured the expertise of an independent company to compare deposit buildup in cars using TOP TIER fuel versus cars using non-TOP TIER gas.

After just 4,000 miles of simulated driving, the amount of carbon-deposit buildup in cars not using TOP TIER fuel was 19 times greater than in those using it.

What it means to you: A cleaner engine means less wear and tear, better performance and fewer emissions. Most gas stations pumping TOP TIER gas display the TOP TIER logo. Find out more at TOP TIER Gas.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
AAA Reports Not All Gasoline Created Equal - Autotrader