Cheapest vs morexpen$ive gasolines?

Costco vs Conoco vs Shell vs Sinclair (Bradley) gasolines

Is there any meaningful difference between the various brands?

One of our volunteers says we should pay the extra 10 cents/gallon for Shell or Conoco rather than using the cheaper Bradley Sinclair gasoline in the 2008 Expedition or 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid emergency medical transport vehicles.

Is it worthextra cost?

(We don’t knowhat brands Costo or grocery stores sell.)

Thank you.


Generally there is very little difference. The basic fuel comes from the same sources no matter what the brand name is on the pump. The difference is mostly in the additives added. Often the tanker delivers the same fuel to different brand stations, but he may be adding a different additive package.

Often the difference in price does not mean any difference in the product or it's quality. 

In short there is seldom a meaningful difference. 

The one factor you can easily confirm is the octane rating and that should be posted on the pump.  The problem is that higher octane does not help anything as long as whatever fuel you do use equals or greater than recommended by the manufacturer of your car. 

 Now is that about as clear as mud?  

 BTW often the same truck delivers to different brands.  Costco in one city  may be buying their fuel from Shell this week and Golf next week, and different supplies in another city.

Gasoline is gasoline. Brand does not matter. As long as you buy the correct octane it makes no difference where you fill up.

You might want to look at just to further muddy the waters.

I am a Bottom Tier kinda guy.

Why isn’t everyone “Top Tier”?
Are additives expensivenough that some companies do not purchase them?

Due to our altitude, 5,200 feet, we use 85 Octane even though the manual calls for 87 Octane.

The difference is in the profit margin not the supplier which is generally the same. Gasoline is fungible and runs through the same distribution pipelines to the local and regional distribution centers. If there is a difference it would be at the pumps and how well stored gas and the pumps are maintained from there which is tightly regulated regulated. Even your heating oil runs through the very same pipeline with separators between it and other fuels. It’s convenient and more profitable for all esp. automakers who know consistent fuel additives in every area of the country.

I’ve been putting Sinclair gas in my BMWs, Mercedes and Audis for years. Sinclair Oil is one of the oldest oil companies in the US – started in 1916. They own oil fields, production facilities, pipelines, distribution and gas stations. The Bradley Sinclair stations here in Denver have some of the lowest gas prices in town, and never a quality issue. As others have mentioned, there is very little difference between brands of fuel. They market their additives under different brand names but they all do the same thing.

One of my first memories of a gas company is playing with an inflateable ‘Dino the Dinosaur’ from the neighborhood Sinclair station. Sinclair has gone through lots of changes, at one point it was bought out by what became the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). That company is no more, having been absorbed by BP and CononcoPhillips. The ARCO stations on the west coast are owned by BP, I think, while Sinclair is now a separate refining and gas marketing company, with a small oil/natural gas production group.

As to the original question, I buy Top Tier gas at a ‘Quick Trip’ station because it is close and no more expensive than elsewhere. I guess I would pay a nickel a gallon more to get the assured level of gas detergents in TT gas over cheapest unbranded gas.

No contest. The expensive gasolines cost more.