Gas - What and Where

Settle a “discussion”: Do all gas stations have the same quality gas, so it makes no difference whether you go to an expensive or cheaper one? AND,

Do certain big cars really need premium gas or can they run on the cheaper ones?

Gasoline quality varies from brand to brand, and from station to station (e.g. how well the tanks are maintained, how much gas they sell).

The size of th car doesn’t determine whether high octane gas is needed, it’s the nature of the engine- compression ratio, forced induction (turbo- or supercharger) and the engine operating parameters. Yes, some engines will run poorly without premium fuel.

In the old days there were some real differences between brands. Today there is little difference as government regulations have provided a minimum level that is as good as 96.4% of all cars need.

Some stations (even with the same brand name) may not take as good care of it than others so you may be more likely to get contaminated or old (summer gas in winter or winter gas in summer) fuel.

High octane does not have more power or work better in all cars than regular! Octane is a measure of how it burns and some engines need high octane and some work better with it and others don’t. Some of those that don’t need it can even be damaged by using it. Consult your owner’s manual. If it says you must use XXX Then use XXX, if it says you should, then you have a choice but not using high octane when it is recommended means you will likely loose power and/or mileage.

Chevron is one of the better brands. They brag their stuff up a lot better than the others too. If the other companies don’t scream about their gas, maybe there is a reason.

Generally, the part of the gas that makes your car go comes from the same local refineries no matter what gas station you use. Different brands add different blends of additives and detergents, some of which are more extensive than others, but all of which comply with government and automaker’s standards. Chevron, for example, includes the Techron additive which is a fuel injector cleaner that is nice to add to a tank every few tens of thousands of miles, but having it in every tank of gas gives no benefit whatsoever.

Also, the no-name cheapo gas stations usually buy gas that’s left over in tanker trucks after they’ve done their delivery routes to all of their branded stations, so typically you’re getting basically the same gas as you’d get from a name-brand station, though you don’t know which one.

Yes, the government has provided a minimum level of detergent additives, but as you may have noticed, the administration in Washington has changed since that requirement was put into effect, with the result that gasoline companies are now allowed to add gasoline detergents at only 50% of the original 1995 standards.

Below is text from the website of

[b]"TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline is the premier standard for gasoline performance. Six of the world’s top automakers, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi, recognize that the current EPA minimum detergent requirements do not go far enough to ensure optimal engine performance.

Since the minimum additive performance standards were first established by EPA in 1995, most gasoline marketers have actually reduced the concentration level of detergent additive in their gasoline by up to 50%. As a result, the ability of a vehicle to maintain stringent Tier 2 emission standards have been hampered, leading to engine deposits which can have a big impact on in-use emissions and driver satisfaction.

These automakers have raised the bar. TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline help drivers avoid lower quality gasoline which can leave deposits on critical engine parts, which reduces engine performance. That?s something both drivers and automakers want to avoid."[/b]

If you go to the top tier gas website, it will give you a listing of the brands that have not reduced their additive levels and thus, are the only brands of gas recognized as being appropriate by BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi.

In my part of the country, only Shell gas meets the top tier standards, but that is okay because one of the Shell stations near me is also the cheapest name brand station in the area. Getting more and paying less–Who could argue with that?