Gasoline quality

What is the difference in quality between big box store’s gasoline like Costco/Sam’s Club and name brands:like Shell,Chevron and Unocal? I’ve heard that additives and coloring are primary differences. What about performance?

It is pretty well a “gas is gas” situation. All gasolines have enough additives for the season, and I tank wherever it is most convenient. Our local Food Cooperative has gas pumps and I use that quite often since my wife gets discount coupons on groceries.

In France, the majority of gas is sold by food stores and other retail establishments.

You may have noticed that all oil companies now sell groceries and beer as well.

The places to avoid would be Fred and Donna’s Country Imporium where the gas may be offspec remnants, or out of season, because of slow sales. Or their underground tanks may be leaking.

Each company has their specs, but they are similar. For example, if a Shell refinery has contracted to make gas for Exxon, they have to meet their specs for a large number of items, but you would not be able to tell the difference. Performance is only noticed in the octane rating.

Mostly the name and price. The government specifies a minimum level of additives and that is really enough.

In truth some the big box gasoline may be name brand fuel.

I worked at a no name brand fuel station in college. We bought the ends of tankers not wanting to return to Boston fuel depot partially full. So the regular was a mixture of however showed up and occasionally partially premium fuel too.

Nope. The additives can be quite important for keeping your valves and fuel injectors clean.
Look here:

“The government specifies a minimum level of additives and that is really enough.”

Or maybe not. According to Honda, GM, BMW, and Toyota, the current level of additives in most brands of gas is NOT sufficient, and as a result those manufacturers specify the use of gas that meets the higher standards of “Top Tier” gasoline.

The level of additives from years past may have been sufficient, but the current administration in Washington allowed a reduction in that level, thus leading to those manufacturers finding that a higher level of additives is necessary in order to keep injectors and valves clean. If you go to you can see all of the tests that were performed in order to come to this conclusion.

In my neck of the woods, only Shell gas meets the Top Tier requirements, and I have found it to be much more effective for maintaining good performance than the brands that I used previously. And, since the Shell station near me is REALLY cheap (2.97 per gallon for premium!), I get high quality gas for a very good price.

So if I have a Honda and use BJ Gasoline, it will void my warranty? I don’t think so!

The additives are the only difference. Here’s a little not-so-hidden secret: Gasoline is transported from refineries and ports using pipelines. All the major fuel producers use the same few pipelines to transport fuel. And the rules are, that if Shell puts 10,000 gallons into the pipe to be delivered, it has instant credit to pull 10,000 gallons out of the pipe at the other end that meets the same spec. But it could wind up with 10,000 gallons of Exxon refined gas at the end. The additives are loaded with the gas as it is put on a truck to go to the stations.

The thing to be weary of is some older independants that may have rusty, leaky, or contaminated tanks. The EPA has been trying to force these stations to upgrade and replace the old single wall tanks with newer non-metallic double wall tanks, so this may be less of a concern.

The History Channel had a great presentation on the “Modern Marvels” series about US pipelines. Gasoline, heating oil, etc. all travel the SAME pipelines to major distribution points. The liquid “separators” are used to keep them discrete. The trucks that fill up may have some additives that may differ slightly from one brand or location because of individual state requirements; but in general it’s all the same stuff. Same with crude from one ctry to another. We may order x barrels from Saudie Arabia, but may get the Oil from Venezuala as shipping lines are set up for efficiency like pipe lines.

I did not state that it would void the warranty. Read the information on the top tier website in order to see what the afore-mentioned manufacturers think of gasoline quality today, and then decide what you want to do.

The bottom line: We live in a democracy. You can use any gas that you want to use, and I can use any gas that I want to use.