Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Is brand-name gas really better than generic?

When I have to take my 2008 Honda CRV LX into the shop(which is rare) it goes to a Honda certified mechanic who owns his own shop. He is passionate (nice word for zealous) about Honda’s, which is how I want my mechanic, but sometimes he goes too far in my opinion. Two of his over-the-top concerns are name brand gasoline and OEM parts. I can almost swallow the OEM parts thing, but brand name gas, well. I have doubts. All gasoline has detergents and I’m sure Exxon and Shell have more, but come on, it looks like the same truck at Joe’s Convenient Store and Gas Station as the truck I see at Sunoco. Is the more expensive gasoline better for my car?

Father drove a gasoline truck when he was a young man. He took the same gas to every station. That was before WW2.

“Top Tier” gasoline is good stuff, no matter who you buy it from. Some places get their gas from the same suppliers as those advertising 'Top Tier" however they do not want to pay for the listing. Big brand names and Costco are good. I assume Sam’s club is good too.

One big difference is the additives that are put in

Top tier gas is good for direct injection, but I don’t think your Honda has direct injection. If not, any gasoline is satisfactory. They all have additives to help keep the engine clean. Top Tier has more and possibly different additives. I did not use Top Tier in my 2005 Accord V6 and had no problems after 185,000 miles. The dealer even commented on how well the engine ran when I trade it. I do use Top Tier in my 2017 Accord I4, and it is direct injected.

But, when you consider that Costco’s Top Tier-certified gas is almost always cheaper than what everyone else is selling… Why not use it?

Of course, if there are no Costco gas stations near you, then it wouldn’t be an option. Luckily for me, there are several that I pass in the normal course of things each week.

1 Like

I think Top Tier is better for all fuel injected cars, reducing deposits. It came about before many cars were DI.

1 Like

Top Tier gas is sold by Costco and other reputable supermarket chains.

In France over 50% of gasoline is sold by grocery chains and all carry the same gas.

However if you pull into Joe’s Bait & Tackle in the Ozarks and he displays a mainstream gasoline refiner’s sign, don’t count on getting good gas.

Even top tier gas deteriorates over time and may have a lot of condensation in tit.

We tank at our local Co-op which is a member of a Federation of Co-ops which has it own refinery. But often they will buy their gas from local majors refiners.

1 Like

Until he retired driving and became a dispatcher, my brother in law in TX drove a gasoline tanker. His stops included both national top tier chains and mom and pop stores.
I’ve used “generic” gas for decades as that is all that is available in close promixity to me with never an issue.

As for your mechanic’s comments about OEM parts, you should realize that many, many “OEM parts” are made by the same company as the aftermarket parts. The part at the Honda dealer comes in a Honda branded box and the aftermarket part at the corner parts store comes branded as “XYZ” or what have you.

Some of many parts on your Honda not made by Honda, include electrics, belts, CV shafts, brakes, clutches, water pumps, radiators, clutches, bearings, seats, etc, etc, etc.
Not applicable to Honda, but many car makers do not even manufacture their own transmissions.

I think it is more important to buy gasoline at a station that does a high volume of business. The gasoline in the underground storage tanks is replenished more often. In winter months, it is particularly important to shop high volume outlets to avoid the risk of moisture having condensed in the storage tank and then being pumped in your car’s gas tank.
I think advertising has done a lot to push people to name brand products. When Mrs. Triedaq and I were dating, she was with me in the grocery store when I picked up a bag of house brand dog food for my dog. “Is that what you feed your dog”? She asked. “Yes”, I replied. “He’s just a little cheap puppy I got at the pound”. A customer overheard the conversation and that woman really lit into me about my abuse of animals. Well, that dog liked the house brand food and lived to be 15 years old. I eat house brand cereal, house brand canned goods, and.when it was available, I drank generic beer that came in a white can with BEER in big black letters. I am in my 77th year of life and still going strong. I drove a 1978 Oldsmobile thirty three years and 250,000 miles on mostly private label gasoline and it never needed any major engine work. In fact,.the carburetor was never off the engine. My present 2017 Toyota Sienna runs fine on.whatever gasoline I put in the tank.


Here’s the Top Tier list

I get gas at BJs which is not top tier, but is very high volume and low price.

I’m not convinced top tier is any more than an advertising gimmick, but perhaps…

My technique is to add a bottle of Techron every year instead of top tier. Is that equivalent? Don’t know.


Many years ago, when I was young and wandering around, I ran a gas station in a National Park for a summer. We were branded Chevron. The truck that delivered wasn’t branded anything. I asked the driver whether this was really Chevron gas and he told me it’s basically all the same, but the place where he loaded the truck was set up to add the additives and color dye that were provided by the different name brands, when the truck was being loaded. Sounded reasonable to me. I use Costco mostly, and what @BillRussell does sounds right.

Costco gas is usually the best price around and various family members buy there exclusively, my mom has been buying Arco gas since changing back from a Diesel rabbit back in 1990 and it’s nearly the same price as Costco and not as much out of her way.

With the '78 Diesel Rabbit we used a station run by the Acme Fuel company under the fast fuel brand. You got a credit card for each car in your fleet and punched in the odometer reading each time you filled up so that if you were only buying your fuel there you would get a calculation for your gas mileage on the bill that would arrive 1-2 days afterwards.

That was in the 1980’s and they’ve since gone to online billing and ways to keep someone from buying the wrong fuel, You can use the card at other stations on the commercial fueling network while traveling.

I’ve never seen an unbiased scientific analysis on gasoline quality vs brand. Or on the amount of contaminants in gasoline from brand to brand or station to station. My strategy has always been to buy at a branded station that sells a lot of gasoline. In my area, that’s Arco. I prefer branded stations b/c the brand is an important asset to the company, so they have an incentive to do all they can to provide problem-free gasoline.