More Snake oil?



“Top Tier” gasoline is nothing new, the requirements and designation began at least 12 years ago, maybe more if I recall. It began when GM, BMW, Toyota, and Honda set out specifications for fuel detergency and additives that helped keep injection systems and engines operating properly. The EPA standards for fuel quality had been lacking and Top Tier was an industry effort to keep up with the technological needs of the cars on the road.

Oxygenated fuel is also nothing new, it’s been in use since 2006 or earlier.

Oil companies are also free to introduce their own brands of additives and supplements into their gasoline, and some have differing amounts of detergent depending on the grade of gasoline.


Driving home from work the other day, I drove past 3 different filling stations, all at the same intersection

They all used different trademarked names, in reference to the detergents

Nothing new here, as @asemaster said


California uses its own formula for gasoline. I have no idea what it is, but the story goes that all the petroleum that is used to make fuel sold in California comes from the ground in California. Supposedly there are no pipelines into California.


California imports about 2/3 of the oil it uses, by ship:


One of the problems is that it’s not terribly uncommon to get different gas than you think you’re getting. Maybe the station advertises top-tier, but isn’t selling it. Or thinks it’s selling it but the distributor screwed up and sent them sub-par stuff.

You’re not even guaranteed to be getting the gas that the station is identified with. Sure, maybe Texaco is top-tier, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting Texaco gas at a Texaco station. That little factoid came to light after Deepwater Horizon. People were boycotting BP stations, but the trouble was that a lot of those stations weren’t actually selling BP gas, and stations that weren’t BP-branded were, so the boycott ended up not even really being noticed by its target.


Started back in the very early 90s.
By 2006 the government actually dropped the requirement because the newest reformulations no longer needed a separate oxygenate…


I’m not loyal to any particular brand of fuel system cleaner. I tried using Seafoam to clean the carbs on my old motorcycle, and it didn’t make a difference. I’ll use whatever is inexpensive and available on the store shelf.


Thanks for that information. I had no idea. Once more proven wrong! It’s the one thing I’m getting really good at.


That makes the whole Top Tier rating pretty useless… Although that depends on the frequency of the mis-labeling. If it occurs 10% of the time, you are still getting 90% Top Tier gas. Maybe that is good enough?

edit: maybe adding your own detergent, such as Techron is the better route. But how often to add it, and how much? Says once 12 or 20 oz per oil change. That’s about $7 per 6k miles, pretty cheap.


Well, I’ll put it this way. I’ve got 5 cars right now. 4 of them have more than 100,000 miles. Three of them are either approaching or recently passed 200,000 miles. I’ve never put a bottle of Techron into any of them.

I don’t see the necessity.


I see your point and tend to agree. Then, what is the whole Top Tier thing? I did read the positive review in CR…


Unless you think that this is a giant conspiracy on the part of Honda, Toyota, GM, VW, Audi, Mercedes & BMW, I think you have to accept that these manufacturers see a need for a higher level of detergency in gasoline. Yes, some cars will run decently for a long time without those stronger detergents, just as some people can subsist for years on a junk food diet. However, it would be irresponsible for anyone to suggest that everyone should eat only junk food.

Before the easy availability of Top Tier gas, I used to use a bottle of Techron twice a year in order to prevent problems. Now that ~95% of the gas brands in my area are Top Tier certified, I would actually have to go out of my way to buy gas that isn’t Top Tier. As far as I know, the only gas brands in my neck of the woods that are not Top Tier are Gulf, Speedway, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and the various unbranded stations.

Since my nearby Costco almost always charges less than any of those non-TT stations, Costco is my go-to place for gas. If I am on the road, I can use almost any name brand of gasoline and still get TT gas.


I don’t understand why all oil companies don’t get onboard with Top Tier? Apparently the cost is minimal.

Specially Gulf, Sunoco, BJ, which are the ones near me.


It costs more for the additives that make gasoline top tier. The seller can either sell it for less and still make money or sell it for the prevailing price of top tier gas and make more money. Some people look for the cheapest gasoline they can find. Direct injection engines probably do benefit from top tier gasolines, but I’m not so sure about the rest of us. Mrs JT has used mostly Sam’s Club gasoline in her Silhouette for 14 years and 188,000 miles with no obvious ill effects. I also used Sam’s gas in my old Accord, along with Shell (top tier). When I traded the Accord, the used car manager commented about how well the engine ran for a car with 190,000 miles on it. It was about half and half top tier and not top tier, BTW.


For the longest time, Sunoco was one of the hold-outs, but if you check the Top Tier Website, Sunoco is now listed as a Top Tier certified brand!

Other recent additions to the TT list are Marathon and Citgo. However, there are no Marathon stations anywhere near me, and I refuse to patronize Citgo as a result of its ownership by the Venezuelan government. But, because most of the stations in my area sell Shell, or Exxon, or Mobil, or Conoco, or Valero, or BP, or Phillips 66–all of which are TT-certified, I have a lot of places to buy TT gas, in addition to Costco.

In any event, I think that it is a good idea to check the TT website periodically, to see if other companies have decided to become certified.


I buy most of my gas at Mobil. Down the street is Kwik Trip that sells TT gas. Two things: I don’t like their pump software that is like answering 20 questions before you can start in the cold and rain, and I’m a loyal kind of guy. Through thick and thin with gas shortages way back, the Mobil owner always came through with gas to get to work and back. On the road though I like stations with fresh stock like the truck stops and don’t worry about it. The only fuel problem I had was with diesel in 1981 at a truck stop in Des Moines where they had crap and water and something growing in their fuel.


Try adding some to your Kool-Aid…yummmmm…



If top tier gas was easily available, I might be using. I don’t have one anywhere near where I work or live.


Had you offered evidence rather than slogans, I’d feel guilty about flagging that comment as spam.


I guess I don’t know what BG is and not familiar with the products by that name. Like I said, I really don’t use these additives except for the induction cleaning every 20 years or so and Briggs fuel stabilizer for my small engines.