"No-name" gas quality question

I try to stick with brand name (Conoco, Philips, Shell, etc.) gas for my BMW 328i. I’m curious what the “no-name” gas stations/convenience stores sell. Do they buy from whoever happens to have the best deal? Is their gas the same as others? Different additives, etc?

Thanks in advance,


The “no-name” stations buy the same Exxon, BP, Texaco, etc, that you get in branded stations. It may be a different truck each week, whoever has a load to deliver. You will never know which brand you are getting but rest assured it is of good quality.

The gas is the same. The additives vary.

Some people are comfortable with the additives from the off-brand stations and some people aren’t. I’m sure both sides will be represented here before too long. Alternating off-brand and brand-name gases might be a reasonable compromise.

We have had this post at least 3 times before, and the answer is always; “it’s the same gas from the big compnies, and how good it is depends on the quality of the vendor’s tank and pumps”.

In other words, don’t tank gas at Joe’s Bait & Tackle out in the boonies; he may have received good gas initially, but by now its skunky, may have water and sediment in it, etc.

In France, over 40% of all gas sold is by supermarkets and other retail chains that have nothing to do with oil companies. In fact, many oil compnies are losing interest in retailing, since the big box stores do so much better job at less cost!

Ever since the repair function of a service station went elsewhere, the caliber of employee needed only to be the MacDonald level, and the ability to sell snacks and coffee was more important than knowing gasoline.

So look forward to more no-name outlets and big box stores taking over gasoline retailing.

I would advise that you stick with name brands and avoid the chance of getting gas that has the minimum amount of additives. While gas basically all comes from the same place when it is processed/refined- individual companies determine which additives to put in this gas. Those additives help keep things clean and makes a big difference. You should see how poor quality fuel in some country’s can do some major damage. BMW was among one of the major automakers to push for top tier fuel: http://www.toptiergas.com/index.html

Now when it comes to differences between Mobil, Shell and Chevron you start to split hairs some, so basically avoid the no-name stuff to be safe. Some of it could be alright, but there’s no way to know. Oh and run premium in that 328i-you’ll see an improvement in your gas mileage and a slight performance improvement that will offset the cost.

They may be getting fuel from trucks with names on them but they also get gas from whomever. The name trucks are unloading the bottom of the load ( silt and all ) and that mix doesn’t garner any kind of consistancy of octane. The no “names” are also the places with no maintainance, no facility design, and no one who gives a ratsass. Case in point just five miles north of me is a place where the is ALWAYS water in the holding tanks after a big rain…always silt in customers tanks…and no one who cares. It’s not always a matter of the quality of the gas that goes into the station but what comes out ( and into your car ).

The gas is the same. The additives vary.

True to some extent. However in the US, and I would guess most other countries, there are minimum additive levels set and in most states they are checked. This minimum is sufficient for most all engines. Some people will always want more and some stations sell gas with more additives.

With the exception of those cars where the owner’s manual specifies " Top Tier " fuels there is little if any reason to consider looking for “better” fuel. For most all cars there is nothing to be gained. If you have a car that calls for Top Tier, I suggest you get it.

i go by the ‘look’ of the place. if they cant maintain a decent appearance, and have dirty outsides, then the tanks and the inside of the tanks is most likely bad too.

but if the place is good looking, and is well maintained, then try it.

imho, the additives are BS. it is the octane that is important. the additives are not related to octane. they are detergent or "injector’ related and ore of dubious value.

look on CR for info about gas quality.

Detergents of dubious value??? You must be kidding-there’s a mandated minimum of detergents in all gas because otherwise we’d have a bunch of gummed up fuel injectors in everyone’s cars. Detergents are absolutely critical with modern fuel injected cars.

This is my personal experience:
Our '03 Civic Hybrid ran fine on no-name gas for the first 100K miles, and then started hesitating and bucking at low speed. We started using top tier gas in it and it started running well again after about 3 fillups. We now switch back and forth between top tier and no-name and it seems to run OK. Our other cars have always run fine on no-name gas.

[i] In Edmunds’ forums some drivers expressed concern about the quality of gas sold at independent gas stations and advised sticking to the so-called “name” brands of gasoline.

“Typically the only difference is the additive package they put in the gas,” Beard said. The additive package is often put into the gas as the tanker is filled up at the refinery. A common additive is a detergent agent. “The law requires a certain level of detergents in gasoline. Shell, for example, is putting in more detergent. ? Whether that has a measurable effect to the driver is debatable.” [/i]

the only error i see here is is additives are not added at a refinery, but at a distribution terminal.

ok, i may have used the word dubious too carefree. i MEANT the different companies brands are BS techron, system 3 v power, mobil one etc etc etc are just marketing gimmicks.

ALL petroleum sold is mandated (in the US) to have detergent. so that means even the no name brands have it. which is best, who cares. which laundry detergent is best, who cares. which brand auto is best, who cares. which type of TV is best… WHO CARES!

it is ALL personal preference. ce la vie. let it live.

Cappy–If you take a look at the Top Tier Gas website, you may come to a different conclusion. The site lists the tests for engine deposits
and the specifications that a company’s detergent package must meet in order to comply with the Top Tier standards. Most of the tests and specs come from BMW, but they are also used by GM, Honda, & Toyota. Recently, VW and Audi also climbed on the bandwagon, and they also recommend the use of Top Tier gas in their cars.

A friend of mine was experiencing driveability problems with his '01 Accord. I suggested that he switch to Shell (the only Top Tier brand in my area), and after 3 or 4 tankfuls, the driveability problem went away. Since the Shell station is also the cheapest name-brand station in the area, we both continue to patronize it, and his car remained trouble-free (until a very bad woman driver broadsided it!).

well. it is funny you put it that way, the better half and i have been having go arounds over the T&C spitting and sputtering. i’ll try a couple tankfuls of shell and see.

but in 27 yrs of driving, and 6 cars, i have not really noticed a difference.

AND i am always skeptical of advertising claims. the seller has a vested interest in promoting THEIR point of view, and slanting all evidence towards their benefit.

i guess doubting thomas fits my description.

Part of the situation is that the current administration in Washington allowed a reduction in the levels of detergent additives several years ago, so the frequent statement about all gas brands having sufficient detergent levels is now an outdated notion. This reduction in gas detergent additives (and an apparent increase in driveability problems) led BMW and a few other car makers to come up with specifications for a higher standard than the newly lowered government standards.

For very complete information, take a look at the Top Tier gas website.

It’s all the same IMHO and if anyone has problems with no-name gasoline it may not necessarily be the gas but may be a problem of fuel contamination or the fact their car simply started screwing up for some reason not related to the gas.
Since most of the public has heard the phrase “bad gas” the gasoline always becomes the suspect.

I live in a rural area and have been using no-name gasoline from different sources for 25 years and have only had one gasoline quality problem in 24 years. That problem was not gasoline quality so much as a case of severe fuel contamination which occurred with fuel from a local farmers co-op.
There has never been an engine performance problem due to this no-name gasoline.

For what it’s worth, my brother in law runs a few gasoline tankers in a major metro area in TX and he drops fuel off everywhere; from major stations to mom and pop operations.

Keep in mind that while many people have been known to blame bad gas for problems, it very seldom turns out that the gas was the problem. If additive packages in the no-name stations was not sufficient to do the job, we certainly would hear about it here. We would get lots of questions that end up being poor gas quality, but we don’t.

Note: There is a real difference when it comes to the octane rating. If you use too low a octane for a car that needs high octane you can damage the engine. There is even a very remote chance that you can damage an engine by using too high an octane.

All I can say is, if there’s a reason for me to remove a cylinder head, I can tell right off who uses the cheap no-name gas and who uses the Top Tier gas. The cheap gas users have the backsides of the intake valves/piston tops covered in carbon. Those that use the Top Tier gas have no deposits in these areas.

Just an observation.