Buying the best gas is easier than it may seem. Here's an excerpt and my take on a Sun Sentinel story out earlier this week. The truth about gasoline: Does the brand you buy really make a difference?
Excerpt: Q: Is there any real difference between gas at “name-brand” stations such as Mobil, BP, Shell, and Chevron compared with cheaper, off-brand fuels?
A: Two years ago, travel club AAA had the same question about an additive formulation called TOP TIER, which some gas stations say provides significant benefits. “They wanted to know, ‘Is this just marketing hype?’” says Mike Kunselman, spokesman for the TOP TIER Center for Quality Assurance, a Midland, Mich.-based licensing organization.
Second, gasoline and additive industry research evaluated by AAA showed that switching to a TOP TIER or enhanced additive fuel will clean up the carbon deposits created by the minimum standards fuel. Intake valve deposits were reduced by 45 percent to 72 percent after running 5,000 miles with enhanced additive fuel, the report said.
“Gasoline with enhanced additive packages, such as those in the TOP TIER program, will not only help prevent carbon deposit formation on critical engine components, they will also reduce existing deposits that have accumulated over time,” the report said.
Bottom Line: So, the answer is yes, if the off-brand fuel isn’t in the TOP TIER program. As was cited in the story Amoco, BP, Chevron, Citgo, Costco, Exxon, Marathon, Mobil Shell, Sunoco, Texaco and Valero are all in the program. So are many others. Here’s a complete list: https://www.toptiergas.com/licensed-brands/. All in there are 61 companies that are in the TOP TIER program. So, there’s a really good chance that even your off-brand participates in the program but it’s worth checking if you’re in doubt.
Otherwise, the question that often comes up is about octane. The story discussed it briefly but here’s what decades worth of research has shown. If your car calls for a higher-octane fuel, it needs it and you should use it. If it doesn’t there will be no benefit for your car and you’ll just be paying more needlessly.
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