AAA Report: Not All Gas is Created Equal

woman fuel filler gas premium gas

A new study may have you thinking twice about where you fill up and what gasoline you’re putting into your car.

The American Automobile Association’s new fuel quality study is one that surprised its own researchers. It found significant differences in gas quality among retailers depending on the use of detergent additives. The additives are designed to make fuels cleaner and better for your engine. Some retailers use more additives than others.

Independent lab tests compared gasolines that meet Top Tier standards with brands that don’t take part in the automaker-backed program. (Click here for a list of Top Tier brands.)

Non-Top Tier gasolines caused 19 time more engine deposits than Top Tier brands after just 4,000 miles of simulated driving. Carbon deposits are are known to reduce fuel economy, increase emissions and hurt vehicle performance. AAA says this is true especially for newer vehicles.


“AAA was surprised to learn the extent to which detergent additives impact gasoline quality,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “As advertised, tested TOP TIER gasolines kept engines remarkably cleaner than other fuels we tested.”

Detergent additives have been added to gasoline for more than 20 years to help keep fuel system components clean. They prevent the buildup of carbon deposits on critical engine components such as fuel injectors, intake valves and combustion chamber surfaces.  In 1996, the EPA established its standard for the lowest amount of detergent additives permissible in gasoline. But some automakers didn’t think that standard went far enough and they created the Top Tier system in 2004.

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Despite all this, gas quality doesn’t seem to be top of mind to drivers surveyed by AAA. Its survey also revealed most drivers choose a gas station based on convenience and price, not gas quality. Even though two-thirds of drivers believe there is difference in quality of gasoline sold by different gas stations.

To protect your car, AAA urges drivers to use a gasoline that meets TOP TIER standards for engine cleanliness and performance. Click here to see the entire AAA Fuel Quality report.

For more info on Top Tier gasoline check out this video.

Photo Copyright: Gergely Zsolnai/Shutterstock
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