When we go to fill our gas tanks, most of us never think twice about the quality of gasoline we’re putting in our car. We’re guilty of looking for the nearest gas station, or if we’re in close proximity to a few, we’ll choose the one with the least expensive price per gallon. However, what we’re saving at the pump may actually be costing us on a much larger scale later on down the road, as the lower quality of gas harms our engines and costs money for expensive repairs.
Back in the 1980s, the increased use of fuel injection systems was starting to create another problem. It was found that the gasoline in use was causing harmful engine deposits, leading to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandating that all fuels in the U.S. have a minimum level of detergent additives included. Recently though, it’s been discovered that this minimum detergent package is not enough to get the job done.
Certain gasoline manufacturers went even further than the EPA by creating this TOP TIER standard, requiring a higher level of detergent than set by law. In early July, AAA released a study that found gasolines with the minimum additives cause 19 times more engine deposits than those with added detergent after just 4,000 miles of simulated driving, proving that not all gasoline is created equal. Higher quality fuel costs on average about three cents more a gallon than a lesser gasoline, but switching to a TOP TIER fuel after using lower quality fuel can reduce or remove deposits that have already formed.
As part of their research, AAA also surveyed drivers to find out their beliefs and purchase habits in regards to fuel. Key findings include:
- Many drivers (2/3) believe that fuel quality does vary by brand
- But about half (47%) of U.S. drivers do not regularly buy gasoline that contains an enhanced detergent additive
- Americans are six times more likely to choose a gas station based on the price of gasoline than the quality of fuel.
Based on these findings, the consequences of using lower quality gasoline is a concern that needs to be brought to many motorists’ attention. It may be a little more expensive and less convenient to fill your tank with higher quality fuel, but it’s evident that these slight drawbacks are greatly outweighed by the benefits. Not only does using fuel with added detergent benefit your engine by reducing engine deposits, but it can also improve fuel mileage and performance. It will also result in your car having lower emissions and having a smoother idle.
Since higher quality gasoline is more expensive, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Here are some adjustments you can make to improve fuel mileage:
- Check and set tire pressures – according to the Department of Energy, every one psi (pounds per square inch) drop in the pressure of the tires will lower gas mileage by .4%. Tires can lose about 2 psi per month.
- Make sure alignment is correct – improper alignment leads to tire dragging and wear, which will decrease MPG.
- Don’t idle your engine unnecessarily – it burns unnecessary fuel, and restarting your car only takes about 10 seconds of fuel!
- Avoid heavy acceleration and braking – this can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% at around town speeds.
- Try to drive at constant speeds – use cruise control when possible to maintain a moderate speed (~50mph) and decrease aerodynamic drag.
If you commit to making the switch to high quality fuel and making these small changes to your car/driving style, you’ll ensure that your car is healthy and efficient.