Are you putting the right kind of gas in your car?

June 21, 2016

gas

If you're like me, you've often wondered if the premium gas is worth it or does it really matter to the function of your car. Gasoline is expensive and you're looking for every possible way to save money at the pump. Like any topic of discussion, there will always be varying opinions. Let's shed some light on this.

Edmunds.com put this question to experts in several fields, including an automotive engineer at a major car maker, gasoline manufacturers and two engineers with the American Automobile Association (AAA). It boils down to this: You can stop worrying about cheap gas. You're unlikely to hurt your car by using it.

Because of the advances in engine technology, a car's on board computer is able to adjust for the inevitable variations in fuel, so most drivers won't notice a drop off in performance between different brands of fuel, from the most additive-rich gas sold by the major brands to the bare-bones stuff at your corner quickie mart.

For some though, spending a few extra pennies per gallon provides peace of mind to someone who just purchased a new car and wants to keep it as long as possible. People with older cars might not be as concerned about their engines longevity.

Steve Mazor, chief automotive engineer with the Automobile Club of Southern California, summed it up this way: "Buy the cheapest gas that is closest to you."

But this doesn't mean that all gas is the same, even though it starts out that way. The fuel from different filling stations comes from a common source: the "base gas" from a refinery. Workers there mix additives mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency into the base gas in order to clean a car's engine and reduce emissions. Then, the different gas companies — both off-brand and major brands — put their own additive packages in the gas to further boost both cleaning and performance.

"It's not like any of the fuels are totally junk," says John Nielsen, director of engineering and repair for the AAA. "If you buy gas from Bob's Bargain Basement gas station because that's all that's available, it won't hurt your car," he says.

Nielsen recommends that drivers look in their car's owner's manual to see what the car maker recommends and, when possible, follow that guideline. People who are still concerned about gasoline quality can ask a specific oil company if it has performed independent testing to substantiate its claims.

The major oil companies spend millions of dollars convincing buyers that their gas is superior with catchy ads. So is it all just a marketing gimmick?

Jim Macias, Shell Oil Company's fuels marketing manager says, "We really believe there are differences in fuels. We can see it, feel it and measure it."

Macias says the gunk caused by fuels with insufficient additives can foul fuel injectors and even trigger "Check Engine" lights in as few as 10,000 miles.

"I use only mid grade or above in my vehicles. The low grade gas has a higher percentage of ethanol which leads to various problems that we see here at Cornerstone," says Josh McCoy, Cornerstone Automotive's Manager.

When all is said and done, the choice is yours. Do your research and make your decision from the information you collect.

Give us a call and we would be glad to discuss it with you!