Do You Always Put Premium Fuel In Your Car? Yeah, You Should Probably Stop Doing That
That old myth about premium fuel making your car get better fuel mileage? Yeah, well, it might, but that’s not the point as you will learn. It doesn’t even matter if your gas cap says premium fuel is “recommended” right on it. It’s still not worth it in almost all cases.
But don’t just take my word for it. Take the word of a little something called the American Automobile Association.
According to new research from AAA, premium gasoline offers some benefit to select vehicles, but is becoming increasingly expensive for drivers. In recent years, the price gap between premium and regular-grade gasoline has risen from a historically steady 10 percent to 25 percent or more per gallon.
While past AAA research has shown no benefit in using premium gasoline in a vehicle designed to operate on regular fuel, new testing indicates that some vehicles – those that recommend, but do not require premium gasoline – may see increased fuel economy and performance under certain driving conditions when using the higher-octane gasoline.
Unfortunately, the high cost of premium gasoline may outweigh that advantage for many drivers. As a result, AAA recommends drivers weigh the potential benefits against the cost of using premium gasoline, if their vehicle does not require it.
See that second to last word? REQUIRE? That’s the key.
“There’s no question that higher-octane premium fuel has the potential to boost a vehicle’s fuel economy and performance, however, engines have to be calibrated to require that fuel to see the full benefit,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Based on AAA’s testing, vehicles that only recommend premium gasoline can’t take full advantage of higher octane fuel and, as a result, the benefit that comes from upgrading to premium gasoline may not offset its high cost.”
Here’s another staggering finding for you. In a study released last year, AAA discovered that consumers wasted nearly $2.1 BILLION dollars fueling vehicles that do not recommend or require premium with the higher-priced, higher-octane gasoline.
All that being said, not all non-premium gasoline is the same. There are actually significant differences in the quality of fuel depending on where you purchase it, according to AAA.
Among brands tested, non-TOP TIER gasolines caused 19 times more engine deposits than TOP TIER brands after just 4,000 miles of simulated driving. Such carbon deposits are known to reduce fuel economy, increase emissions and negatively impact vehicle performance, particularly on newer vehicles. To protect vehicle investments, AAA urges drivers to use a gasoline that meets TOP TIER standards for engine cleanliness and performance.
So there you go. You can probably stop buying premium fuel for you car. Just make sure the gasoline you are buying is chosen less based on price rather than quality by only using TOP TIER gasoline.