If you’ve been filling your car up with premium gas, you may want to reconsider the next time you’re at the pump.
According to new AAA research, American drivers waste more than $2.1 billion annually on premium fuel. That’s a lot of gas money!
The numbers show that over the past 12 months, 16.5 million Americans ignored manufacturer recommendations, opting to fork over extra cash for premium gasoline even if their car does not require it.
But after conducting a comprehensive fuel evaluation, AAA determined that there is no added benefit to this practice.
Despite the name, “premium” does not translate to “better.”
In the United States, gasoline is usually available in three grades: 87 octane (regular), 89 octane (mid‐grade) and 91/93 octane (premium). Higher octane fuels are formulated to be compatible with specific engine designs that are typically found in high‐performance or luxury vehicles.
Currently, fewer than 20 percent of vehicles on the road require high octane fuel, while the vast majority of vehicles are designed to operate on regular gasoline.
In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested both regular and premium gas in vehicles equipped to operate on regular-grade fuel. Each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer (basically a treadmill for cars) to measure horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions in variety of driving conditions, and no significant increase was found.
“AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel,” said AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair John Nielson.
Nielson recommends that “drivers looking to upgrade to a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should save their money and select a TOP TIER™ gasoline, not a higher-octane one.”
TOP TIER refers to gasoline brands that maintain the highest standards for fuel quality with enhanced detergent additives that are proven to have a beneficial and noticeable impact on engine health and efficiency.
Previous AAA research found that gasoline meeting TOP TIER standards resulted in 19 times fewer engine deposits than non‐TOP TIER fuel. Read our story on TOP TIER gas to learn more.
Have you ever filled your car up with premium fuel despite manufacturer recommendations? Let us know in the comments.