Today’s AAA National Average $2.361

Prices updated as of
5/23/17 3:41 am ET

Fuel Quality

Fuel Quality

Gasoline Quality: More Than Just Grade Levels

Did you know substantial differences exist in the quality of gasoline sold at United States fuel retailers—whether you’re buying regular, mid-grade or premium fuel?

According to AAA’s independent laboratory testing, gasoline that meets TOP TIER™ standards for enhanced engine-cleaning detergent additives keeps engines significantly cleaner than other tested fuels.

Americans are six times more likely to choose a gas station based on gasoline price rather than quality, however. But by selecting a quality gasoline, drivers can minimize engine deposits, increase vehicle performance and improve fuel economy.

Findings

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 can reduce fuel economy, increase emissions and negatively impact vehicle performance, particularly on newer vehicles.

Since TOP TIER gasoline is widely available, provides fuel economy and vehicle performance benefits and costs an average of just three cents more per gallon, AAA urges drivers to consider the gasoline when it’s time to fuel up.

History

The Environmental Protection Agency mandated a minimum level of detergent for all gasoline sold in the United States in 1996, but some automakers believe the mandate doesn’t go far enough to ensure optimal vehicle performance or their ability to meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions requirements. The TOP TIER program and performance standard were developed to guarantee that program participants’ gasoline meets engine cleanliness targets that are stricter than the original EPA guidance.

Decisions

Despite the fact that two-thirds of U.S. drivers believe gasoline quality differs between gas stations, a AAA survey shows that when it comes to selecting a gas station, Americans value convenience and price over quality.

Gas station choice

Three-quarters of U.S. drivers decide where to fuel up based on station location (75 percent) or price (73 percent).

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of U.S. drivers choose based on a rewards program.

Only 12 percent of U.S. drivers select a station based on whether its gasoline contains an enhanced detergent package.

Nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. drivers don’t regularly buy gasoline that contains an enhanced detergent additive.

Men (44 percent) are more likely than women (26 percent) to regularly buy gasoline that contains an enhanced detergent package, as are baby boomers (41 percent) compared to millennials (32 percent).

To protect vehicle investments, AAA recommends using a gasoline that meets these standards for engine cleanliness and performance. And according to TOP TIER, one-third of gas stations meet its fuel quality standards. Is there a TOP TIER station near you?

Additional Resources

TOP TIER brands
Fuel Quality Report
Fact Sheet