Today’s AAA National Average $2.521
Price as of 1/26/20
Premium Fuel Research
Premium Fuel Research
Gas prices are top of mind for most U.S. drivers. Unfortunately, things like fluctuating oil supply, regional price differences and disruption in production are all out of the consumers’ control. AAA has begun conducting specific research into different types of fuel in an effort to help drivers make smart decisions at the pump.
Do vehicles designed to run on regular gas benefit from premium?
If you’re one of the 16.5 million U.S. drivers who has used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation, press that 87 octane button and save yourself some money. AAA’s analysis found that there is no benefit to using premium fuel in vehicles designed to run on regular gas or that recommend, but do not require premium gasoline.
AAA tested regular and premium gasoline in vehicles designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. The laboratory testing found no significant improvement in horsepower, fuel economy or emissions, suggesting the practice of using premium gasoline when it’s not required for the vehicle offers no advantage.
The costs add up quickly. Drivers unnecessarily used premium gasoline in their vehicles more than 270 million times in the past year, at a cost of $2.1 billion. A better option, according to AAA’s studies, would be to use a fuel that meets TOP TIER™ standards, which results in 19 times fewer engine deposits. Such deposits decrease vehicle performance and reduce fuel economy.
Do vehicles that recommend, but do not require, premium benefit from the higher octane fuel?
Since 2010, the price gap between premium- and regular-grade gasolines has steadily risen. Drivers of vehicles that recommend but do not require premium gasoline should look at their driving habits and weigh the potential benefits against the increased costs of choosing premium-grade gasoline.
Vehicles tested by AAA in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California found modest improvements in both fuel economy and performance when simulating extreme driving scenarios such as towing, hauling and rapid acceleration. However, there was less of a benefit in typical city or highway driving situations.
Some high-performance engines are specifically designed to operate on premium fuel and need the higher octane. Vehicles designed to run on regular gasoline cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating or produce more horsepower using premium fuel.
The safest strategy is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations found in your owner’s manual.