SAN ANTONIO – With gasoline costing over $3 a gallon, it’s no wonder drivers look for the cheapest station. But auto experts said it’s worth using Top Tier gas in the long run, even if it costs a few cents more per gallon.
Ask drivers what they look for when they need to fill up, and you’ll get similar answers.
“Price is important to me,” said Debbie Bermea.
“To be honest, I go wherever I see better prices,” said Christina Rodriguez.
Price is important, but so is quality, according to car experts.
That’s where Top Tier gas comes in. You see the sticker or logo on Exxon, Shell, Valero, Chevron — the big brand names.
So what is it?
First, it is not the same as premium gas. It has to do with octane.
“Top Tier gas — it has a higher detergent content than required by the EPA,” said AAA’s Josh Zuber.
All gasoline must meet the EPA’s minimum level of detergents. But when automakers wanted higher tiers to better match their newer engines, Top Tier status was born.
“It’s a step up from your mom-and-pop, unnamed gas station,” said Mike Quincy, auto tester for Consumer reports. “It’s better quality gas, according to an AAA study.”
That 2016 study had surprising results.
“AAA testing has shown that not all gasoline is created equal,” Zuber said. “Those tests show that quality gas keeps engines 19 times cleaner.”
The tests showed more carbon deposits on the valves and fuel injectors, affecting the car’s performance, increasing emissions and damaging fuel economy.
As for price, they found that Top Tier gas costs an average of three cents more per gallon. It’s worth it, according to AAA and Consumer Reports.
But Top Tier doesn’t have to cost more. QT sells it. So is Costco, which often has some of the lowest fuel prices.
This does not mean that non-Top Tier gas is bad gas. It meets EPA standards. Quincy says it’s fine to use occasionally.
But both AAA and Consumer Reports recommend drivers use Top Tier gas when possible.
To find out which retailers are selling Top Tier gas, https://www.toptiergas.com/licensed-brands/. The pumps must also be labeled with a Top Tier sticker.
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