Fill it regular: Drivers wasted $2.1B on premium gas last year, study says

Discussion in 'In the News' started by ALS, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    [​IMG] Using gasoline labeled "Top Tier" is a more useful way of ensuring better car performance…

    [​IMG]Marisa Iati – – Sept. 20, 2016

    Drivers who pay extra for premium gas wasted $2.1 billion at the pumps last year, according a new study by AAA.

    The research found that 16.5 million U.S. drivers put premium gas in cars that only require regular-grade gas. Those who opted for premium anyway got no extra benefit to vehicle performance, the study found.

    "Drivers see the 'premium' name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle," said John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. "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."

    AAA partnered with the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center to test regular and premium gas in vehicles designed to use regular fuel.

    They measured horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions while using both types of gas and in various driving conditions. The result: No significant increase in any category when premium gas was used... Read more
    Jay, fishnrib, xcel and 1 other person like this.
  2. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    These studies that say "no benefit" to premium--do they account for the fact that premium in many areas is E0? I know people that buy premium because it's the only grade in their area that's ethanol free, so it's not so much what premium has but what it doesn't have that commands the higher price. And pure gas does deliver better fuel economy than E10 (or worse).
    JonNC likes this.
  3. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I don't know how many people want to pay $.70/gallon more to get premium. That's the differential here. I think their study is wrong. Not sure what their agenda is , but I'm not buying it. Yes, there are a handful of people who buy it because it doesn't have ethanol. A handful. I hate to think that our citizens are that dumb to buy something their car doesn't need.
  4. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    A few years back, I ended up trying a tank of 93 octane in the Elantra. It was warm summer weather. Tank average was the same as all the regular (87) tanks before and after - within normal variance from week to week. Basically, people think they're giving their car a "treat" with the hi-test - more detergent and "smoother" performance. These are the same people who use 24K gold plated oxygen-free copper cables for digital device connections. Digital transmission has enough error correction that you could use a 99 cent Shanghai Special video cable and it will give you the same image on screen as one costing a hundred times as much.
    Mendel Leisk and BillLin like this.
  5. thunderstruck

    thunderstruck Super Moderator

    Wait, you're saying my $100 Monster HDMI cable was a waste of money? It has gold plated connectors so it must be better.
  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    This was on CBC Market Place a while back, on the fallacy of using higher octane where regular is fine:

  7. alster

    alster Well-Known Member

    When we had our 2014 Volt which is required to use 91 octane or more (premium gasoline) we used it. I then went ahead and used a tank of regular Costco 87 octane gas and what do you think happened. Nothing, still the same mpg and performance as premium. Infact sometimes it seemed we obtained better mpg with 87 octane.
    From that time on for 20,000 more miles all we used was regular gas with no problems, no check engine light ever came on, no bells and whistles warning of its use.
    When we finally traded our Volt in we drove it nearly 90 miles to the dealer and we obtained 45 mpg just on the gas engine using 87 octane. This one way trip we left at sea level and arrived well above sea level as well....

    We traded our beloved 2014 Volt for a 2016 Volt which now can use regular 87 octane gas and gets mpg just on the gas engine to mid to high 40's mpg even though the engine is still breaking in....
  8. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I've tried both in mine, which is supposed to run on 87 "without causing engine damage" but 91 or better is "recommended for best performance and fuel economy" per the manual. I haven't seen a difference in fuel economy but it does run better on high-test. It's hard to describe but on regular gas it sorta goes...limp. Odds are they have programmed it to pull timing and boost which takes away the low-end grunt that makes it so driveable.

    Toward the end of my run with the Prius I had to use premium fuel to keep it from pinging in hot weather. I'm guessing it was just crapped-up from 90,000mi of loafing along at low load and low RPM and ultimately short trips once I moved to NY. Not to mention that I hadn't bought into the "top tier fuel" thing.

    Ultimately this is a simple matter of knowing your car. That's not something that interests many people outside of the enthusiast crowd anymore.
    Jay likes this.
  9. Unleaded

    Unleaded Well-Known Member

    My 20 year old engine was designed to run on regular, but in the spring and summer months I MUST use premium otherwise my engine will ping like crazy!
  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Compression up due to carbon build up. And the carbon bits start to act like glow plugs.
    ALS likes this.
  11. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    GM required premium in the first Volt as extra insurance against the gas getting too old in the tank. The octane rating drops with time as the fuel sits. Too old premium will still be fine in a modern engine with knock sensors. Too old regular could have an octane rating too low for the ECU to adjust for though. This seems to have been a non-issue in hindsight.

    The storied on a Sonic forum was that the 1.4L turbo is a higher octane engine that GM just labels as regular for marketing in the US. So I tried a couple of tanks of higher octanes in mine. They returned better performance and fuel economy, but the break even cost per mile required a lower price difference with regular than I see normally.
  12. rfruth

    rfruth Well-Known Member

    You get what U pay for, always use premium, big oil thanks you !
  13. Interesting. Been using only top tier reg unleaded in the truck since I got it end of June. I'm noticing some random pinging on light acceleration. Also noticing that no matter where I get the gas it always shows at 10.6-11% ethanol reading from the ECM. May try a tank of premium to see if it shows a lower percent ethanol and less ping
  14. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    I will weigh in. Since the "Best Total Engine Protection You Can Get" is a Shell advert tagline, it is.

    Shell Premium V-Power NiTRO+ contains almost 7Xs the minimum detergent levels required by law - twice to 4Xs as much as "Top Tier" competitors. They also include a proprietary corrosion inhibitor and a wear modifier that no one else has.

    Although I cannot state if their will be a fuel economy improvement or not as I have been under NDA for over a year on that topic, I use it to clean everything out before a big run.

    All of that stated, the Regular Shell has approximately half of the same additive package as the V-Power NiTRO+ and does a pretty bang up job for all of the above attributes on its own. If your car is meant to run on Premium or you do experience pinging due to deposit build up, you know what to buy. If not, at least consider a better Shell gasoline to take care of the BS that cheap fuel has caused all of us over the years.


  15. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Wayne,
    You know my story with the Volvo (Premium), roughly a 10% increase in fuel mileage after two and half tanks of Shell V Power with Nitro and a bottle of Techron. It didn't increase my mileage it got the car back to its old fuel mileage rate, <27 mpg back up to >29mpg. I've had been running the cheapest weasel piss gas I could find for years and the fuel mileage had been dropping a little bit each year. I had been blaming the E10 fuel for most of the mileage drop.

    The Prius I've had on Shell 87 for three tanks and this tank I threw in a bottle of Techron and I've already started to see an increase in fuel mileage according to my Scan Gauge. I'd have to do a highway run to see how much of an increase since most of my driving is short trips. I've had to readjust the Scan Gauge % to the good side the last two times I've filled up. Those that don't have a Scan Gauge that means I'm adjusting the percentage offset down. So say I fill up with 10.5 gallons and the unit says I used 10.8, I adjust offset percentage down to match the 10.5 gallons.

    The other thing I'm doing at my next oil change in both cars is a BG EPR 109 oil treatment, which BTW is the best engine cleaner out there. Maybe I can squeeze a little more fuel mileage out of my vehicles.

    Lucky for me the Top Tier fuels Shell and Exxon around me are selling for same price as the no name fuels.

    Edit: I was so happy with the results Shell's fuel had on the Volvo I put their Station finder app on my phone. Nothing but the good stuff from now on.

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2016
    xcel likes this.

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