For most people, fueling up their car is just something they don't really think about and is just drains money from their bank accounts. However, the fuel you buy is an investment. Get bad fuel, and it will cost you later on in car maintenance and repairs. Good fuel can not only help your fuel economy but keep your car running properly for years.
AAA finds that many consumers make mistakes in buying the right fuel:
In a recent study by AAA, it was found that nearly 73% of consumers bought fuel based on what was the cheapest and nearly a half of Americans buy fuel that isn't of good quality. That's scary. The fuel you put in your car is not a standardized good. Different brands and types of fuel can all be very different from each other in terms of quality. So what can you, dear reader, do to make sure you're street smart when it comes to filling up at the tank?
Only buy fuel from TOP TIER Authorized dealers; basically get your fuel from big brands.
Do not buy your fuel from a local, small "Mom & Pop" type store. This is like getting a burger from a restaurant with a "D" sanitation score. You wouldn't get a burger from a dirty diner, so why would you fill your car up with dirty fuel?
In the United States, since 1966, the EPA has required fuel suppliers put a minimum amount of detergents in their fuel. These detergents help clean up impurities in the fuel and clean/protect the car's fuel system and engine from gunk that can negatively impact performance. However, these minimum requirements aren't enough to really make sure everything is running perfectly. Some fuels have extra detergents and greater amounts of them. That's why you only buy fuel from brands that meet TOP TIER's stringent standards for fuel quality. Most of these are big fuel brands, such as:
Shell, BP, 76, Chevron, Costco, QuikTrip, Exxon, CITGO, Mobil, and Texaco. These big name fuel brands have the money and R&D to ensure their fuel quality is not only high, but standardized as well. Shell gasoline that you buy in Florida is exactly the same as Shell gasoline you buy in Arizona.
Buying crap fuel will cause harm to your engine and cost you in the long run. See the picture above? That's not some marketing scheme. Sometimes cheap isn't the best option. The cleaner fuels can help make sure your engine is running proper and help fix issues like rough idle, lack of power, and poor fuel economy.
Make sure you're putting the right Octane rating for fuel in your car.
Most modern cars have sensors that can determine what octane rating you have put in your car and adjust accordingly, but it is critical you put in the correct Octane rating in your car. In Europe, these octane ratings are measured differently than in the US, and thus for the same fuel octane rating the European number will be higher. Here in the US however, fuel octane rating is known as:
87: Regular, 89/91: Plus, 93: Premium*
Now let me be clear, Octane rating is NOT a rating of how quality the fuel is, but rather how much Octane is contained in the fuel. However, in general Premium fuel will be guaranteed to have those detergents I mention above.
Higher performance engines ignite the air/fuel ratio closer to TDC for the piston. In English this means the engine will wait later to create a spark that sets off the mini-explosions in your car's engine. Now, due to the extreme heat and pressures the air/fuel mixture may pre-detonate, causing something known as "Knock". Knock is very bad. So for cars that have higher performance engines (create more heat/pressure), the fuel needs to have a higher resistance to heat/pressure, and this resistance is created by adding Octane to the fuel. If you drive a luxury, sports, or turbocharged car, you need to put higher octane fuel in your tank. If you don't, there's no real benefit to putting higher octane fuels in your car, you're just throwing money down the drain. However, if you do have an engine that uses a higher octane fuel, you will have greater fuel economy since your engine can more efficiently use that fuel in combustion. I could go more in depth but I don't want to nerd out on everyone.
Check your owner's manual. It will tell you what rating of fuel to put in your tank. Most normal cars take regular fuels, while luxury, sport, and turbocharged cars need at least plus/mid-grade (91) gasoline to function. Sometimes they can only run on premium (93), no exceptions. Make sure your are filling up with the recommended octane rating.
*If you happen to live in the un-great state of California, you don't get 93 Octane rating fuel. 91 is your "premium" fuel because your state is run by hippies.
Anyways, this wasn't meant to be exceptionally long. Thank you for reading and make sure you treat your car right!