How to Buy Gasoline
“All gasolines are the same!”
“My car has more power with brand X!”
“I get better gas mileage with brand Y!”
So, which statement is true? They all are!
THE BASE STOCK
Oil companies are all required by the EPA to refine their base fuel to a specific set of standards, then add one specific deposit reducing additive. At that point, other than by minor inconsequential differences, all gas blends are pretty much the same. Then, just prior to distribution by an oil company, things start to change dramatically.
First, it gets sold to different oil companies. “Huh?” you say? It’s true! Oil companies simply can’t afford to have a refinery and distribution center in every little corner of the country. They also can’t afford to truck every load thousands of miles to every gas station they brand. So, they all buy their fuel from whatever local oil company distributor has they price they want. They then take the fuel, add their own additive packages, and send it on to the gas stations as their own trademarked blend of fuel.
So then you ask, why the big price differences? Part of it is trademarking to be sure, but the biggest difference’s are the quality of the additives, the percentage of fuel verses oxygenates (meaning alcohol dilutions), and sometimes the age of the fuel.
As was mentioned before, the EPA has minimum requirements for fuel additives. In recent years, they have been rolling back the levels of those standards and only a handful of the major brands have agreed to not follow the downward trend, instead complying with a mutually agreed higher standard called TOP TIER. Many auto manufacturers now REQUIRE the use of these Top Tier fuels to maintain your warranty! In the last several years as I monitored the gas companies who comply with the better standards, the number has tripled! They are apparently listening and agreeing with the consumers and manufacturers requests for higher quality, thankfully. If you’d like to learn more you can read all about it here at toptiergas.com
I’m sure you’ve heard of bars and restaurants that water down their alcohol to increase their drink profits. The same can be done with your fuel, only instead of using water, they “alcohol down” your fuel with ethanol blends! Ethanol is actually required by the EPA in small amounts (10 %) and is called an Oxygenate. They do this to add oxygen to the burn with allows for more complete combustion of the fuel. However, since alcohol has only approximately 50% of the available energy of gasoline by volume, there is a loss of overall energy per gallon- or per dollar!
Several times I have personally measured alcohol contents in fuel as high as 18%! This was a result of my trying to diagnose the source of drive-ability complaints of my customers. Their concerns? A lack of power, poor idle, bad mileage. So I ask “Where did you buy your last tank of gas?” Invariably it has been from either one of the small independent gas stations, or most often from the giant nationwide discount chain we all immediately know the name of. (I’m not going to name them of course, their lawyers are much more powerful than mine).
So, lets do a quick calculation-
18% alcohol at 50% of the energy, that’s a 9% loss of the stuff that gets your car down the road.
At $4.00 per gallon, you just lost 9%, or 36 cents per gallon! And, you car is now running poorly, you’ve lost mileage, and you’ve ;lost power.
Add to that, these discount chains are not on the Top Tier list so their additive packages are severely lacking, if you keep it up the inside of your motor is really going to be compromised.
No wonder their fuels are so much cheaper! No wonder their profits are also so high!
Gas begins deteriorating significantly pretty rapidly. After one year, it really shouldn’t be used in a modern engine. So occasionally, when a small distribution center has held fuel in their tanks a bit too long and it is deteriorating, how to get rid of it? Well, you drop the price and sell to the retailer who doesn’t care about quality. Jeff Bob’s Discount Bait Shop and Gas Station is just the answer! Beware…
SO WHO’S ARE THE GOOD FUELS?
Toptiergas.com currently lists the following as your best local choices, everyone else we recommend avoiding. Yes, they are more expensive, but remember the calculations above, you could be losing far more than 40 cents per gallon using a discount fuel!