Everybody knows that gasoline varies in price. Some stations typically seem to be a few pennies less than others and, as a result, get more business. An often-asked question is whether some gas stations sell a better fuel than others? Is there a difference in quality among stations? It’s a fair question as a difference in price for any good, or service, you purchase usually indicates a difference in quality. But does it apply to gas? To answer this question, let us look a few of the issues involved.
They all have the same basic stuff
The fuel from various filling stations and gas companies comes from a common source: the “base gas” from a petroleum refinery. This gas meets set minimum standards and every station begins with that foundation. From there the refining facility adds various compounds as mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency in order to cut down on emissions. Finally, the different gas companies — both major and off-brands — put their own additive packages in the gas to further boost both performance and, in particular, cleaning. That’s the difference between brands.
Then the marketing people get to work
Major oil companies spend millions of dollars trying to convince buyers that their premium price formulations are better by creating TV, radio and internet ads touting its superiority. These ads featuring scientists in lab coats, smiling cartoon cars, and carbonized engine valves are designed to get the point across, but is all this just a marketing gimmick? Well, it both is and isn’t. The Federal Trade Commission has rules about what you are allowed to say. There has to be some factual basis behind the claims but, that being said, there’s going to be some hyperbole involved as well. Let’s look at an example: “with Shell’s nitrogen-enriched gas, you won’t end up with a buildup of nasty gunk in your engine”, the company’s advertising promises.
Will the higher priced gas keep my engine cleaner?
As the above example illustrates, most of the higher-priced gasolines claim to have added detergents that keep your engine cleaner than fuels that don’t have them. Most ads explain that the added few pennies for each fill-up will pay off in a major way down the road with reduced repair costs. Randy Stephens, chief engineer for Toyota, is not totally convinced by these claims of engine protection. He says Toyota fuel experts study the effects of different gas brands on Toyota engines all the time. “Honestly, in the 10 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen one come back with any sort of deposit issue,” Stephens says. That, of course, doesn’t mean gas company marketing claims are outrageous. It really means the issue is probably a smaller one than they would have you believe.
Like many Americans, you probably shop for the cheapest gasoline and wonder if that’s okay. Make sure you put the correct octane level gas in your car but as for all the added ingredients in the higher priced gas, they are not 100% necessary. On the other hand, if you feel that the additional few cents of extra detergent and other additives are worth it, then treat yourself–they certainly won’t hurt! Hopefully this article has put your mind at ease!
Article Courtesy of: Reedman Toll Fiat