For a nominal investment motorists can already use top tier gas for their car, but is top tier gas worth it? Let’s face it — gasoline is basically a shared product that is often stored in common containers before purchased by a major retailer. What sets top tier gas and other much more pricey gas from the regular gasoline are distinctive additives added by the manufacturers, giving it a distinct brand identity. But are these additives just marketing gimmicks? Numerous auto makers say no by way of telling you in the owners' manual to use top tier fuel. But why is using top tier gas worth it?
Is Top Tier Gas Worth It: How Top Tier Gas Came About
As more automakers switched to fuel injection systems in the late 1980s, they found that fuel injectors clogged up faster than anticipated. The problem was traced back to a shortage of detergent additives in most gasolines. After some prodding from these companies, the EPA finally adopted minimum additive requirements in 1995.
The issue was that, although the EPA requirements discussed pollution issues, they failed to account for engine durability. As a result, EPA-approved gasoline continued to clog fuel injectors and contaminate combustion chambers, resulting in increased emissions and lower fuel economy, as well as costly repairs.
And then Top Tier gasoline was created in 2004 to go above and beyond the minimum requirement for detergent additives in order to help protect increasingly sophisticated engines from carbon buildup and deposits on the intake valves, which can cause a rough idle, acceleration pause, knocking/pinging, and decreased fuel efficiency.
Engines have become much more accurate over the last 20 years, running within tighter tolerances and at higher compression ratios, all while aiming for cleaner emissions and better fuel economy
To accomplish this mission, eight automakers—Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen—have banded together in favor of Top Tier fuel, advising owners to use it to maintain their engines' original output and emissions.
To keep it easy for customers, when a participating retailer sells Top Tier petrol, all octane grades of gasoline and diesel, from normal to premium, must meet the Top Tier requirements. As a result, drivers no longer need to upgrade to premium to receive the cleansing benefits offered by the pricier gas. Yup, that’s one great piece of news in the world of automobiles.
Is Top Tier Gas Worth It: Top Tier Vs. Premium Gas
Premium and Top Tier gas sound really good, but you must be asking what is really best for your vehicle — and is it worth your budget. These forms of fuel are better for your car in some ways, but for different reasons. Premium gas is a higher quality of fuel than standard gas. It's designed for high-performance cars and can cost up to 50 cents per gallon higher. Top Tier gasoline, on the other hand, contains more engine-cleaning additives than non-Top Tier gasoline. According to AAA, it costs about three cents more per gallon. So, is premium gas or is top tier gas worth it?
If you have already decided to treat your car with top tier gasoline, you might wonder why not go all the way to premium gas. For one — even the Federal Trade Commission advised to go and read the owner’s manual and unless it tells you to do so, there’s no need to spend more money on high octane gas.
So what is octane rating? The capacity of a gasoline to withstand engine knock — a rattling or pinging sound caused by premature ignition of the compressed fuel-air mixture in one or more cylinders — is measured in octane ratings. Standard (usually 87 octane), mid-grade (usually 89 octane), and premium (usually 91 octane) octane are the three octane grades available at most gas stations (usually 92 or 93). Every gas pump has a bright yellow sticker with the ratings on it.
For most cases there’s no more benefit unless of course there is knocking on your engine as higher octane will help you with that problem.
Buying higher octane fuel is a waste of money unless your car is knocking. Premium gasoline is 15 to 20 cents per gallon more expensive than standard gasoline. This can add up to $100 or more in additional costs each year. According to studies, drivers could be spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on higher octane gasoline than they need.
Purchasing “premium” gas with a higher octane rating can seem to be a treat for your car or a way to improve its efficiency. But in reality, in the vast majority of cases, using a higher octane fuel than your owner's manual recommends has little advantage. It will not improve the efficiency, speed, mileage, or eco-friendliness of your vehicle. Your best route is still going with what your owner manual is recommending.
Only if your car engine knocks when you use the prescribed fuel should you turn to a higher octane standard. But a very small number of cars experience this.
As mentioned earlier, a band of automakers has accomplished their goal for more efficient use of their vehicles by recommending top tier gas. If premium gas is not worth spending more money on, then how about the other matter — is top tier gas worth it?
Why is Top Tier Gas Worth It
According to Michael Calkins, AAA's manager of technical services, the decision is clear when it comes to premium gas. When it comes to premium, there are only two options: required or recommended. If premium gas is required by your car's owner's manual (or the inside of the gas door), you must use premium to avoid damaging your engine.
However, even if your owner's manual (or the inside of the gas door) “just recommends” premium, you can still use a lower grade of gas.
Premium gasoline can slightly boost performance (increased horsepower) and fuel economy in cars that only recommend it, according to a November 2017 AAA report. However, unless you use a stopwatch and run the quarter mile, you're unlikely to note a change in results. In the end, if your vehicle does not demand premium, don't bother. “The savings you get when you buy lower grade fuel is much greater than the cost of the reduction in fuel economy,” Calkins says.
Top Tier Gas Is Always Worth the Extra Cents Out of Your Pocket
Calkin however said that Top Tier gas is always worth the extra cents. Calkins believes that the value of Top Tier gas, which is now sold by most major oil firms, is worth the slightly higher price. AAA recommends Top Tier fuel, which extends to all grades of fuel, because it avoids carbon buildup in your engine.
Carbon buildup will cause your engine to fail prematurely. They can result in decreased fuel efficiency, stalling, engine knocking, and overheating. If your car is exhibiting these signs, you'll need to do more than just turn to a higher-quality oil and premium gasoline. The deposits would need to be removed, and your engine will need to be cleaned.
Carbon deposits appear as soot and ash on your car's engine. Engine oils designed for modern direct injection engines can help prevent these deposits from forming. Using top tier gas is an excellent way to ensure that your engine is well-protected from this build up.
To use the Top Tier name, fuel must meet a set of criteria. To boost the consistency of the bulk fuel they get from refineries, oil companies basically make their own blends of gasoline by adding detergents and additives. The additive kit in Top Tier gas is more efficient than the government's minimum standards for additives.
According to Consumer Reports, Top Tier gasoline was created to go above and beyond these minimum requirements “to help protect increasingly sophisticated engines from carbon buildup and deposits on the intake valves.”
True, there are many snake-oil items on the market that claim to protect or boost the efficiency of your engine. It might make you question — is top tier gas worth it? Well, top tier gasoline is the real deal. This has been confirmed in a series of major studies!
According to a 2016 report by the AAA, Top Tier gasoline generated 19 times fewer carbon deposits than gasoline containing only the EPA's minimum allowable detergents. Furthermore, after only 5,000 miles, using Top Tier gasoline was shown to minimize carbon build-up on intake valves by 45 to 75 percent. You should be confident that Top Tier fuel is working hard to keep your engine safe and clean.
Calkins of AAA also says that if you've been using non-Top Tier gas and have carbon deposits in your engine, switching to Top Tier gas would flush them out. You should look for Top Tier gas stores on the Top Tier program's website or look for a sign at the pump.
Then what about higher octane gas, are they worth it? Each gasoline grade has an octane rating, which indicates how much it can be compressed before igniting. It's a measurement of how well the gas can withstand engine knocking, which is the rattling sound that happens when it ignites too quickly.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, premium gas has an octane rating of 92 or 93, while mid-grade has an octane rating of 89, and standard gas has an octane rating of 87.
The best octane rating of gas for your car is determined by the engine's configuration. High-performance vehicles typically need premium because their engines have higher compression ratios, whereas other vehicles will run on lower octane gas. However, using gas with a higher octane rating than your vehicle needs, again, isn't necessarily better for your vehicle. “In most cases, using a higher octane fuel than your owner's manual recommends provides absolutely no benefit,” the FTC says.
Is Top Tier Gas Worth It: Other Benefits
Other than its ability to prevent carbon build up in engines, when asked is top tier gas worth it — there are other benefits you may also find, such as:
- Top tier gas is easy to find.
To be a Top Tier fuel distributor, companies must commit to supply Top Tier gas at all of their retail locations in the United States, and with all grades of gas they sell, from standard to premium. That means you can still expect Top Tier gasoline when you visit famous gas station chains like Shell, ARCO, Chevron, 76, Costco, Sinclair, and dozens of others. Wherever Top Tier gasoline is sold, you'll see the Top Tier logo on the pump, making it easy to find almost anywhere in the world.
Break Time, Fast Fuel, Holiday, Kwik Star, QuikTrip, Ranger Stallion, and Valero are among the lesser-known brands that meet Top Tier standards. But if you're unsure whether your favorite gas station meets Top Tier requirements, look up a list of Top Tier gasolines on the internet.
- The engine will not only run better but will also last longer.
According to AAA, engines that aren't constantly supplied with Top Tier fuel run 2 to 4% less effectively, which means you'll spend more money at the pump over time. Your engine will sputter and stall if there is too much carbon build-up.
Furthermore, modern engines with Gasoline Direct Injection would benefit even more from Top Tier gasoline! Fuel would pass over the intake valves on older engines where fuel was mixed with air before reaching the engine's cylinders, helping to keep them clean of debris.
However, in GDI engines, gas is directly applied to each cylinder, and only air passes through the intake valves, which can accumulate a lot of carbon and reduce output. However, since Top Tier gasoline forms deposits more slowly, it can help avoid carbon build-up in the first place. You can keep your engine clean and prevent a costly engine deep-cleaning by using Top Tier gasoline on a regular basis.
Know that you know these things, is top tier gas worth it? The answer is IT’S WORTH THE EXTRA CENTS. There’s no need to get more costly premium gasoline unless required — the top tier gas will be more than enough to keep your engine running clean and safe with just a few extra cents per gallon.