A new American Automobile Association (AAA) study confirms significant differences in the quality of gasoline sold by various retailers in the U.S. In testing by an independent laboratory, gasolines blended with detergent levels that conform to the automaker-backed TOP TIER specifications prove to be 19 times better at preventing carbon deposits on the intake valves than other non-TOP TIER brands that meet the minimal detergent level mandated by the EPA in 1996. The excessive carbon deposits were generated in just 4,000 miles of simulated driving. Fuels evaluated were selected from a southern Texas market representing the type of gas sold across most of the U.S.

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“AAA was surprised to learn the extent to which detergent additives impact gasoline quality,” noted John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair in commenting on the results. Nielsen went on to state that the TOP TIER fuels evaluated kept engines notably cleaner, adding: “By selecting a quality gasoline, drivers can minimize engine deposits, increase vehicle performance and improve fuel economy.” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering, echoed those sentiments, pointing out that merely switching over to a TOP TIER brand will frequently remove the deposit buildup after a few thousand miles, eliminating rough idling and balky acceleration – not to mention helping boost mileage figures by 2-4 percent.

Consumers still buy gas on price and convenience

In conjunction with its empirical testing, the AAA also conducted a national telephone survey on consumer attitudes and behavior. It also generated some surprising findings, not the least of which was that despite 63 percent of the U.S. drivers it contacted believe there is a difference in gasoline quality, 75 percent choose a station based on location and 73 percent use price as their primary reason for purchase. A total of 29 percent make their decisions based on an outlet’s rewards program. The AAA found just 12 percent actually selected a station or brand based on whether its gasoline contained an enhanced detergent package and less than half (47 percent) regularly fill their vehicles with a TOP TIER fuel. As for demographic breakouts, 44 percent of all male survey respondents and 26 percent of all women said they regularly buy gasoline with an enhanced detergent package while 41 percent of baby boomers and 32 percent of millennials also made it a practice to purchase what they felt to be a superior fuel.

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Acknowledging Americans are six times more likely to buy gas based on price rather than quality, Nielsen still hopes the latest data will help change some minds. “Since TOP TIER gasoline is widely available and averages only three cents more per gallon, AAA urges drivers to reconsider their priorities when selecting a gas station.”


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