Premium spend­ing, reg­u­lar waste

Jamaica Gleaner - - AUTOMOTIVES -

DETROIT (AP): HERE IS no sense pay­ing a premium for premium gaso­line if your car is de­signed to run on reg­u­lar, ac­cord­ing to re­search by the au­to­mo­bile club AAA.

Some driv­ers oc­ca­sion­ally like to treat their cars to higher oc­tane fuel in the be­lief it boosts per­for­mance. But premium blends can cost around US 50 cents a gal­lon more than reg­u­lar.

AAA says it’s just money out the tailpipe - lots of it. In a na­tional sur­vey on gaso­line use, AAA said 16.5 mil­lion US driv­ers spent US$2.1 bil­lion they didn’t need to in the past year on premium gaso­line.

Many think premium means qual­ity. How­ever, AAA re­searchers found that while it has more oc­tane it didn’t

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in­crease horse­power or fuel econ­omy, de­crease emis­sions or clean en­gines any bet­ter than reg­u­lar gas in cars that are de­signed by the man­u­fac­turer to run on 87-oc­tane reg­u­lar.

“Driv­ers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may as­sume the fuel is bet­ter for their ve­hi­cle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Au­to­mo­tive En­gi­neer­ing.

How­ever, if your owner’s man­ual specif­i­cally says to run your car on 93 oc­tane premium or 89 oc­tane mid-grade gas, you should do it to make it per­form op­ti­mally, ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers. More lux­ury and per­for­mance brands are us­ing tur­bocharg­ing or su­per­charg­ing to get bet­ter per­for­mance out of smaller en­gines and those may re­quire premium gas, Nielsen said.

AAA re­searchers joined with the Au­to­mo­bile Club of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to test V8, V6 and four-cylin­der en­gines, com­ing up with the same re­sults each time, Nielsen said.

Seventy per cent of US driv­ers own ve­hi­cles that re­quire reg­u­lar gas, while 16 per cent are re­quired to use premium fuel. The rest, about 14 per cent, must use at least mid-grade gas or have an al­ter­na­tive fuel such as elec­tric­ity, AAA says.

TESTS AT PUMPS

Peo­ple also waste money on gaso­line in an­other key way, ac­cord­ing to AAA. Ear­lier this year, the as­so­ci­a­tion stud­ied fuel qual­ity at a num­ber of gas sta­tions to see if some were bet­ter than oth­ers.

Re­searchers found that brands that meet the in­dus­try’s ‘Top Tier’ stan­dards had bet­ter additives that pre­vented ash de­posits on valves and cleaned en­gines bet­ter than non-Top Tier brands. And the Top Tier gaso­line usu­ally costs about the same as other brands, the as­so­ci­a­tion said.

Re­searchers found that ash de­posits could cause cars to hes­i­tate, run rough and make the en­gines run less ef­fi­ciently, Nielsen said.

Gen­er­ally the ma­jor brands meet the Top Tier stan­dards, in­clud­ing BP, Exxon, Mo­bil, Amoco and Shell. But lesser­known brands also are in there, such as Hol­i­day, Costco and Kwik Star.

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