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Best Gasoline Station Has Best Gas?

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Old Fashioned Gas PumpIn the current world of $4 a gallon gasoline, everyone is looking for an edge. Whether it’s additives that don’t really work or little gadgets that don’t really work, we’re looking for anything that will squeeze out a couple more MPG from the car we already have.

The next logical step is to ask whether the gas at various gas station companies makes a difference. For the longest time, I believed that the gas from Exxon was better than the gas from Costco. I did empirical studies where I saved my gas pump receipts and calculated my average MPG and the Exxon gas did give me 2-3 MPG extra. However, after further research, I believe that my driving behavior and routes had a greater effect on fuel efficiency than the label on the pump.

The gas from one company is essentially identical to the gas from another.

Government law requires that all gasoline certain detergents that help prevent fuel injectors from clogging. This means that all the fancy brand name gas stations and their fancy “additives” are all required and that all gas contains them. Some say that the detergents from brand name companies go above and beyond but my perspective is that you only want the minimum standard, which is required of all gasoline. Why do you want more detergent than you really need? I don’t want more detergent in my gasoline, I want as little as possible because that gives me more gasoline! (I’m only kidding, the added volume in detergent is tiny)

Many gas brands share pipelines. According to a Smart Money article on what Gas Stations Won’t Tell You, Chevron gas stations might sell gas refined by another company like Shell or Exxon Mobil, with the difference between their gas being a quart of detergent added to an 8,000 gallon tanker truck! After a little digging, I found these maps of pipelines in the US and there aren’t that many pipelines. There are certainly as many pipelines as there are gas brands, so the fact that they mix and match isn’t that surprising.

If there was a difference, we’d know about it by now. The power of the free markets is very strong, if a particular brand of gasoline was definitely superior, we’d know. We’d know because it would be more expensive because the higher performance would justify the higher cost. Since there isn’t a brand that exists with significantly superior performance at a higher price, it’s clear that they’re all pretty much the same (and these brands have been around for decades).

If you really want to make a difference, you can save more money by buying the cheaper gas and then adding a fuel injector cleaner with every oil change. I’ve used many a fuel injector cleaners, which you can find in any auto parts store, but can’t really say I can tell. The mechanic friends of mine say that while it can’t hurt, don’t bother getting expensive cleaner, just get the cheap stuff.

Oh, another tip, don’t buy higher octane than you need, it’s a waste of money.

(Photo: ella_marie)

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9 Responses to “Best Gasoline Station Has Best Gas?”

  1. And some vehicles, you’re not supposed to use a high octane at all. If I use high octane in my bike, it’ll foos up the engine something awful (if you know what I mean).

    • james says:

      well i really didnt get an answer…

      but back in the day before the whole unleaded thing octane rates where much higher.

      so my question is on my 56 chevy where the recomended is (regular back in 1955) what kind of gas should i put in it now???

      the same or higher to compensate for the decrease in octane from the switch to unleaded fuels?

  2. Gin says:

    what about the fact that certain car manufacturers recommend gas with higher detergents than the EPA (which lowered its standards by 50%?).

  3. rick says:

    There are differences in the gas you get at the pump from one brand to another. If you don’t believe that then try this. Carefully track your mileage with several tanks of the same octane gas from the cheapest place in town to the name brand. Run a tank through. On the 2nd tank check your mileage. repeat at the next brand. I can take you out with the gas in our vehicle and let you see what kind of mileage we are getting. Then I can take you out to the local cheap station and on 1 fill up show you that I will go down about 3 to 4 miles per gallon.

    That’s because station A adds more additives that are at or close to the vehicle manufacturers recommendation and station B is adding only what is bare minimum requirements that may not meet the manufacturers specifications.

  4. Chicago says:

    Exxon has the best gas thats all i have to say..:-) Cough, cough!

  5. diann says:

    i have a question?? i have a 1997 ford escort, 4cyl.2.0 what type of gas and what grade should i use.. i live in toledo, ohio..

  6. Anonymous says:

    BP rules because they put high quality additives in their gas that helps clean your engine
    i dont wanna hear about the oil spill because I saw a commercial saying that they were still working on it and i have seen videos and diagrams of the money that is still being put into the recovery. plus oil spills just happen
    BP RULESSSS

  7. john says:

    BP rules because they put high quality additives in their gas that helps clean your engine
    i dont wanna hear about the oil spill because I saw a commercial saying that they were still working on it and i have seen videos and diagrams of the money that is still being put into the recovery. plus oil spills just happen
    BP RULESSSS

  8. Miguel says:

    This article is grossly misleading. Scientific Research shows a clear connection between higher MPG and gas with high levels of detergent. All Manufacturers know this and why they are strong proponents of increasing EPA minimum standard such as the top tier label initiative. I also can confirm that Brands such as exxon and BP do achieve higher MPG because of detergent content and what I have witnessed with my own car. In addition higher detergents result in less emissions. Please do your research before making such claims which help no one.


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