Does the Gasoline You Use Matter?


Gassing up your vehicle used to be simple. But today, with gas quality being regulated and monitored, there are questions that arise regarding what type of gasoline is good (or bad) for your vehicle’s engine.

Gas is legally required to have certain levels of detergents, octane, ethanol, and other ingredients. So what is the difference between “name brand” gasoline and the gas you get a discounted stations?

Truthfully, not much. There is a good chance that the gasoline you use at discounted stations is made by the same company that provides name brand gas to specific retailers.



Using cheaper off-brand gasoline can cause expensive problems to your vehicle’s engine, including reliability.  And this may not be entirely your fault. Half of the new cars being manufactured have what is called gasoline direct injection, or GDI, which means the gasoline gets directly injected into the cylinder. It’s a new and different way of optimizing your engine using a different mix of air and fuel.  

If you have an GDI engine, gas quality immediately becomes important.  According to Rebecca Monroe, a fuel engineers at General Motors, “proper gasoline detergency is necessary for keeping engine components free of deposits.” Top-Tier gasoline contains certain additives that prevent build up and fuel deposits in the cylinders. These engines are very sensitive to the type of fuel you use.

There are generally 3 types of unleaded gasoline available at any given gas station, and the price rises with the fuel grade (octane ratings). If you drive a high-performance vehicle, you will need a higher octane fuel because the engine was designed to generate higher compression and increased power. High pressure and low octane aren’t a good match.  Your vehicle manual will determine whether your vehicle needs standard 87 gasoline or higher octane gasoline.


The American Automotive Association compared Top Tier gas to “off brand” gas to new GDI engines and the results were clear: Off-Brand gasoline caused 19 times more deposits than Top Tier brands after 40,000 miles.  Long story, short: It’s not about quality… it’s about brand. This means you can get the lowest grade gasoline, as long as it’s from an approved brand.

While the Top Tier gas might cost three-cents more, it will save you money on engine repairs down the road.

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