Does it Matter Which Gas You Use?

The choices are many: Chevron, Mobil, 76 Unocal, Texaco, Arco, etc. And with each brand you seem to be getting a unique product, like Chevron’s Techron or Shell’s V-Power. So naturally, one would ask, does it matter which gas you use?

Apparently it does. Starting last year, the top four manufacturers established their own standard of gasoline called Top Tier. Unsatisfied, among many things, with the minimal detergent levels in gasoline required by the government, BMW, Toyota, Honda, and GM specified what they think is a satisfactory standard in controlling deposits and increasing engine longevity. Details of this standard can be found at http://www.toptiergas.com.

According to toptiergas.com, “many gasoline retailers provide fuels with lower-quality additive packages that can build up deposits on fuel injectors and on intake valves. Others can build up deposits in combustion chambers and may lead to intake valve sticking. These lower levels of additives can have negative impacts on engine performance and vehicle responsiveness.”

Pete Misangyi, Fuels and Lubricants Engineering Supervisor for Ford Motor Company, also emphasizes the fuel factor when it comes to engine deposits. He says that “if customers need an additive due to engine deposits, or bring the vehicle in for service due to a performance deficiency, they should probably switch the brand of gasoline they’re using.” Engine deposits have spawned the proliferation of products dedicated to cleaning engine parts, like fuel injectors or valves. But most manufacturers don’t recommend any oil or fuel additives.

Left out of the Top Tier alliance, Ford has taken the unprecedented step of recommending a specific gasoline brand. Starting with 2006 models, Ford vehicles have “Ford Recommends BP” printed on its gas cap, which apparently includes BP’s Amoco brand. It is not clear if this endorsement includes the SOHIO and Arco brands, also acquired by BP. In its press release related to Ford’s endorsement, BP stated that it “backs up the quality of all its fuels with a written guarantee, and is the only major integrated oil company to do so.” None of the BP brands are listed as Top Tier.

Top Tier is a voluntary standard and not every brand meets its requirements. As of today, the following brands are qualified to be rated Top Tier (regardless of octane rating):

* QuikTrip
* Chevron
* Conoco
* Phillips
* 76
* Shell
* Entec Stations
* MFA Oil Company
* Kwik Trip/Kwik Star
* The Somerset Refinery, Inc.
* Chevron-Canada
* Aloha Petroleum
* Tri-Par Oil Company
* Shell-Canada

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