Buying premium gas makes you feel like you're feeding your car kale instead of hamburgers. Take care of it, and it'll take care of you. But for many Americans, buying that kale's just a big waste of money -- because despite what you think, your car's designed to run on hamburgers.
A recent study conducted by AAA found that American drivers are unnecessarily spending upwards of $2 billion annually on premium gas, as the majority of Americans who use premium, 93-octane fuel drive cars that don’t even require it. According to AAA, 16.5 million drivers have bought premium gas in the last year, but just 16% of them drive cars that actually need it.
Seventy percent of motorists have cars that require regular, 87-octane fuel -- so if you’re in this camp, and still use premium, you’re contributing funds to a $2 billion void, and your car isn’t even benefitting.
Notably, AAA says that while “premium” sounds nice, the gas isn’t higher quality, it’s higher octane. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, said in a statement.
AAA found that when premium grade fuel was pumped into different cars that require regular gas, no improvement was found in terms of performance. The vehicles, all of which had engines varying between 4, 6, and 8-cylinders, were tested on a dynamometer, “which is essentially a treadmill for cars that is designed to measure horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions when using both fuel types,” according to AAA.
Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, said: “AAA’s tests reveal that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that requires regular fuel...Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”
If this is disheartening news, don’t despair, but do stop shelling out unnecessary cash. AAA recommends sticking to TOP TIER fuel -- which is endorsed by many global automakers as the global standard. In the meantime, avoid cheap, off-brand gasoline and give your car the fuel it mostly likely deserves, which is far cheaper, anyway.