AAA Finds No Benefit In Splurging On Premium Gasoline

DEARBORN (WWJ) – American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel, according to new AAA research.

“Many drivers think they are giving their car a treat by occasionally filling up with premium-grade gasoline, even though their vehicle calls for regular unleaded,” AAA’s Gary Bubar said in a statement. “The consensus has been that higher octane does not mean higher quality, but AAA wanted to do a formal study to test that theory.”

Seven in ten (70 percent) of U.S. drivers currently own a vehicle that requires regular unleaded gasoline. A national survey of motorists revealed that 16.5 million U.S. drivers used premium gasoline in a vehicle designed to run on regular fuel at least once in the past year.

Testing “Regular” vs. “Premium”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gasoline in vehicles equipped with a V-8, V-6 or I4 engine designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. To evaluate the effects of using a higher-octane fuel when it’s not required by the manufacturer, each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer, which is essentially a treadmill for cars.

The laboratory checked for improvements in vehicle horsepower, fuel economy, and tailpipe emissions.


For vehicles designed to run on regular-grade fuel, using premium gasoline did not produce more horsepower, result in better fuel economy or produce fewer tailpipe emissions. 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.

“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,” Bubar said.




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