Filling your tank with the wrong gas can pose serious problems to your engine.
In the US, various regulatory authorities ensure that consumers do not fill up their tanks with contaminated gas. Gas stations have moved from simply offering gas to having lavatories and small shopping facilities.
Gas is divided into tiers with the top ones having detergents and additives. This is added to the gas to boost energy efficiency. In this case, we have companies like Shell, Exxon, or Chevron. This does not mean that if you are filling your car with gas that lacks additives or detergents it will destroy the engine. The fuel remains safe; it just is not as efficient as the top tier ones.
The reason car owners will prefer to fuel in top tier fuel stations is that the fuel sold at these gas stations has been subjected to higher standards. The large gas stations have also been endorsed by large automobile car markers like Toyota, General Motors, and BMW.
Top-tier gas stations
It is not easy earning the recognition of top tier as you have to pass four fuel tests – fuel injectors, deposit control in the intake valves, combustion chambers and the fuel has to prove that it will prevent the intake valve from sticking. The extra cleaning agents present in the gas are meant to keep your cylinder heads clean and in good working condition. In worst-case scenarios, you will need to replace the cylinder head.
The other contaminant that is harmful to your engine performance is hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans. This causes costly repairs as they influence fuel gauge readings. While using top tier gasoline will prevent this from happening, a more long term solution lies in developing fuel gauge readings from improved alloys.
When the gasoline manufacturers agree to the EPA regulations for additives they are given a badge that they can display prominently on their products or promotional materials. In most instances, the amount of additives in top tier gasoline is often two or three times the recommended amount by EPA. The gasoline is costlier but it is worth the investment in the long term.
When the EPA introduced additive standards its aim was to lower the rate of emissions as opposed to the gasoline manufacturers’ intent of engine longevity. This meant that the companies had to lower the number of additives in their products to meet that of EPA.
Gasoline is refined from crude oil – a substance that contains many impurities. Due to the reactive nature of the hydrocarbon, retailers will add octane enhancers and additives to prevent carbon deposits in the engine. The Environmental Protection Agency began in the 1990s to control the use of the additives and came up with minimum standards for this. Before this, gas retailers will overuse additives. Since then the gas manufacturers reduced the application of the additives by up to 50%.
Most customers are not even aware that their vehicles contain additives but car markers have always supported the use of the additives as it leads to improved engine performance. The difference to engine performance is small. Top tier gasoline should not have any form of metallic additives.
By 2018, top tier detergent gasoline was being used in 61 licensed brands, and 5 licensed retail brands had top tier diesel fuel.
Purpose of gasoline additives and detergents
Most of the engine mechanical problems are caused by engine gunk. Engineers have not been able to pinpoint the exact gasoline molecular that causes engine buildup but they have carried out extensive research on the use of detergents. This has been shown to boost engine efficiency. The engine gunk is dangerous as it leads to reduced power and acceleration, rough idling, an increase in emissions, more motor repairs, and a car’s tendency to stop.
Fuel injectors are vital for a continuous supply of fuel to the combustion chambers. When you use gasoline that does not have detergents it leads to uneven distribution of fuel. In this instance, you have pockets of huge fuel amounts and those with less. If the fuel being supplied to the combustion chambers is depressed then you will have a misfire as the spark is dampened.
If this continues, the check engine light will come on. If the fuel injectors have been damaged due to the accumulation of carbon deposits then you will be forced to replace them. Most mechanics will solve the problem by pouring fuel injector cleaners into the fuel tank.
Recommended Top-Tier Gas brands in US
The prominent top tier gas brands in the US that you should consider include:
- Kwik Trip
You are probably wondering – how do I choose gasoline for my car? There are crucial factors that you need to consider before you fill up at a gas station. Here are a few:
Quality customer service
It is irritating going to a gas station when in a hurry only to find sloppy attendants taking their time to serve you. A gas station should be designed in such a way to serve fuel at all times whether daytime or at night and at all weather conditions. The service station should have a list of reliable trucks that supply them with gas throughout the year. It is frustrating heading to a gas station only to realize that they have run out of gas.
For a gas station to gain customers they need to offer as many amenities as possible. This will include lubricant change to well-cleaned lavatories. Top tier gas stations are those that can prove that the detergents and additives that are present in their gas do not result in residue build-up in the combustion chambers or valves.
Top tier gasoline stations are those who have adhered to the additive regulations set out by the EPA. Gasoline that has additives and detergents leads to long-lasting and efficient engines. Some of the top tier gas stations have been endorsed by reputable automakers like Toyota, GM or BMW. This gives them credibility and makes them a top choice when refilling the gas tank.