Filling your tank with the wrong gas can cause serious problems for your engine.
In the USA, various regulatory agencies ensure that consumers do not fill their tanks with contaminated gas. Filling stations have evolved from purely offering gas to providing toilets and small shopping facilities.
Gas is divided into tiers, with the top ones containing detergents and additives. These are added to the gas to increase energy efficiency. In this case, we have companies like Shell, Exxon, or Chevron. This does not mean that if you fill your car with gas without additives or detergents, it will destroy the engine. The fuel remains safe, it’s just not as efficient as the top-of-the-range fuel.
The reason why car owners will prefer to fill up at top class petrol stations is that the fuel sold at these stations has been subjected to higher standards. The large filling stations have also been supported by major car brands such as Toyota, General Motors and BMW.
Top-tier gas stations
It’s not easy to earn top tier recognition because 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 prevents the intake valve from sticking. The additional cleaning agents contained in the gas should keep your cylinder heads clean and in good working condition. In the worst cases, you may need to replace the cylinder head.
The other contaminants that can damage your engine performance are hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans. These lead to costly repairs as they affect the fuel gauge readings. While the use of premium-grade gasoline prevents this, a longer-term solution is to develop fuel gauges made from improved alloys.
If the gasoline manufacturers agree to the EPA regulations for additives, they receive a sticker that they can prominently display on their products or promotional materials. In most cases, the amount of additives in premium-grade gasoline is often two or three times the amount recommended by the EPA. The gasoline is more expensive, but the investment pays off in the long run.
When the EPA introduced additive standards, their goal was to reduce the emission rate, in contrast to the intention of gasoline manufacturers to increase the longevity of engines. This meant that companies had to reduce the number of additives in their products to meet the EPA standards.
Gasoline is refined from crude oil, a substance that contains many impurities. Because of the reactive nature of hydrocarbons, retailers will add octane enhancers and additives to prevent carbon deposits in the engine. The Environmental Protection Agency began controlling the use of the additives in the 1990s and set minimum standards for them. Before that, gas dealers used the additives excessively. Since then, gas producers have reduced the use of additives by up to 50%.
Most customers are not even aware that their vehicles contain additives, but vehicle markings have always supported the use of the additives as it leads to improved engine performance. The difference in engine performance is small. Top-of-the-range gasoline should not contain any form of metallic additives.
By 2018, premium-grade gasoline was used in 61 licensed brands, and 5 licensed retail brands had premium-grade diesel fuel.
Purpose of gasoline additives and detergents
Most mechanical engine problems are caused by engine dirt. Engineers have not been able to determine the exact gasoline molecule that causes engine deposits, but they have done extensive research on the use of cleaning agents. It has been shown that this increases engine efficiency. Engine debris is dangerous because it leads to reduced power and acceleration, rough idling, increased emissions, more engine repairs, and the tendency of a car to stop.
Fuel injectors are essential for a continuous supply of fuel to the combustion chambers. If you use petrol that does not contain detergents, this will result in uneven distribution of the fuel. In this case, you have pockets with huge amounts of fuel and pockets with less. If the fuel supplied to the combustion chambers is under pressure, it will misfire because the spark is dampened.
If this continues, the check engine light will illuminate. If the fuel injectors have been damaged by the accumulation of carbon deposits, you will be forced to replace them. Most mechanics will solve the problem by adding fuel injector cleaner to 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 fuel for my car? There are crucial factors you need to consider before filling up at a gas station. Here are some of them:
Quality customer service
It’s annoying to go to a gas station when you’re in a hurry just to find sloppy personnel who take their time to serve you. A gas station should be designed to provide fuel at any time of day or night and in all weather conditions. The gas station should have a list of reliable trucks that supply it with gas all year round. It is frustrating to drive to a gas station only to find that they have run out of gas.
For a gas station to attract customers, it must offer as many amenities as possible. This includes lubricant changing and well-cleaned toilets. Top-tier service stations are those that can prove that the detergents and additives contained in their gas do not lead to residues in the combustion chambers or valves.
Top-level service stations are those which have complied with the rules on additives laid down by the EPA. Petrol containing additives and detergents leads to durable and efficient engines. Some of the top tier filling stations have been supported by well-known car manufacturers such as Toyota, GM, or BMW. This gives them credibility and makes them the first choice for refueling.
Hi, I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of Mechanic Base. I have been working with cars for 10 years, specialized in diagnostics and troubleshooting. I created this blog because I was tired of finding false information on the web while looking for repair information. I hope you enjoy my content!