Is Cheap Gas bad for your Car?

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Over the long run, the answer to the question, "Is cheap gas bad for my car?" is a resounding, "Yes." But to fully understand what cheap gas does to your engine, we have to dig a little deeper and explain the difference between your car's octane rating as set by the manufacturer, and what constitutes "cheap gas."
 of it when Top Tier gas is just pennies more per gallon at the pump.
The Top Tier logo at gas stations means you are getting fuel that meets or exceeds the performance requirements set by vehicle manufacturers.
  • Gasoline-powered engines operate by igniting a mixture of gas and air. Spark plugs ignite the fuel mixture in each cylinder and precisely timed intervals. The air and gas mixture is compressed before each firing in the cylinder for maximum energy, and that produces a lot of heat. Your gasoline must operate under extreme temperatures and burn quickly and efficiently. 
  • The higher the octane rating of the gas you use, the more resistant it is to combusting under pressure. The octane rating set for your vehicle tells you which fuel will allow the gasoline to burn at the rate needed. If your car requires premium fuel and you put in a lower grade of gas, you may experience what is known as "engine knock" or "pinging." This happens when the lower grade gas combusts prematurely and throws off the balance of the engine timing. A lower octane will put extra stress on the engine and its components. High-performance engines require higher compression rates and operate under higher octane levels.   
  • Knocking means the gasoline is not burning cleanly and efficiently and unused gas will exit the exhaust system. This will mean you'll get poor mileage, waste precious gas, and increase pollution. Not good. If you continue to put a lower octane gas in your car than what is required by the manufacturer, you will not only cause knocking, but you can cause damage to the engine and its emissions control system. 

What happens if you put a higher grade of gasoline in your car than it requires? 
It won't hurt your engine and you might get better performance. Why is this? Because premium gasoline is not only higher in octane, but also includes a special cocktail of detergent ingredients to help keep your motor clean, reducing valve wear. 
In 2004, BMW, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota came together to set new standards for fuel, and using recommendations from the Worldwide Fuel Charter, established the standard known as Top Tier Detergent Gasoline. Gasoline brands get a Top Tier license when they meet certain standards including performance tests for valve and combustion chamber deposits, fuel injector fouling, and intake valve sticking. 

If you use a Top Tier gasoline offered at such national service station chains as Chevron, Shell, Texaco or Exxon/Mobile, you will pay more at the pump than using "no name" brand gasoline, but you are also assured that the fuel will include additives to reduce emissions and that will help keep your engine clean. There are also lower metal compounds in Top Tier gas. However, if you are driving across the country and your only option is to stop at a station featuring a brand of gas you've never heard of, it won't hurt your car to fill up on cheap non-Top Tier gas. 

 Thanks to advances in engine technology, today's cars utilize onboard computers that adjust for variations in fuel so occasionally using cheap gas won't damage your engine. The difference between off-brand and Top Tier gas comes down to the degree of additives that afford more protection for your engine. Top Tier fuel provides more additives than are required by the EPA, that's why they cost more. You get what you pay for. 

What is Techron?

All of the major oil companies spend many millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to convince consumers that they have "secret ingredients" or a "specual formula" that makes their gas best for your car. They tell you that these amazing additives will keep your car engine free of "gunk." What they are talking about is that gasoline with insufficient additives can clog your fuel injectors and cause build-up of residue inside the engine and fuel pump, aka "gunk." Gasoline cleaning agents such as Chevron's "Techron" was developed to reduce the build-up of such impurities. 

 This patented fuel additive contains polyether amine-based detergent that dissolves deposits in engines and helps to keep them from building up. Techron is also available as a concentrate to add to your fuel. However today, all Top Tier gasoline brands include detergent additives that help keep engines free of "gunk." 

How Fuel Injection figures in

That's important as all vehicles today utilize fuel injection to get the proper mix of gas and air to the cylinders. Fuel injection gives your vehicle up to 15 percent better fuel economy, up to 50 percent more low-end torque and up to 50 percent lower emissions than carbureted counterparts. But proper fuel injection requires fuels that contain detergents to keep them free of deposits. Using non-brand fuel in fuel injected engines will eventually lead to trouble. 

All of the major brand Top Tier fuels include their own special formula of additive ingredients as engine detergents. These plyether-amine and polyether-mannichs detergents clean intake valves and combustion chambers while PIB-succinimides makes sure your fuel injectors stay clean. 
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has conducted independent laboratory tests comparing Top Tier gasoline to cheap, non-brand gas. The group researchers found significant differences in the quality of gasoline sold across the country. They discovered that non-Top Tier gasoline caused 19 times more engine deposits than Top Tier brands after just 4,000 miles of use. Remember, we are talking about the quality of the additives in gasoline here, not the octane rating. So, as long as you are buying a gasoline with the proper octane rating for your car, you can shop around for the cheapest Top Tier brand in your area, and all will be well for many trouble-free miles of driving. 

In fact, even in these times of high gas prices, the difference between a Top Tier brand of gas and the cheapest non-brand fuel is only about three cents per gallon. The bottom line is that Top Tier gas is definitely worth the extra pennies. Especially when you realize that the cost of replacing fuel injectors will run you around $850 and the average engine valve job is over $1,500.

Top Tier Gas Brands 
Here are all the gasoline station brands that currently use Top Tier gasoline in America today: 
  • 76 
  • ARCO 
  • Aloha 
  • Beacon 
  • Break Time 
  • Breakaway 
  • CITGO 
  • Cenex 
  • Chevron 
  • Conoco 
  • Costco Wholesale 
  • CountryMark 
  • CountryMark PLUS 
  • Diamond Shamrock 
  • Express Mart 
  • Exxon 
  • Fast Fuel 
  • GetGo 
  • HFN - Hawaii Fueling Network 
  • Harmons Fuel Stop 
  • Hele 
  • Holiday 
  • Kirkland Signature Gasoline 
  • Kwik Star 
  • Kwik Trip 
  • MFA Oil
  • Marathon 
  • Meijer 
  • Meijer Express 
  • Metro Petro 
  • Mobil 
  • Ohana Fuels 
  • Phillips 66 
  • QT 
  • QuikTrip 
  • Ranger 
  • Ranger Fuel 
  • Ranger Mustang 
  • Ranger Stallion 
  • Ranger Thoroughbred 
  • Reeder's 
  • Road Ranger 
  • Rutter's 
  • Shamrock 
  • Shell 
  • Simonson Station Stores 
  • Sinclair 
  • Sunoco 
  • Texaco 
  • Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery 
  • Valero 
  • Value America 
  • WOW 
  • Win Win 
Fill 'er Up!
Americans use over 360 million gallons of gasoline each and every day. When it comes to the proper octane for your car, even small, independent gas stations that offer cheaper fuel post octane levels for their gasoline. The difference between bargain gas and Top Tier are in the detergent ingredients. An occasional fill up with cheap gas won't hurt your car, truck, or SUV, but we suggest you not make a habit of it when Top Tier gas is just pennies more per gallon at the pump.
The Top Tier logo at gas stations means you are getting fuel that meets or exceeds the performance requirements set by vehicle manufacturers.