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Auto | Maintaining Your Car
What Is Top Tier Gas And Should You Use It In Your Vehicle?


When it comes to the gas we put in our vehicles, making an educated decision on the best type and brand to buy can feel confusing. A 2016 AAA study revealed a significant difference in the quality of gasoline and diesel available between various retailers in the United States. The same study also found roughly 75% of drivers chose a gas station based on proximity and that Americans are six times more likely to choose a gas station based on price alone. Quality may not even be on the radar of most drivers.

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For many drivers, when it comes to their gas, the word “quality” means regular versus premium grade. Another AAA study in 2017 found that, although there are minor improvements in fuel economy and horsepower when you purchase high-octane premium versus regular blends, the 20-25% increase in cost per gallon usually doesn’t justify the benefits. Only high-performance vehicles—with engines that are tuned to make the most of what premium blend fuels offer—will notice a difference.
Gas tank
The origins of Top Tier™ detergent gasoline can be traced back to 1995, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented minimum additive performance standards for fuel sold in the United States. These standards mandated a detergent-to-fuel ratio for gasoline manufacturers, in hopes that as the fuel burns, it helps clean deposits from inside engines, reduces emissions, and helps the environment. Engine deposits are excess carbon from unburnt fuel. Over time, these deposits can harden on delicate engine components like injector nozzles or intake valves, causing drivers to experience reduced fuel efficiency, increased harmful emissions, and expensive repairs.

Engine technology continued to advance and by the early 2000s, manufacturers were becoming frustrated seeing their engines coming back to their shops with signs of premature wear and damage caused by excess deposits from low-quality fuels. In 2004, a group of ten auto manufacturers, including BMW, GM, Toyota, Honda, and Ford, were dissatisfied enough with the minimum additive performance standards to band together and create the Top Tier detergent gasoline/diesel program.

Top Tier detergent gasoline and diesel fuels are manufactured to higher standards as specified by automakers themselves. Top Tier detergent gasoline and diesel include a higher concentration of additives and detergents that are designed to rid your engine of buildup and harmful deposits. Top Tier detergent gasoline keeps your engine in good working order. As it burns, it cleans intake valves, fuel injectors, and cylinders, allowing your car or truck to run more efficiently for longer.
Gas pump
Retailers purchase fuel as a commodity and then process it into the fuel we purchase at the pump, using their own special recipes and blends of additives. As a result of this, we see a wide variation in the quality of gas and diesel from station to station. This is why the brand and additive blend of the gasoline you purchase for your vehicle is important. Analysis from AAA shows that Top Tier detergent gasoline is better over the duration of your vehicle’s life. In fact, studies have shown that drivers can actually reverse some engine deposits, simply by switching fuel brands. When you purchase Top Tier fuel from a certified station, they have agreed to participate in the Top Tier program, only dispensing fuels that meet the detergent standards set by the automotive manufacturers themselves.
Filling tank
Stations offering Top Tier detergent gasoline must undergo continual testing and monitoring to maintain their status. Look for the Top Tier logo as you pass your regular stations.

You can also use this handy Top Tier station finder to quickly locate a participating gas station near you.

Expect to pay a bit more at the pump for Top Tier gas. If you’re the type who doesn’t miss a service interval or oil change and wants to keep your vehicle running as smoothly as possible, for as long as possible, going the extra mile to purchase Top Tier detergent gasoline will extend the life of your engine, reduce your carbon footprint, and stave off expensive engine repairs.