There’s no difference in gasoline itself but brands do mix in different additives

No, there’s no difference in gasoline itself but brands mix in different additives, which some studies have shown may impact the quality or wear and tear on your engine over time.

Gas is a shared commodity, says Gas Buddy petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan, with a handful of refineries storing it in common containers before it’s ultimately shipped off to a station near you. That’s where different retailers then mix in different additives.

Those additives—which can include detergents, friction reducers, corrosion inhibitors—are then marketed under names like ‘Techron’ at Chevron stations, ‘Invigorate’ at BP-branded stations, ‘V-Power’ at Shell stations, among others.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates fuel quality and has mandated a minimum level of additive detergent for all gasoline sold in the United States since the mid-1990s.

The EPA and state set minimum standards for fuel and additives but many companies exceed minimum requirements.

“Just like, for example, you’re making a recipe, all the flour is the same—you can put different things in your recipe to change it,” De Haan said. “But at the base all gasoline is essentially the same.”

Gas with additives beyond minimum standards has been found to lead to less carbon buildup on intake valves, according to this AAA report. The report compared so-called ‘Top Tier’ gas from brands putting in more additives than federally required, to gas that simply meets minimum standards.

But the report also notes you shouldn’t panic if you’ve never sought out this ‘Top Tier’ gas because, chances are, you’re using it and don’t even know it.

Most major brands – like BP, Chevron, Costco, Exxon, Marathon – manufacture their gas with additives that meet the ‘Top Tier’ designation requirements.

Ned Bowman, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Marketer’s Association, which represents 97 percent of fuel sold in the state, says additives are what set the brands apart.

“Each one of them has a unique blend or ingredient that goes into their gasoline,” he said. “Otherwise it’d be the same gasoline.”

The Florida Petroleum Marketer’s Association also works closely with state regulators, Bowman said. Despite branded additives, consumers should feel confident all gas sold in Florida is meeting minimum standards.

“We have the (Florida) Department of Agriculture which tests all of the fuel at the terminal that comes in,” Bowman said. “The minimum quality is always there, so the consumer knows that they’re not getting half mixed with water or sediment.”

But if you do think you’ve filled up with bad gas, you can file a complaint with the state’s agriculture department—the number is listed on stickers on gas pumps.


Tags: BP, Brands, Chevron, EPA, fuel Additives, Gasoline
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