8 On Your Side: Premium gas a waste of money for most drivers

Gas station

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Does it pay to pay for premium gasoline? AAA says if you drive a car that calls for regular — which 70 percent of us do — you shouldn’t bother filling your tank with premium.

A recent survey found that 16.5 million people admitted to using a higher octane gasoline in a car designed for regular. In the past year, that equals $2.1 billion in wasted money.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gasoline in vehicles equipped with a V-8, V-6 or I4 engine designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. To evaluate the effects of using a higher-octane fuel when it’s not required by the manufacturer, each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer, which is essentially a treadmill for cars. The laboratory found there were no improvements in vehicles’ performance, fuel economy, or emissions with premium gas.

AAA instead recommends using gasoline that meets “Top Tier” requirements. Top Tier gasoline has detergents in it, that keep your engine cleaner.  A separate study released earlier this year by AAA shows the gunk that can build up on engine components when non Top Tier gas is used consistently.

The result: cheap gas leaves more more in your pocket in the short term, but could cost you long term.

Gasoline retailers selling the licensed brands listed below must meet the high standards of Top Tier Detergent Gasoline. All grades of gasoline sold under the licensed brands, and all retail locations carrying the brands, must meet Top Tier standards.

Here’s a list of Top Tier licensed brands.

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