If you use premium gasoline for your car, you may want to rethink that. Unless your car manufacturer specifically designates the use of premium fuel, you are wasting your money, according to new fuel performance research by AAA. How much money? A whopping $2.1 billion in the aggregate. Yikes. Here’s a summary of what they learned:
“According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.”
Why do drivers pick premium fuel when they don’t need it? It essentially comes down to the power of advertising and language: “Premium” sounds better to many people – and it sounds like it would be beneficial to your car. But the research shows that, ““Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”
AAA says that if you want to upgrade to better fuel, drivers should choose TOP TIER gas rather than a higher octane. Here’s a AAA Premium Fuel Fact Sheet that explains the research and offers more recommendations.
Gas prices are soaring again in what has become almost an annual spring ritual, although it’s starting earlier this year. Just ten months ago, we did a post on what you can do about rising gas prices – and the information in there is worth another look. This year, though, spurred by rumors of more conflict in the Middle East, gas prices look set to rise more than they have in several years, possibly even above the record high of $4.11 reported on July 17, 2008. What else is different this year? Well, you can now download a variety of apps for your smartphone to help you find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood. Gasbuddy.com in particular is a useful site either online at home or on the go with a free app. The data is submitted by local users so keep an eye on the date of submission to make sure you’re getting the most recent info.
Why do gas prices fluctuate so much? This overview explains How Gas Prices Work. Essentially, it’s a complicated interlocking chains of supply, demand and crude oil prices. Any slight hitch in this chain can cause our prices at the pump to jump or fall in a crazy pattern that seems to make no sense. One thing does seem certain, though and that’s that we’ll continue seeing higher prices at the pump for the foreseeable future.
What can you do to lessen the impact of gas prices on your life? Experts say that the easiest first step is making sure your tires are properly inflated. Over and under inflated tires waste gas, as do dirty air filters, so consider replacing yours more frequently. Yahoo news reports that gas prices are higher on the weekends, so try to buy gas in the middle of the week. And stay away from highway gas stations! Buy your gas in smaller neighborhoods, where prices are likely to be lower.