Last week's widely covered news from AAA told drivers that, unless your engine design requires it, premium gas is an unnecessary expense that does not improve performance.
But it was AAA's earlier study, released this past July, that intrigued me more. Those tests confirmed "significant differences" in fuel quality offered to U.S. drivers.
Gasoline that lacks detergent additives left 19 times more carbon deposits in engines than do Top Tier fuels, the independent study said.
AAA also said that Top Tier gas costs an average of 3 cents per gallon more than non-detergent gas, and 75% of drivers buy their gas based on price or convenience.
One of my friends has long insisted that ARCO sells "watered down gas." He believes that's why ARCO usually costs less, and he won't fill up there.
But looking at the current list of licensed Top Tier gasoline brands, I see that ARCO is indeed among those that Northwest drivers might expect to find on the list – 76, Chevron, Conoco, Exxon, Shell, Texaco, and others.
What surprised me a little is that Costco's gasoline is Top Tier. Surprising because Safeway, another discounted brand, is not on that list. Nor could I find definitive evidence anywhere to the contrary.
That concerns me a little because I often buy Safeway gas. Not only is it discounted for Safeway shoppers, its stations are conveniently located near my usual routes.
Convenient or not, our January 2016 PEMCO Poll found that 46% of Northwest drivers are willing to travel up to five minutes out of their way to buy less-costly gas.