Gasoline from the refinery is virtually identical. In the mid-90s, EPA required refiners to add a minimum level of detergents for environmental and engine performance purposes. In 2005, several manufacturers advocated for even cleaner fuel, now known as “top tier.” Brands selling this higher quality typically display a top-tier sticker on each pump.

Research indicates that motors run exclusively on top tier are 19 times cleaner, generate fewer pollutants, and more importantly, given the same maintenance, provide better fuel economy and last longer. And here, I want to emphasize that not all of the most popular stations advertise that they sell top-tier gas. This does not necessarily mean that their fuel lacks additional detergents, but they have not submitted it for testing to be advertised as top-tier quality. Of course, there is an annual license fee based on the number of service stations owned by the fuel retailer.

AAA advocates top-tier fuel even if it costs more but as we all know, price is not necessarily an indicator of quality. My experience, as well as others, indicates that top-tier fuel can often be bought for less than non-rated gas. Ultimately, even if you’re not engaged in a love affair with your car, you might be vigilant about gas merely due to longer-term sympathy for your wallet. Brands selling top-tier fuel are listed on the internet.

Mel Mench,


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