Which Gas Stations Sell the Best Quality Gasoline?

Which Gas Stations Sell the Best Quality Gasoline?

Oil companies and gas-station chains love to boast about their fuels, how they burn the cleanest or deliver the most miles per gallon. But can these claims ever be validated? How is the average consumer supposed to figure out what’s best for their vehicle? At least one kind of fuel cuts through the marketing malarkey. Top Tier gasoline is engineered to a higher standard.

Top-Tier Gasoline.jpgAnd it’s endorsed by several global automakers including General Motors, Toyota and BMW. Additionally, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell are a few of the oil companies involved. More retailers are listed in the graphic to the bottom left.

To earn Top Tier certification a fuel must pass four tests – deposit control on intake valves, fuel injectors and combustion chambers. Beyond that it must also prevent intake-valve sticking. Basically it’s gas with extra cleaning agents designed to keep engines running their best. Think of it as a housekeeper for your cylinder heads.

Gasoline is an impure substance refined from a very impure base stock – crude oil. It’s an explosive hydrocarbon cocktail containing all kinds of different chemicals. In addition to its own molecular variability, refiners and retailers incorporate additional substances into the mix, from ethanol alcohol to octane enhancers. Still, gasoline contains even more additives, some of which are designed to prevent harmful deposits from forming inside engines.

Oil Companies.jpgTop Tier fuels feature more of these additives than regular gas. In 1995 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a minimum standard for gasoline additives. Since then, refiners and fuel blenders have actually reduced the amount of detergent they put in fuel by about 50 percent. In the long run this cutback has impacted the ability of vehicles to meet emission standards.

According to Bill Studzinski, Fuels Technical Specialist at General Motors, a number of OEMs saw this problem and got together to push for higher levels of detergency. He said Top Tier gasoline is a better fuel for engines, and that it takes the mystery out of what a good fuel is and what an average fuel is.

Chris Martin, a spokesman for Honda said “we’ve supported it [Top Tier gasoline] because we’ve seen a benefit from it for our consumers in the long run.” He also said the average driver doesn’t know about detergent additives, they just look for the cheapest gas available but “Top Tier fuel goes a step beyond that.”

“We don’t require that our vehicle owners use Top Tier gas” Martin said, but it helps “make sure the engines are going to last as long as they could.” This is obviously beneficial, especially since Honda drivers historically keep their cars for a long time.

Responding to questions via e-mail, Marie Valentine, the Senior Principle Engineer, Vehicle Regulation and Certification Engineering, Toyota Technical Center, said the amount of detergents in Top Tier gas is about twice what’s required by the EPA. However, it can vary depending “on the base gasoline and the chemistry of the detergent additive.”

When asked about the price of Top Tier Valentine wrote, “Toyota does not comment on the true cost. However, generally there is no change between TTDG [Top Tier Detergent Gasoline] and normal LAC [Lowest Additive Concentration] gasoline,” good news for consumers wanting to keep their vehicles for many years.

Top Tier is all about keeping engines clean. As far as fuel economy is concerned, it should perform identically to gasoline with lower levels of detergent, so don’t expect a big efficiency boost.

From a big-oil perspective Top Tier hasn’t necessarily caught on. Some of the largest players in the industry have adopted it including Shell, Chevron and Conoco, but not all.

ExxonMobile, the world’s largest oil refiner, is one of the companies onboard with Top Tier. All of their retail gasoline sold in the United States meets the standard, having received formal certification back in 2010.

Top Tier gasoline must contain more deposit-fighting detergents, it also must be sold at all of a fuel marketer’s stations and across all grades of its gasoline, from 87-octane regular to top-of-the-line premium. Additionally, to earn the seal of approval fuels cannot contain metallic additives, which are potentially harmful to automotive emissions-control systems.

Simply put, Studzinski said Top Tier gasoline is “a higher level of detergency, which keeps your engine running optimally.”

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  • Wil

    This article fails to mention which Tier these companies adhere too.
    Are they speaking of Tier 1 or 2 gasolines ? I don’t think Tier 3 is in production yet

  • ThomasXxs

    There is no such thing as Tier1, Tier2 for gasoline. It’s either Top Tier or it’s not. It’s only been around for maybe 10 years or so. Apparently the standards for detergent levels in gasoline were lowered by the federal government around 2003, and Top Tier was the response of several major car manufacturers.

  • r demerse

    Does ultra mar gas contain ttdg

  • GD

    All I know is I drove from Dallas to Shreveport on Racetrac gas and used 3 quarters of a tank… I filled up at Valero on the way back and only used 1 quarter of gas… I don’t know how it happened that way lol that’s why I’m here… I do know, Valero my best friend now. We buddies!!!

  • CES

    Most likely environmental factors such as wind, barometric pressure, temperature, and maybe gradual geographical elevation change.

  • Cliff Shaw

    Maybe you got a hold or real gas . non-ethanol fuel….my mileage is ALWAYS better when I’m not running with fuel that has ethanol in it.

  • ThomasXxs

    While it’s true that unleaded gasoline contains more energy by volume than ethanol (resulting in somewhat better mileage) the ethanol does tend to improve the octane value, thereby making the ethanol blend less prone to pre-detonation or pinging (in the same way as Premium gasoline does). If you are suffering from excessive pinging with the non-ethanol gas then potentially expensive damage to your engine could easily outweigh any savings from slightly better mileage. Plus, in my area the ethanol-free gas (from Wal-Mart and Quik-Trip) is much more expensive than the regular unleaded gasoline.

  • Cliff Shaw

    87 octane is 87 octane regardless if it’s in ethanol or non-ethanol fuel. The only reason one would need a higher octane fuel is if the owners manual states that their vehicle requires higher octane fuel do to higher compression designed motors. An 87 octane non ethanol fuel will ping just as must as an ethanol laced fuel if used in a higher than “normal” compression motor.

    Overall…..the few cents one pays for non ethanol fuel is worth the extra $$ as you’ll get better gas mileage and more performance from your vehicle.

    Ethanol based fuel is a HUGE government scam.

  • Mike

    When you drove to Shreveport was your tank topped off or were you simply watching how much the fuel gage changed? I drove a Dodge pu for years. The first quarter tank, by reading the gage, would go nearly as far as the remainder of the tank. The gage is merely a guide. You need to log mileage when you top off the tank and on each fill-up for at least 2-3 tanks from the same supplier for confirmation.
    And also take into consideration what CES commented as well.

  • Shnarf

    Were you towed halfway back?

  • deandre johnson

    shut up GD

  • jack68

    GD, maybe its an incline on the way to Shreveport and a decline to Dallas. there are many factors.

  • Phillip McMurran

    Who or what company is in charge of TT. Who tests the fuel to confirm the ratings? I looked at the web site and there was nothing about HQ. I clicked on history and linked to 76 site.

  • CES

    I have researched this for months and I have even spoke with the EPA. The EPA doesn’t monitor gasoline detergent contents or advertising (that’s a matter for the Federal Trade Commission). In all these months, I have seen no scientific fact “top tier” gasoline is better for your automobile; only trendy corporate hearsay. Auto manufacturers and big oil may be working together to boost sales. If this is true, it makes sense why the auto manufacturers and big oil are pointing the finger at the EPA;’ plausible deny-ability.

  • ThomasXxs

    The auto manufacturers backing Top Tier (BMW, Audi, VW, Toyota, Honda and GM) all report having long-term studies showing that their engines perform better and last longer with optimal levels of detergent additives in the gasoline (as provided by Top Tier specs). I don’t see what these manufacturers really have to gain from this, that is not also advantageous to their customers and their cars.

  • Jeffey dahmer

    I like apples

  • len

    I like spaghetti

  • Jeffey dahmer

    My name is awesome and I can count to potato

  • Jeffey dahmer

    I also suck dick for cocaine, so please reply with product for a personalized oral massage. ( no blacks) sorry, my parents are old fashioned.

  • GayButtslutt

    Let’s do this

  • HyundaiMan

    I believe Costco has Top Tier gasoline also. But I am trying to figure out where does Costco get their gas from? Does anyone Know?

  • CMGZ510

    Tesoro here in SF BayArea

  • ThomasXxs

    I believe that “5x govt req” is what Shell claims about their Premium unleaded gasoline (93 octane in my area). I’m not sure if this 5x claim also applies to Shell regular unleaded gas. I have not seen that stated.

  • Challenger RT Mopar

    I was talking about how much additive Costco adds to their raw gasoline… Costco purchases raw gasoline (usually Tesoro here in SF Bay Area) meaning without any extra addictive from any place or other company. Yet as of two years or so ago Costco has added their own blend of detergents to the raw gasoline from their place of purchase, adding up to 5x the government requirements to meet the “Top Tier” standards… I have witnessed Costco purchase raw Shell branded gasoline and mix their own additive(5x gov. Standards) and sell it as Kirkland Signature Gasoline both premium and unleaded octane. Costco has very good gasoline is what I was saying… LoL

  • flacoface

    Yes, Costco is top tier.

  • charles

    that gas burns faster not that good to me

  • Me

    all about $$$$. the top tiers are unaffordable. I use Vlero and have never had issues and they are 20 cents lower

  • Filip Jakacki

    I actually notice a difference with higher tier fuels. I used to only out the cheapest gas but one time I was out so I stopped at Shell and filled up. I swear I got at least 60 miles more on a full tank, the car drove smoother, and was just overall different.

  • Aaron Lavender

    We don’t have 87 octane here in Utah. We have 85 88 and 91. Does Exxon’s,Chevron’s, Shell’s…etc…. 85 octane meet top tier standards?

  • sasquatchburrito

    It is still a Top Tier gasoline. To receive Top Tier status, a manufacutrer must meet the Top Tier requirements for all locations nationwide. Utah has lower octane because it is a high altitude market and engines have different requirements at higher altitudes.

  • Morgan Kemp

    If you go to maverick, then you will get all the way down below 85 and up.

  • Salazar Paula

    Yes all gas is the same,but I have a friend that’s a truck driver &delivers gas to different places&the stated that all gas has different chemicals,Valero,Aziz,Murrphy,HEB, are all generic gas the best one at top tier are Cheveron,Shell,Texaco,Philliphs66,etc cuz they have more detergent in it to clean the motor,&true,I filled up with Cheveron to take a road trip&went all the way to Austin on a half a tank normally using Murrphy etc I go from the valley to San Antonio,on a half a tank or a little bit more.

  • ThomasXxs

    It may be true that all gas for a certain area is the same PRIOR to adding the additive/detergent package for each brand (some of these gas additives even have a name and are also sold separately, like Techron for Chevron/Texaco gas or that Nitrogen-based detergent in Shell gas). As you say, the brand-specific additive packages are put into the gas by the truck driver making gas deliveries to different stations on his route. I’m not sure about the exact method for doing this.

    For one example, I understand that nearly all of the gasoline in the Carolinas and much of the southeast comes from a huge gasoline pipeline that pumps gasoline only, from southwest Louisiana to 2 major end-points near the East coast: one near Spartanburg, SC and the other one in northern New Jersey. The gasoline in this pipeline is a mixture of the output from something like 10 large oil refineries in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf coast area, with several of them near Houston. This pipeline system and others like it are probably the basis for claims that all gas is the same. It is in fact all the same coming out of the pipeline, but this is before the addition of the additive/detergent packages for those brands that improve on the minimum federal standard (such as the Top Tier brands). I’ve read in car magazines that many consider Chevron and Shell to be the best brands. I don’t know how true this is, but I did hear that Chevron was the only brand to meet Top Tier specs without making any changes.

  • Imogene Clymore

    I didn’t see Quik Trip on here, just Kwik Triip. In Oklahoma, we have Quik Trip (QT)

  • Homer J. Simpson

    QT is a big player here in Texas because they tend to be cheaper than the competition. I used them almost exclusively due to their price and accessible location. After about a year my car developed sluggish acceleration and frequent cold start misfires. A little research helped me determine it was most likely carbon buildup. I switched over to Chevron and within about 3 fill-ups the idle was noticably smoother and the misfire prompted check engine lights went from daily to less than once a week. Although I have seen QT listed in some publications as Top Tier, I let my experience speak for itself.
    (After running a can of Seafoam through the gas tank I haven’t seen a check engine light in 2 months. I continue to use ONLY Chevron.)

  • Pete Olivarez

    How is Valero Stripes gas?

  • Gronski, CD

    So, the question is, “What is the ‘best’ quality gasoline?” Still not answered.

    Break it down by octane level and part(s) of the country (Canada/USA) you’re in as well if required.

  • William E Hoyt

    My dealership (Hyundai) informed me that Costco has the worst gas on the market. Evidenced by clogged injectors by faithful Costco gas customers. I don’t see Costco listed as a top tier distributor. Any comments?

  • Velvet Jesus Elvis

    Costco gas is Top tier.

  • Akin Berry

    I’m a big fan of Chevron gas. The quality stands out from 76 gas stations (nearest to my home) and its not as crowded as Costco gas stations. Also they are tech friendly. They allow you to use Apple Pay tap system to pay at their stations. This cuts costs by reducing the paper receipts at stations. The annual fee to use Costco is $110. By going to Chevron and avoiding Costco’s annual fee, I save $6 per year based on my annual car gas consumption. I also avoid very time consuming long lines.

  • Fleming_007

    My mechanic swears on using Chevron, Mobil, and Shell only. Everything else he says isn’t real gasoline for example Arco is shit and will clog fuel injectors way more than normal use.

  • Tyler

    I’ve had alot of luck using Costco gas

  • JeezHchrist

    I miss the days not too long ago where you could buy 96 thur 102 octane gas from some stations in orange co Ca
    These days I usually buy Shell and if you shop at Ralphs you get 20 cents off per gal

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