US Drivers Waste $2.1B on Premium Gasoline Each Year

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

If your car doesn’t require premium gasoline, AAA says it’s a waste of money.

According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted over $2.1 billion in the last 12 months by purchasing premium gasoline for vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. As a result, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to see if there are any benefits to using premium gasoline when it is not required by the manufacturer. Using industry-standard test protocols, AAA evaluated vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, and found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.

The research was done in collaboration with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, and involved testing of 87- and 93-octane gasoline in vehicles equipped with inline-four cylinder, V6 or V8 engines designed to use regular-grade fuel. Each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer to measure horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions when using both fuel types and a variety of driving conditions. The testing found no significant increases in any of the tested categories, indicating that using premium gasoline when it’s not required offers no benefits.

SEE ALSO: Why Are Gas Prices so Low?

AAA then surveyed U.S. drivers and found that 70 percent currently own a vehicle that requires regular gasoline, while 16 percent drive vehicles that require premium gasoline. The remaining 14 percent required mid-grade gasoline or uses an alternative energy source. In addition, in the last 12 months, U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium fuel in their vehicles more than 270 million times.

“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel.”

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

More by Jason Siu

Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Smartacus Smartacus on Sep 20, 2016

    i wish more cars that require Premium for maximum performance would be retuned for maximum performance with only 89 Medium. ...having said that; mine will feel slower and get lower gas mileage when i cheap out and put 91 in there instead of 93.