US Drivers Waste $2.1B on Premium Gasoline Each Year


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.

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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.”