You Could Be Wasting $300 a Year With This Gas Station Mistake

You Could Be Wasting $300 a Year With This Gas Station Mistake

super-1408490_1280Premium gas doesn’t make your car run any better, a new report from AAA suggests.

Researchers tested cars that required only regular gasoline—which make up 70 percent of the vehicles on the road—while running on premium gas and on regular fuel. The scientists evaluated the cars’ horsepower, fuel economy, and tailpipe emissions.

Across the board, they found no significant differences between the two fuel types.The price tag for your useless upgrade: $292 per year, based on an average annual usage of 583 gallons and the $.50-per-gallon price difference between premium and regular.

For some reason, lots of people are still making this mistake: 11 percent of drivers with cars made to run on regular gas upgraded to premium at least once in the past 12 weeks, the AAA study found.

Because the gas is called “premium,” people may assume it’s better for their car, says Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering at AAA. But “premium” really just means higher octane, which refers to the way the fuel was formulated.

Performance automobiles, such as turbocharged BMWs, require high-octane gas for the engine to run smoothly, Brannon says. If you fill these types of cars with regular gas, it can eventually lead to engine damage.

There’s also a misperception that premium gas “cleans” your engine, the researchers say.

In years past, premium gas was advertised to contain more compounds that prevent carbon deposits from building up in engines. But thanks to government emissions regulations, all grades of gas now must contain enough of those additives.

Your move, then, is simple: Use the kind of fuel your car was designed to take. If you’re not sure, check your owner’s manual or the inside of your gas tank door, or if all else fails, see this list from Edmunds.