There is a lot of debate online about whether using cheap gas makes a difference. We at Big Oak Citgo know that it does, and that’s why we sell a Top Tier gas brand at our pumps. Using cheap gas isn’t going to reduce your car’s horsepower or have any immediate impact on how your vehicle drives. It is all about long term carbon deposits in certain engine components.
How it all started
Automotive technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, mostly driven by Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and The California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standards. CAFÉ standards have resulted in car makers producing more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly engine designs. CARB standards have helped reinforce the needs for low emissions vehicles. These standards have driven innovation in all areas of engine control and have produced some amazing new engine control systems and strategies. They also require exact formulations of all maintenance and consumable fluids, such as engine oil, antifreeze and gasoline.
As these complex systems began hitting the streets, manufacturers realized they had a problem. They began to see unexplained break downs, no starts and other drivability concerns. They came to realize the cause was inconsistent or nonexistent additive packages in gasoline.
The solution to the problem
A new standard was introduced in 1997 called the lowest additive concentration (LAC) standard. The LAC standard required a minimum level of additives, in the hope of resolving the drivability and reliability issues. It worked for a few years, but technology marched on and soon these minimum required levels become unsatisfactory. In 2004 top tier gasoline additive package standards were introduced to standardize fuel additive packages but not every brand got on board.
Top tier gasoline standards allow new car manufacturers to design engine control systems in ever tighter tolerances, increasing mileage, reducing emissions, and increasing performance. Top tier additive packages also allow manufacturers to design in less wear and deposit tolerance for things like injectors, valves and combustion chambers. For instance, intake valve deposits that would have caused no problem at all 10 years ago, will cause significant drivability concerns in today’s gasoline direct injection cars.
Strangely, the top tier standard is not required, some gasoline brands, and all unbranded gasoline does not comply with top tier standards. Many premium new car manufacturers such as BMW, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Audi suggest using only top tier gasoline. It makes sense because, despite the slightly increased price at the pumps, the amount of money you can save by not paying for expensive high mileage car repairs can be substantial. For more information please see www.toptiergas.com, or www.aaa.com/AAA/common/AAR/files/Fuel-Quality-Full-Report.pdf
The bottom line
You can look at the progression of gasoline additives in the market as well as the advancements in engine efficiency for all you need to know. The use of additives in gas has increased and gained consistency as engine design has advanced. One would think with this correlation you could not deny the impact Top Tier gas makes on the modern vehicle. A case study done by the American Automobile association yielded some shocking results. When comparing Top Tier gas brands with non-Top Tier brands in a controlled environment, “non-Top Tier gasolines caused 19 times more engine deposits than Top Tier brands after just 4,000 miles”. This is not a huge concern in the low mileages but when talking about a gasoline direct injection vehicle with 100k miles or higher, carbon deposit build-up certainly becomes a concern. Carbon will build up in a few primary places, in the combustion cylinder itself, the fuel injectors, and the engine intake and exhaust valves. Carbon deposits in all these locations can impact how your vehicle runs, cause it to not start, misfire, and turn your check engine light on.