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Q: Is Brand-Name Gasoline Better?

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Is brand-name gasoline better?

A: Brand-name gasoline isn't necessarily b...

Brand-name gasoline isn't necessarily better than independent label gasoline. Gasoline is gasoline. That being said, name-brand fuel does have some attributes and qualities that independent fuelers don't have.

Let me explain.

There actually is a difference in gasoline. That difference is not in the gasoline itself, but rather in the additive packages that are mixed with the raw fuel stock. Each gasoline company (Texaco, Chevron, BP, Amoco, Shell, Sunoco, etc.) has a package of chemical additives that are designed to achieve certain beneficial effects inside the combustion chamber of your engine.

Some of these additives (detergents) help keep the combustion chamber clean by preventing carbon build-up. Other additives help improve the quality of combustion. Some are used to aid in cold-weather vaporization of the fuel.

Fuel additive packages are also custom tailored to meet various emissions laws. For instance, California has the most stringent laws regarding vehicle emissions in the world. In order to meet these emissions requirements, fuel refiners reformulate their gasoline differently than they would for other states. That requires different combinations of additives.

If every brand of gasoline sold in California meets state requirements for emissions, then why do gas prices differ so much? To a large degree, the answer, again, is the additive packages. Independent label fuels generally contain fewer additives which can translate to lower prices at the pumps, if their costs are in line with other marketers and the retailer keeps his markup with reasonable limits. Increased sales volume can help reduce fuel prices, too, through bulk purchasing savings. More additives usually means cleaner burning fuels. These “better” fuels demand higher prices at the pump.

I have noticed that my personal vehicle runs better, and gets better mileage, on one brand of fuel over another brand. Cost isn't always a factor. I try to use the fuel that works best in my car, but I do use other gasolines when my fuel tank gets near empty.

Experiment. Find the fuel that works best in your car.

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