Last week, we broke a record…in gas prices.
The national average for a gallon of gas last week was $3.74, which is a record for this time of year and 16 cents higher than the same time last year, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Cheapskate that I am, I've bought gas at some questionable locations like the gas station that didn't have a brand, just a sign that read, "GAS!" under a giant inflatable gorilla.
Like most drivers, I'm all about price, never giving much thought to quality. After all, gas is gas, right?
Well, maybe not. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson talks with fourth-generation mechanic Pam Oakes about Top Tier gas, a special blend with additives that are supposed to help your car. Check out the video and then read on for more…
More details about Top Tier gas…
What exactly is Top Tier?
At first glance, Top Tier may seem like another way of saying "premium." But they're unrelated.
Premium is gasoline with a higher octane rating. Octanes are a group of hydrocarbons added to gas to slow down the fuel's urge to self-ignite. They simply help engines run without pinging or knocking. Car manufacturers recommend premium gasoline for some cars, but many don't need it. And if your car is rated for a lower octane, buying premium offers no benefit.
Top Tier gas is a special blend promoted by GM, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Audi, and Volkswagen. It contains detergent additives designed to reduce the buildup of deposits from combustion chambers, intake valves, and fuel injectors. Any octane rating can be Top Tier.
Does it work?
While there's no denying that Top Tier gas has added cleaning agents, there is debate as to whether they make a distinguishable difference. All gasoline has to contain enough detergent additives to meet a standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Top Tier simply has more. You can read opposing viewpoints in this USA Today article.
As you saw in the video, mechanic Pam Oakes says Top Tier gas does clean carbon out of your engine and is worth buying. She says she's seen the difference it can make with her own eyes and recommends it to all of her customers.
The bottom line: Top Tier could help your engine and won't hurt it. And since Top Tier gas only costs refiners about a penny more per gallon to produce than traditional blends, unlike premium, it shouldn't set you back much more at the pump.
Where to find it
The list of retailers offering Top Tier can change, but you can always find it at this page of the Top Tier site. Here's the current group:
Have you used Top Tier gas? Did it make a difference in your car's performance? Sound off on our Facebook page and tell us about it.
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