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Please share your opinions, recommendations, and investigations (demonstration of performance or maintenance improvement) about the value of paying extra for Top Tier Gasoline (~.$15-$.30 per gallon).

As a note of interest, Toyota Owner’s Manuals recommends the usage of top tier gasoline.

Top Tier Gasoline Retailers:
76
Petro-Canada
Aloha Petroleum
Phillips 66
Chevron
QuikTrip
Chevron Canada
Rebel Oil
Conoco
Road Ranger
CountryMark
Severson Oil
Entec Stations
Shell
Shell Canada
Esso
Exxon
Sunoco Canada
Kwik Trip / Kwik Star
Texaco
MFA Oil Co.
The Somerset Refinery, Inc.
Mileage Stations
Tri-Par Oil Co.
Mobil
Turkey Hill Minit Markets
U.S. Oil
 

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Some major oil companies still have their own refineries in Houston and Corpus Christi, maybe some still in Louisiana too. But for most of the U.S., the refineries are independent operations and all the gasoline retailers buy from them for local distribution - it's way cheaper than transporting it from Houston. So chances are pretty good that all your gas in Seattle comes from the same couple of nearest refineries.

After that, the biggest difference between brands is how clean they require their retailers to keep their underground storage tanks. Water is always condensing out of the air in tanker trucks and underground tanks (in small quantities). It will eventually build up on the bottom of the tank, along with other crud. Major oil companies have stricter standards for testing and clearing the tanks than quick-e-marts, though if you buy from a high-volume quick-e-mart you lessen the chances of getting cruddy gas.

The last difference between brands is the additive package. Major oil companies will add their own proprietary additive package to the gas they buy in bulk from the local refinery. Some of these are quite good and beneficial, but remember you are talking about a few parts per million so there is no miracle to them.

My own personal preference is either Chevron or Shell gasoline, because I like their additive packages and I know they have to keep their tanks clean. I tend to keep my vehicles for a very long time, and paying a few cents more per gallon for these brands does not bother me (it also helps that my income goes up when the price of gasoline goes up). If you buy cheap quick-e-mart gas, try to buy it from a place that does a lot of business and has high turn-over.
 

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Some major oil companies still have their own refineries in Houston and Corpus Christi, maybe some still in Louisiana too. But for most of the U.S., the refineries are independent operations and all the gasoline retailers buy from them for local distribution - it's way cheaper than transporting it from Houston. So chances are pretty good that all your gas in Seattle comes from the same couple of nearest refineries.

After that, the biggest difference between brands is how clean they require their retailers to keep their underground storage tanks. Water is always condensing out of the air in tanker trucks and underground tanks (in small quantities). It will eventually build up on the bottom of the tank, along with other crud. Major oil companies have stricter standards for testing and clearing the tanks than quick-e-marts, though if you buy from a high-volume quick-e-mart you lessen the chances of getting cruddy gas.

The last difference between brands is the additive package. Major oil companies will add their own proprietary additive package to the gas they buy in bulk from the local refinery. Some of these are quite good and beneficial, but remember you are talking about a few parts per million so there is no miracle to them.

My own personal preference is either Chevron or Shell gasoline, because I like their additive packages and I know they have to keep their tanks clean. I tend to keep my vehicles for a very long time, and paying a few cents more per gallon for these brands does not bother me (it also helps that my income goes up when the price of gasoline goes up). If you buy cheap quick-e-mart gas, try to buy it from a place that does a lot of business and has high turn-over.
1911 speaks the truth on this topic. This has been true for several years now. My step father owned several gas stations, all major brand names. The bulk product was always purchased from the lowest cost supplier.

So when you decide to boycott a brand you are really boycotting an independent small business.
 

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I have found I get the best results with fuel from Shell, I have neveer had a problem with paying extra for quality.
 

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They don't rate BP as a "Top Tier" gasoline?:confused:

KyFJGuy
 

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I mostly use QuikTrip. Of course they aren't very widespread, so I will usually use one of the top-tier ones listed otherwise. I only use quick-e-mart gas if I have to.

I'm surprised by the exclusions of BP too. Where is that list from?
 

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Top Tier?

The fuel at different branded stations may be coming from the same refinery.

On the way back from town, we sometimes follow the tanker delivering our fuel via surface streets all four miles from the Frontier Refinery to our local Pilot truck stop. Tankers with all kinds of markings on their sides go in and out of the refinery. I know guys that work at the refinery and we've talked about this. The tanker drivers are at the Pilot on the auto as well as semi side all the time. The truck stop was built five years ago and is super busy as it has a prime location near the bisection of two Interstates.

Besides diesel,the Pilot sells 87,89 and 93 on the automobile side. Unless we are on an out of area trip and need fuel, we buy all our gasoline at the Pilot. 93 for the Subie and 87 for the FJ, Polaris RZR and Craftsman Lawn Tractor. Over several years, we've always had good luck with performance and gas mileage/hours from Frontier fuel. We see no reason to pay more for quality.
 

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i know in L.A. there are only a few terminals that distribute gas to all the gas stations in the area. Each brand does not have its own terminal. Maintenance and cleanliness of tanks is not necessarily better with major branded stations. it is up to the operator of the site how well he maintains the tanks which in most cases is never unless needed. All gas dispensers have filters for the gas. These must be maintained/replaced as once a filter starts to get clogged, gas will start to pump very slowly. some people are loyal to a particular brand which might cost more but don't realize the small independently owned station on the next block also gets its gas from the same terminal.
 

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One of the part time jobs I juggled putting myself through school was at a gasoline terminal in the Columbus Ohio area. This was over a decade ago, so some of this might be dated.

All of the terminals in the area (Shell, Marathon, BP, and some others) got their gas from a pipeline that came up from the gulf region. The pipelines tend to be owned by third parties.

Quality of gas can be impacted by where you make the cut in the pipeline flow. If there is say low sulfur diesel and you want to switch to gas, there will be some ‘trans mix’ going into a gasoline tank. It could go to a trans mix tank, but that eventually gets blended into the lower octane gasoline.

Also if the terminal does not have capacity, the volume can be ‘traded’ with one of the competitor’s terminals in the area. The pipeline does not shut down and the fuel has to go somewhere.

The premium gas and the diesel fuel tended to not get mixed with anything else.

The QC is actually pretty tight. If a terminal or refinery messed up big there would be tens of thousands of vehicles having issues at once. It would probably make the news.

The larger metro areas will actually have their own formulation of gas. By law only a specific formulation of gas can be sold in these locations. This is normally thought to be better for the environment, but lower on the energy it provides. This is one reason for having a specific refinery serving a specific region.
 

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The additives are the only differences between brands. At the local Valero, Citgo, or Flint Hills refineries here in Corpus Christi area, you can see ALL brands of gas trucks filling their tanks. It's funny when you see the Citgo truck at the Valero, even though there is a Citgo refinery right up the road. This is why the emails telling everyone to stop buying from Exxon (or whichever) to bring gas prices down do nothing but hurt your locally owned service stations.
 

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They don't rate BP as a "Top Tier" gasoline?:confused:

KyFJGuy
X2, I don't get it either. There was thread here a while back on Top Tier Gasoline with links. I switch to Shell for a while after all the reading but switch back having used BP 93 with no problems going on 5 years. Another factor for me was that Shell in NJ charges more if you use your credit card. BP same price cash or credit.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just to add to the discussion…the article also talks about why BP is not classified as Top Tier

Costco Response to Top Tier Gasoline Inquiry
________________________________________

All gasoline retailers in a given market sell the same grade and quality fuel, as the government has very precise standards for octane and other gasoline characteristics. The only difference between different brands of fuel is the detergent additive package. Since 1995, the federal government requires that all gasoline sold in the U.S. contain detergent additives. These additives must be EPA-approved, and the government specifies the amount based on what it takes to keep engines free of deposits. Because it's a performance-based requirement, over the years the fuel suppliers have figured out ways to use less of these expensive additives to achieve the government standards. All Costco gasoline contains detergent additives in the amount necessary to meet these requirements.

Recently, several automakers (BMW, GM, Toyota, and Honda) announced their new "Top Tier" standard for gasoline, as they believe the government additive requirement is too low. They invited gasoline manufacturers to certify their fuel to this higher standard, and several have done so. Other major oil companies, such as BP, declined as they believe the auto manufacturers are simply trying to reduce their warranty claims. To achieve this voluntary "Top Tier" designation, all the fuel sold in the U.S. must meet the higher standard. Costco cannot currently do this as we buy from a variety of refiners and distributors around the country and do not own our own truck terminals where the additives are blended with the fuel.

Nor is it certain how much additive is really necessary to keep an engine clear of deposits. The fuel detergent is only one component, as anything that causes incomplete combustion will lead to valve deposits and fuel injector clogging. It's easy for an auto mechanic to simply declare the problem is the gasoline. So the science is uncertain, and the industry response is certainly not unanimous. Regardless, we are actively researching the issue directly with the various additive manufacturers. We are hesitant to raise the cost of fuel to our members without first understanding if this is simply a way for some brands to charge more for their fuel. We do know that we sell a tremendous amount of fuel with very few complaints.

Costco only buys fuel from reputable suppliers, and we do a very good job of maintaining our tanks and pump filters to assure clean fuel is delivered to our members. If you remain concerned about fuel deposits, Costco sells a four-pack of Chevron's Proguard fuel injector cleaner in our warehouses for about $10, or $2.50 per bottle. It's much less expensive to use a bottle of this occasionally than to buy higher priced fuel every time you fill up. Any auto parts store has a shelf full of similar products.

Again, all Costco fuel contains detergent additives sufficient to meet the government standards. As with anything we sell, our fuel is 100% guaranteed.
 

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I am shocked and utterly disappointed that nowhere was "Pump and Munch" mentioned.
 

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No Kum and Go?





 

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Our Kum & Go is also full service.
 

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Interesting information in this thread. Thanks!

Funny how the brand of the gas station has little to do with what's in their pumps sometimes. It reminds me of a friend who used to pump aviation fuel at the Saskatoon, SK, Canada airport. There are 2 companies that sell av gas at that airport: Shell and ESSO. He worked for ESSO. They bought their fuel and filled up their truck from Shell which was right next door! And Shell bought their fuel directly from the ESSO refinery in Edmonton! :lol:
 
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