Cheap Gas: What You Should Know

  • By Morgan Gertler
  • 30 Aug, 2017
Gasoline is a necessary ongoing expense for vehicle owners, and many people are looking for ways to save at the pump. You probably already know that premium fuel is an unnecessary expense for those whose cars do not require it, but you may be skeptical of switching to an off brand. Will cheap gas harm your car? Here is what you should know.

The Historical Perspective

Until quite recently, car engines were notoriously finicky. Even a slight change in the composition of fuel could cause knocking, stalling, and other unpleasant side effects. In addition, government regulation of fuel quality was extremely lax, and many budget gas stations cut corners. Just 20 years ago, cheap gas came with a real risk of damaging your car.

Today, though, things have changed. All gas sold in the United States must meet rigorous standards designed to keep engines clean and reduce emissions. Advances in vehicle technology mean that cars’ onboard computers can adjust to fuel variations on the fly. All in all, unless you have a high-performance car that requires premium gas, you are not likely to notice much if any difference regardless of which gas you choose.

Extra Protection

Of course, like any other product on the market, all gas is not the same. While off-brand gas is not likely to hurt your car, major-brand gas can provide an extra layer of protection. This is due to the differences in additives between brands. Refinery workers add the government-mandated additives to raw gasoline before delivering it to the various gas companies. Then each brand (or off-brand) adds its own blend of additives designed to improve both engine performance and cleaning. As the theory goes, the major brands include proprietary additives, as well as more additives overall, that provide extra protection for the engine.

Do I Need Name Brand Gas?

Are these additives necessary? That largely depends on what you are looking for. Those with brand new cars might prefer to pay an extra few cents per gallon for the peace of mind that comes with babying the car as much as possible. Those who have spent thousands extra for a high-performance car will likely want to purchase not just premium fuel, but the “best” premium fuel they can find. And those whose daily driver is on its last legs might prefer to pay extra for name brand gas in an effort to keep it running for as long as possible.

In general, though, a wide range of independent testing has shown that cheap gas isn’t likely to damage the average car under average driving conditions. You can always buy an occasional tank of name brand gas, or pour in a bottle of additives a couple of times a year, just to make sure that the system is thoroughly flushed. On a daily basis, though, it is generally fine to buy whatever gas you like. Just check your owner’s manual before making the switch to ensure that your vehicle doesn’t require a particular octane rating or type of fuel.
If you are tired of getting the runaround and being treated like you haven’t got a clue, we invite you to try Colchin Automotive instead. Give us a call at 303-431-5421 for all of your automotive needs!

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