Does the brand of gas really matter?

Joined
Nov 6, 2003
Messages
311
Location
Ohio
Somebody school me in how gas is really different from one brand to another. It seems to be pretty much accepted that various gas stations in a given area all get their gasoline from one of maybe a couple different distribution facilities. I know there is one nearby where I live. There are also Valero, BP, Sunoco, Shell, Marathon, Speedway, and other smaller gas stations in my area. Sometimes, a particular station will be bought and turned into a completely different company brand overnight. Should I believe that there is also a completely different brand of gasoline in those tanks from what was in them prior to the change? Am I really to expect that the gasoline I get out of a Shell gas station pump is going to be completely different from the gasoline I get out of a BP pump? You'll see on television commercials all of these scientist's in lab coats analyzing Shell gasoline to make sure it is meeting their high standards, and compromised of their unique "V-Power" formulations. Turn the channel and you'll see an ad for BP (or any other name brand) with the same thing going on. Consumers are led to believe that each different brand is its' own unique product. If I am to assume that raw gasoline in a given area is all the same product, only differing at the last minute prior to being loaded into the tankers when the unique additives are added, am I also to believe that there is one blend of additives for Shell, one blend of additives for BP, one blend of additives for Marathon, etc, etc, etc? Am I really supposed to accept that the lone distribution center in my area has different "workstations" for each and every brand in the area? Is each facility occupied by scientists from all the different gas companies, all analyzing their own formulas at their own individual workstations? {The specific brand is irrelevant, so don't think I'm trying to pick on any company specifically. I'm just citing those that are in my area. You can replace/add companies depending upon what's near you.} With all this being said, I have to wonder if Top Tier gas ratings really mean anything. Think about it - if all of the actual gasoline comes from the same place, and only a different blend of additives is added at the last second, we would then have to fall back to believing that each company has their own unique formulation available at each and every facility. Unless someone knows otherwise, I suspect that a BP station (Top Tier) may very well be giving me the same product gasoline as a Marathon (not Top Tier) station located down the street. I am almost 100% convinced that you should buy the cheapest priced gasoline you can find, with the only criteria being that you select at least the octane recommended for your car. Obviously there are a lot of junk gas stations out there in terms of upkeep and condition of the pumps. But as long as you select a station that you know to be in good condition and reputable, I am having a hard time believing there is any difference at all from one gas station pump to the other. Am I wrong in all this? II
 

ls1mike

$50 Site Donor 2021
Joined
Jun 14, 2008
Messages
6,968
Location
In the Garage...
I can only tell you on the Trans Am it does. It has to have 92 octane. If I put Arco in and hook up the laptop I can see it pull the timing back. Chevron and Texaco, timing is right where it should be. This is all at WOT. I don't know what to attribute this too except perhaps the additives? Maybe the in ground tanks or the truck that delivers it?
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2014
Messages
347
Location
AZ
I delivered gas for a little while. I was told all the gas was the same. Additives make the difference. Except just a few exceptions. Texaco? Techron. Ethanol, another subject,But something that is a big problem.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2005
Messages
7,711
Location
MIchigan
I just talked to the owners of a no-name gas station that recently changed over to Sunoco and he said the gas itself is all the same except some of the big name companies add a small amount of additives so people think there getting better quality gas. And that your better off buying your own additives because the amount they add doesn't amount to much.
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2006
Messages
19,528
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Originally Posted By: ZiTS
I am almost 100% convinced that you should buy the cheapest priced gasoline you can find, with the only criteria being that you select at least the octane recommended for your car.
This is my thinking too. I usually buy the lowest price in the area I will be when I need to fill up my tank. But, I only buy Chevron and add a bottle of Techron a tank before bi-anual smog test. May be I don't need it but never failed smog test doing that way, and the extra cost is less than $10, so I stay with that regiment.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2013
Messages
1,742
Location
North Carolina
Well, there is top-tier gas and non-top-tier gas (sometimes called [censored]-gas). Basically, there are federal minimal standards for the amount of detergents, so while gas kinda starts off the same, those additives are where the price really differs. Some brands add more. For example, Shell claims it has twice the amount of detergents as the minimal requirement for their "regular" and 5-times as much for their V-Power. So it is not really Octane driven (and considering the CPU of vehicles, most vehicles can adjust for the octane rating even if they only require "regular"), so you are really paying mostly for the additive in the difference. Top-tier is really not going to be much different but non-top-tier is what some folks call bast.ard gas because you might not know exactly what it is or from which company. You have to do the math. Around me, Top-tier can be had for about $0.06 more than non-top-tier lowest priced option for regular. If I have a 15g tank, I am looking at a $0.90 difference and most additives run about $4 on sale. It is cheaper just to run the good stuff and not worry.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 12, 2012
Messages
3,514
Location
Cincinnati, OH
most of it is all the same. also i have found that just because it is top tier doesn't mean the gas is better. My old C5 corvette would run like junk on shell 93 octane from any station that was shell, but would run way better on Murphy oil fuel (walmart). It would pull way more timing running V-power than any other brand. It would pull little to none running Wal-mart station gas. I just buy what is closest and cheapest. Top Tier is a bunch of hog wash IMO. just buy some good fuel system cleaner to run through the tank every 5-10k miles.
 
Last edited:

NO2

Joined
Sep 6, 2012
Messages
957
Location
Michigan
Most gas brands share a refinery in most areas . The only difference is the additives that are added to the gas. EPA mandates a certain level. That being said, some brands have better filtering or more modern, non corrosive tanks. Top-Tier brands usually have some additional injector cleaner. I usually go to Costco (also Top Tier 5x detergent)- it is 25c-35c/gas cheaper than BP, Shell, Mobil, etc... and not much out of the way for me.
 
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
1,445
Location
Dana Point, CA
13 refineries serving California and adjacent states. Tanker trucks typically fill up at 'bulk' terminals, then specific retailers add proprietary brews of various additives. I like clean stations in the nice part of town. Wife wastes time driving about to save a dime.
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2010
Messages
9,783
Location
Saskatoon canada
Originally Posted By: Warstud
I just talked to the owners of a no-name gas station that recently changed over to Sunoco and he said the gas itself is all the same except some of the big name companies add a small amount of additives so people think there getting better quality gas. And that your better off buying your own additives because the amount they add doesn't amount to much.
Remarkably not even close. Yes fuel fir a market comes from the same transfer stations. The additives are added making that load a particular brand. The additives are the key as far as brand goes but the quality of the fuel itself is the same,until it reaches the particular station. It's at that point the fuel can go straight to h e double hockey sticks. Buying from a busy station no matter the brand will be the smartest thing a consumer can do. That ensures the fuel is fresh,the additives haven't suffered any settling and the octane hasn't degraded. Unless a company has its own refinery feeding it's stations,then quality is discretionary.
 
Joined
May 6, 2005
Messages
7,297
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Originally Posted By: NO2
Most gas brands share a refinery in most areas . The only difference is the additives that are added to the gas. EPA mandates a certain level. That being said, some brands have better filtering or more modern, non corrosive tanks. Top-Tier brands usually have some additional injector cleaner. I usually go to Costco (also Top Tier 5x detergent)- it is 25c-35c/gas cheaper than BP, Shell, Mobil, etc... and not much out of the way for me.
I wouldn't necessarily think they get common fuel from the same refinery all the time. They will typically get their fuel loaded from a common fuel depot. Base fuel is a commodity. When the depot gets it, they don't really care where it came from as long as it is what the refiner says it is. They'll also probably intermix the 87 octane or 91 octane from different refineries and not worry about it. They'll typically be sent to the depot by pipeline, and even a depot next to a refinery can receive fuel from different refineries. There's a fuel depot next to the Chevron Richmond refinery near where I live, but when Chevron shut down the refinery after a fire and then was up to about 20% production, the depot was probably still operational because it was receiving fuel from other refineries. Also - it's not necessarily the case that the fuel is identical. A chemist could probably tell the difference, and there are supposedly composition differences even at the same refinery depending on the crude source used. It's just that they're equivalent.
 
Joined
May 6, 2005
Messages
7,297
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Originally Posted By: ZiTS
With all this being said, I have to wonder if Top Tier gas ratings really mean anything. Think about it - if all of the actual gasoline comes from the same place, and only a different blend of additives is added at the last second, we would then have to fall back to believing that each company has their own unique formulation available at each and every facility. Unless someone knows otherwise, I suspect that a BP station (Top Tier) may very well be giving me the same product gasoline as a Marathon (not Top Tier) station located down the street. I am almost 100% convinced that you should buy the cheapest priced gasoline you can find, with the only criteria being that you select at least the octane recommended for your car. Obviously there are a lot of junk gas stations out there in terms of upkeep and condition of the pumps. But as long as you select a station that you know to be in good condition and reputable, I am having a hard time believing there is any difference at all from one gas station pump to the other. Am I wrong in all this? II
TiredTrucker can explain how all the dumping of the additives goes down. The short answer is that it's pretty easy for every fuel marketer to have its own additive tanks at the depot, and the process is automated such that a driver signs in and all the fuel and additives are metered for a particular customer. There might also be generic additives that are used for the independent customers. As far as the additives go - who knows. Shell actually doesn't do their own additives. I thought that their Infineum joint venture with Exxon-Mobil did, but I don't see it any more. Chevron is most definitely in-house. Techron is on the EPA list of registered bulk additives. Apparently the following list is new and only contains bulk detergent additives. Before, the list of additives included aftermarket treatments, although the bulk detergent additives had a footnote. This one is only certified additives that meet the EPA minimum detergent standard. I only see two oil companies (Chevron and Sunoco) with the bulk being from 3rd party chemical companies like BASF, Lubrizol, and Afton Chemical. I believe that a lot of the big names just buy one of these rather than devote resources to developing their own. Costco actually had Lubrizol develop Lubrizol 9888 to their requirements. http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/registrationfuels/web-detrg.htm The issue I'd have with relying on "miracle in a bottle" additives is that you really have no idea what the efficacy of it is and at what dose. Some of these are marketed as occasional treatments and could cause issues if you insist on using them at full-strength every time.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2014
Messages
705
Location
Virginia
Originally Posted By: Clevy
Originally Posted By: Warstud
I just talked to the owners of a no-name gas station that recently changed over to Sunoco and he said the gas itself is all the same except some of the big name companies add a small amount of additives so people think there getting better quality gas. And that your better off buying your own additives because the amount they add doesn't amount to much.
Remarkably not even close.
It's actually a case of having the facts and then applying your emotional bias to come to a conclusion that fits your preconceptions. The gas is the same. The big names do add a small amount of additive to it (above the EPA minimum). They do advertise this and people do believe they are getting better gas. But that small amount is the exact amount required to keep fuel systems clean. It's based on real research, development and testing. So there's nothing wrong, indeed what they are doing is helpful. Would you be better off buying your own additives and adding it to epa minimum gas? If you buy the correct one (PEA), then it will save you money if the no brand station is cheaper than the branded station. But it's an effort and I certainly don't want to bother with such a thing every time I fill up. And ever since Costco upgraded their gas to top tier, they are typically the cheapest and with their turnover and their quality control, the best quality gas available.
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
2,744
Location
San Antonio, TX
Agreed. There are common carrier pipelines such as Colonial, Plantation, Buckeye, that accept shipments as "fungible". Some have their own specs for meeting this criteria (Colonial is a prime example), and there are potential issues of additives in one shipment traveling by pipeline not being desireable in another product (like traces of diesel additives winding up in subsequent shipments along the same line in jet fuels). So "fungible" barrels go to storage terminals and specific additives are added at the truck loading rack, often with "branded" vs. "unbranded" additives. Shell Vpower, BP Invigorate, Marathon's use of STP additives are all examples of "branded" vs. say Sam's Club for example. This tends to be the case even when a company is shipping products from its own refinery via its own pipeline to its own storage terminal. Other large bulk shipments often move by water, whether inland barges, intracoastal barges, ocean going barges or tanker ships. Final dispensing of additives is still typically performed at the point of transport truck loading, and things have been this way for decades. Often companies will have exchange agreements where products supplied in one location by another company's supply system are balanced in the second company's system by the first company. There are "boutique fuels" markets, such as special specs for fuels sold in the Atlanta area, or the Chicago area, or Houston, or Dallas, and California and not every refinery can actually produce fuels meeting some local specifications that go beyond what most of the rest of the country can use.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 4, 2012
Messages
14,771
Location
Kendall, FL
My use always depends on traffic through the station, price, (mostly top tier). Even with that regimen, I had a batch of funny gas a week ago. Caused slight pinging that has since gone away with an new fill up. Costco 50% Shell 25% Marathon (not top tier) 15% BP/Mobil/Chevron/Exxon 10% One bottle of Techron twice/year
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2014
Messages
705
Location
Virginia
As Costco have performed tests showing their additive achieves clean up as well as keep clean, I will cease entirely or significantly reduce the frequency with which I use Techron concentrate. I experienced a positive difference from using Techron on vehicles that received it for the first time after tens of thousands of miles on unknown / non top tier gas, but my recent usage of it, after I switched primarily to top tier gas, does not appear to do anything.
 
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
1,420
Location
Balto.
If you have a new car and expect to trade it in 3 years there will be very little difference. If you expect to keep it longer Top Tier is a good option.
 
Top