When it comes to buying gas, most drivers want to pull up to the pump, fill up and drive off as quickly as they can. But if you stop to pay attention to a few key factors, you could save a lot of money!
3 things to look for before you buy gas
To ensure that your car runs at its best, here are three questions every driver should ask themselves before their next fill-up!
1. Does this gas station sell Top Tier gas?
Top Tier gas refers to engine-cleaning detergents that are added to all grades of fuel, even the cheap stuff.
A study from AAA found that non-Top Tier gasoline caused 19 times more engine deposits than Top Tier brands after 4,000 miles of simulated driving.
So to keep your car healthy, the auto club suggests buying from a Top Tier station.
“Americans are six times more likely to choose a gas station based on the price of gasoline rather than the quality of the fuel,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Since TOP TIER gasoline is widely available and only an average of three cents more per gallon, AAA urges drivers to reconsider their priorities when selecting a gas station.”
Where exactly is Top Tier gas sold? Here’s a list of stations, which includes Costco and QuikTrip, two of the nation’s giants of gas discounting.
2. Is my tank nearly empty?
If your gas tank is below 1/4 full, you’re just asking for trouble!
Keep in mind that not only can your fuel gauge be inaccurate, but allowing the level of gas in the tank to run low can actually damage your car.
According to Consumer Reports, the gas in your car ‘acts like a coolant for the electric fuel-pump motor, so when you run very low, this allows the pump to suck in air, which creates heat and can cause the fuel pump to wear prematurely and potentially fail.’
The repair could cost a couple hundred dollars, which is a lot more than the cost of filling up the tank!
3. Do I really need to pay for premium gas?
Are you paying more for premium gas, even just once a month or so? You might be wasting your money.
A recent AAA study found that drivers wasted more than $2 billion in the last year by using premium-grade gas in cars that were designed to run on regular fuel.
“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” said Nielsen. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel.”
AAA says premium gas is formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most cars can’t take advantage of the higher octane rating.
In the last 12 months, 16.5 million U.S. drivers unnecessarily bought premium-grade gasoline.
How to find the cheapest gas
You probably already know where to find the cheapest gas in your city because you pay attention to the signs, but money-saving apps — like GasBuddy — are really handy when you’re traveling.
In addition to identifying the lowest price, GasBuddy also highlights stations that sell Top Tier gas.