Automotive Tips: How Are Gasoline Brands Different?

All gasolines are not the same. Information on different gas companies' products, for informed consumers. It's all in the additives.

My next door neighbor swears by a brand of gasoline that is sold about 5 miles from our neighborhood. I, on the other hand, opt for the gas station that is less than a half-mile away. I figure, all brands of gasoline are basically the same, while my neighbor insists not. Guess who is right? My neighbor, of course. Not all brands are the same, although every one of them starts out basically the same.

All gasoline is made from crude oil. It goes to the refinery and what comes out is called the base gasoline. Since all crude oil is not created equal, not all base gasolines are the same, either. However, they are so close as to all be able to carry the label "base" as in "hey guys, if you want to make gasoline, this is what you can start with". All base gasolines leave the refinery with one additive. It is required by law that they have an additive that prevents deposits in an engine's intake valves. From this base gasoline, all brands begin to work their own particular magic.

Let's make this clear: all gasoline, no matter what brand, leaves deposits behind in your fuel injectors or your carburetor in your car. As many brands of gasoline that are on the market, that is how many combination of additives there are that will remove those deposits. The additives that Brand A uses can be the same as the additives that Brand B uses, but each will use a different amount of each to clean out certain deposits that are left behind by any gasoline. Brand C on the other hand, may decide to use completely different additives than Brand A or Brand B altogether. All brands decide which additives to add based on what deposit they want to get rid of. Then, the marketing department goes to work to convince you that your car will run better because of this additive.



Just what are these additives, anyway? Glad you asked. They are those that:

- deter gumming and improve the stability of the gasoline

- reduce deposits that foul your spark plugs and also prevent preignition

- prevent the fuel from icing, improve how the fuel vaporizes, reduce injector and valve

deposits and reduce emissions.

- prevent the fuel from corroding the tanks it is stored in before it gets to your

gas station, and also after it gets there and is stored prior to your pumping it

into your tank.

- prevent the fuel from icing up

- give the fuel its particular color

These are the additives that gasoline companies put into their brand of gasoline. Their marketing will tell you which additive or additives are in their gasoline, and why you should buy it to keep your car running smoothly.

Isn't that simple? No...actually it isn't. First of all, you would expect that each brand gets their base gasoline from the same place close-by their Brand Headquarters. That is not the case. Brands do not pipe their own base gasoline to their different plants for the additives to be added. Gas is expensive enough without the added expense of each brand piping their own base to places far away from their headquarters, when there is perfectly good base to be had closer to the various plants throughout the United States. Since it is the additives that make Brands A, B, and C different, and since the base gasolines differ only slightly, it makes sense to do this. However, Brand A in the Mid-West will probably be different than Brand A found on the East Coast - even though the additives in the gas are the same. Perhaps it is nit-picking to include this information, but it is interesting to note nonetheless.

The second thing to remember about these different brands is that each additive will remove the deposits it says it will, but each will also leave behind its own deposit. That's right, each additive leaves behind deposits of its own, which will in time, build up in your engine. No marketing department will ever tell you that. That's not good for business! So, what is a savvy consumer to do? Why, switch brands every few thousand miles, that's what! Look at what Brand A says its additives will do, and then look at what Brand B says, and Brand C and so on, and then switch based on your research. Of course, if you are like me, all that researching is just too taxing. Just switch brands every few thousand miles, and know that you are one of the few who really know the score about gasoline brands and their additives. Am I going to share this information with my neighbor? I'm still thinking about it.

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