Cheap gas can increase emissions, hurt performance, and reduce gas mileage.

By: Joel Patel

Putting the cheapest gas in your car may be helping your wallet, but, according to the AAA auto club, it's not helping your vehicle. Ever since 1996, all gasoline must have some engine-cleaning additives, but a lot of major companies put extra detergents. And it's paid off. In a recent independent study, AAA found that gasolines with fewer detergents left 19 times more deposits on engine intake valves than top-tier fuels after 4,000 miles of driving.

According to AAA, carbon deposits can increase a car's emissions, hurt performance, and reduce gas mileage. One easy way to prevent carbon build-up in modern engines is to use a top-tier fuel with an enhanced additive package. AAA claims that there are at least eight automakers that currently recommend drivers to use a top-tier fuel. These top-tier fuels have additives that include corrosion inhibitors, metal deactivators, antioxidants, and oxygenates.

With these kinds of additives, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that gasolines with extra detergents cost an average of three cents more than lower-tier fuel, claims AAA. That's where the problem lies. In a survey conducted by AAA, three-fourths of consumers purchase their gas based on location or price. Only one out of eight consumers picked a brand because the fuel has extra detergents in it. There's still some hope, however.

AAA's director of automotive engineering, Greg Brannon, states car owners can reverse some of the effects by switching to a top-tier fuel for a few thousand miles. Next time you fill up, look out for one of these gasoline retailers to avoid a costly repair bill down the road.


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