Staff Report

AAA released new research that shows paying-up for premium may not be worth the extra money, unless your vehicle absolutely requires it.

In a study released last year, AAA found that consumers wasted nearly $2.1 billion dollars fueling vehicles with higher-octane gasoline.

While some vehicles are designed to run on premium octane gasoline, others simply recommend it. AAA set out to determine the effects of using premium gasoline in vehicles that recommend it, and whether the benefits in fuel economy and horsepower are worth the higher price at the pump.

AAA tested a variety of vehicles that recommend, but do not require the use of premium (91 octane or higher) gasoline.

A series of tests were conducted to determine whether the use of premium gasoline resulted in improved fuel economy and increased performance.

Although AAA has already proven that these vehicles are unlikely to see any benefit from using premium gasoline during typical city or highway driving, laboratory and on-road tests were performed to simulate extreme driving scenarios such as towing, hauling cargo and aggressive acceleration.

Most tested vehicles showed a modest improvement in fuel economy and performance.

Since premium gasoline costs 20-25% more than regular, the fuel economy improvements recorded during AAA testing do not offset the potential extra cost to purchase premium gasoline.

“Sometimes consumers think they are giving their vehicle a boost by buying a higher-grade gasoline than what is required,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA already proved that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in cars designed to run on regular. Now we can confidently say that unless the vehicle manufacturer requires it, or you drive in demanding conditions, motorists who buy premium are wasting money at the pump.”

Last year, nearly 1.5 million new vehicles sold in the United States recommend, but do not require, premium gasoline.

The trend toward recommending or requiring higher-octane fuel continues to rise as manufacturers work toward meeting stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards.

Drivers of vehicles that require premium gasoline should always use it.
Daily national, state, and metro gas price averages can be found at Gasprices.aaa.com or download the AAA Mobile App.