AAA: Americans Wasted Over $2 Billion on Premium Gas Last Year

By Michael Hill

AAA says Americans wasted more than $2 billion last year pumping premium gas when regular would do — a difference of 40 to 50 cents a gallon.

“For a lot of us, we see the word premium and we think it means better. It doesn’t necessarily mean better,” said AAA Northeast Director of Public Affairs Cathleen Lewis.

The issue: ignoring a car’s manual that calls for regular gasoline.

“What we know is that 70 percent of vehicles need regular gas. Premium and regular, that means there’s a difference in the octane of the fuel. Your engine needs what it needs. If it doesn’t need premium gas, then your manual is going to tell you that,” Lewis said.

Peggy Kelly says she’s always used regular with good results.

Does her car take premium or regular?

“I’m honestly, I’m not sure. I believe it takes either,” she said.

She said she buys regular because it’s less expensive.

“I have no problems at all. I just reached over 100,000 miles and it’s been taking regular for quite a while,” she said.

Premium gas is usually for luxury and high performance cars. Ralph Bova of Florida drives a Lexus. He says he follows the manual and steers toward common sense at the pump.

“I buy Lexus, mid grade to regular and I get good mileage,” he said.

No engine troubles?

“None whatsoever,” he said.

A separate AAA study says it also matters where you buy gas — that it’s of good quality from a top tier, name-brand station.

“If the gas station next door has gas at $1.99 and somehow somebody next door has it for $1.50, there’s probably a reason for that,” Lewis said.

One SUV driver says he buys quality gas for his Chevy Tahoe.

Does he ever buy premium?

“No, I’ve never tried,” said Raymond. “The lower octane rating for regular gasoline is enough for this car and that’s it. People are fooled by premium gasoline. They don’t know the real importance of their car and the gasoline itself.”

The AAA study shows a little education about the grade of gasoline your vehicle takes could go a long way and save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of owning your vehicle.