Study: Americans Waste Billions on Premium Gasoline

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LEWISBURG -- Putting gasoline in our vehicles is a necessity, but are you paying more than you need to?

A new study found buying premium grade gas may be a waste of money.

Tammy Sinibildi filled up her Nissan Altima at Fuel On on Route 15 in Lewisburg. Regular gasoline there is $2.18 a gallon and that's what she is buying.

"It's cheaper. I have to drive farther to work and it's cheaper."

Sinibildi's boyfriend puts premium gasoline in his vehicle and tells her she should do the same. But she does not see the need.

"I think my car runs the same either way. I'm not going to waste the money on premium."

According to a recent study by AAA, Sinibildi is right. The study finds that American drivers waste more than $2 billion a year on premium gas.

"Most people do not need it," said Andy Ramirez at Kost Tire and Auto. "Probably 95 percent of the motoring public have no need for premium gasoline."

Ramirez is the lead mechanic at Kost Tire and Auto in Williamsport. He agrees with the AAA study.

"Today's vehicles are made to run as well as possible on no matter what you put in them. If you want to put the cheapest gasoline you can find, throw it off in there."

In fact, AAA's tests revealed there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that requires regular unleaded fuel.

Clair Grove of Selinsgrove agrees. He tried premium fuel once.

"There's a difference in price, but not in performance for me."

When it comes to figuring out what kind of gas you need for your car, AAA recommends you follow your owner's manual. It will tell you right here.

Some drivers have to use premium fuel. Carl Kizis needs it for his pickup truck.

"You can't put that cheap stuff in, it doesn't seem to run real good," Kizis said. "(Cheap gas) will make a ping like sometimes."

But according to AAA, unless your vehicle requires it, premium gasoline does not mean better gasoline.


  • bryce

    Technically this subject is more complicated and should not have a blanket mentality cast on it. Too many variables to explain here, so do your research with some trial and error if you really want to know the truth that fits your personal situation. Many people could be looking at higher maintenance costs if their vehicle does call for premium and they listen to this article at face value. Notice the sticker on your lawnmowers fuel tank that says “No E85”, and the $8/qt. cans of gas at the mower shops? Sam’s points are valid in my opinion. One thing besides an increase in MPG that eventually offsets the price difference is the overall cost of maintenance over a 5+ year period when things like oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, and extra carbon buildup come into play. I’ll run regular in a $500 bomber work car, but if I’m going to keep a good vehicle for a while?

  • Sam

    Do the Math

    But only after you have run a few tanks of Premium or the cheap gas.

    Miles divided by gallons used = MPG

    Now do the cost per mile math

    Cost per gallon divided by the MPG

    $2.85 divided by 15 MPG = .19 cents per mile

    For me the premium gets a lower cost per mile.

    • Sam's Teacher at Vo-Tech

      Sam—that’s fine, but your comparison is incomplete. While premium may “work” for you, we don’t know the mileage you get from regular gasoline or what you pay for it (we don’t use the term “cheap gas” here). Can you share for the class the MPG you got from regular gasoline and the price you paid so that we can see the difference? As it is, your example is incomplete. For your grade, you get and “I”. Remember for full credit you must show all of your work, not just an “answer”, so, until you complete the assignment, the “I” will remain ;)

    • John Mleczynski

      15 MPG? My 2001 Kia Rio gets 25 city / 30 highway on regular gas. I had a 1989 Cadillac Eldorado that got 15 MPG city, 4.5 Liter V8, lots of power but a gas hog. Your driving an expensive vehicle that requires expensive gas, your not saving money. Your trying to offset the cost of driving a tank and make it seem like your ahead of the game. Dump it for something else that will serve the purpose at a less costly level. Unless your well off; then you can afford to drive what you want, most people cant…

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