This Is the No. 1 Mistake Drivers Make When Filling Up

gasoline
Photo by Alexandru Nika / Shutterstock.com

Each year, American drivers waste a collective $2.1 billion purchasing gas that is a little too good for them.

An AAA report from earlier this year found that these drivers pay for high-octane gas even when it is not required or recommended for their vehicle.

While you should buy premium gas if it’s required, AAA found that the added benefit generally doesn’t outweigh the higher cost when premium gas is only recommended.

At the time the report was issued, John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, said:

“There’s no question that higher-octane premium fuel has the potential to boost a vehicle’s fuel economy and performance. However, engines have to be calibrated to require that fuel to see the full benefit.”

In other words, if premium gas is recommended rather than required for your car, the vehicle can’t take full advantage of the benefits of premium gas.

So, AAA’s recommendation is to always use premium gas if it’s required, but to buy regular gas if premium gas is only recommended.

If your car makes a pinging or knocking noise on regular gas, however, you should have it checked out by an honest and qualified mechanic and probably switch to premium gas, AAA says.

Premium versus Top Tier gas

While premium gas probably does not make sense for your car, Top Tier gas might offer a benefit.

Regular, premium and Top Tier gas are three different types of fuel.

Premium gas has a higher-octane rating than regular gas, while Top Tier gas has more detergent additives than federal standards require. Research conducted by AAA last year found that Top Tier gas keeps engines up to 19 times cleaner — meaning less contamination with engine deposits.

To learn more about the benefits of Top Tier gas, check out “AAA Urges Drivers to Pay Extra for Top Tier Gas.”

Cutting your cost of gasoline

Whichever type of gas you choose, know that there are ways to cut the cost of fueling up.

One overlooked way to save is to buy discounted gift cards that you can use at your favorite fill-up station. As we have explained:

If you know exactly where you plan to fill up the tank the next few times, it’s probably worth investing in a discounted gift card for your favorite gas retailer.

Discount gift card marketplaces such as Cardpool.com and Raise.com sell gift cards for Shell, 76, BP, Chevron and other retailers for less than their face value.

For more ways to save, check out “5 Easy Ways to Cut the Rising Cost of Gas.”

What has your experience been with premium versus regular gas? Share with us by commenting below or on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Things That Prove Cheaper Isn’t Always Better
7 Things That Prove Cheaper Isn’t Always Better

These purchases can end up costing you more if you try to go the cheap route.

8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress
8 Products to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Current events have you feeling anxious? These Amazon products can take the edge off.

What’s the Difference Between FICO and VantageScore Credit Scores?
What’s the Difference Between FICO and VantageScore Credit Scores?

There are lots of credit scores out there, but if you’re keeping an eye on your credit, here’s the one to watch.

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean
9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean

We’ve rounded up some of the best products for cleaning your bathroom, kitchen and every other room.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.