Energy Economy

Drivers Waste $2.1 Billion a Year on Premium Gas

Douglas A. McIntyre

Premium gasoline is supposed to be for high-performance cars. It turns out that many people have mistaken when they need it rather than regular. According to AAA, Americans waste $2.1 billion a year buying premium they don’t need.

The organization found:

American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.

“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel.”

If only people would read the manuals that come with their cars.

The AAA Fuel Gauge shows exactly how large the difference between premium and regular is. Monday, the average price of regular nationwide was $2.21, while premium was $2.26. In California, the average price of premium has risen to $3.00, against regular at $2.76 a gallon.

Fortunately, $2.1 billion spread across tens of millions of drivers is not very much per car driven.