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    AAA: Motorists 'Wasting' $2.1B on Premium Fuel

    Research finds no benefits in upgrading to 93 octane.

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  — In the past 12 months, 16.5 million U.S. drivers unnecessarily filled up their tanks with premium-grade fuel instead of the recommended regular fuel, wasting more than $2.1 billion. In this 12-month time period, premium gasoline was used in U.S. vehicles more than 270 million times, AAA research revealed.

    In AAA’s testing of regular 87-octane fuel and 93-octane premium fuel in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, it found no benefit for consumers using premium gasoline in vehicle that only requires regular 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.”

     According to AAA research, 70 percent of U.S. drivers currently own a vehicle that requires regular gasoline, 16 percent of vehicles require premium fuel, 10 percent need mid-grade gasoline, and 4 percent use an alternative energy fuel source.

    “When it comes to gasoline, ‘premium’ does not mean ‘better’ if your vehicle doesn’t require it,” said Nielsen. “Drivers looking to upgrade to a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should save their money and select a top-tier gasoline, not a higher-octane one.”

    To calculate the total annual cost of using premium gasoline when not required by the vehicle manufacturer, AAA conducted a comprehensive analysis that included a U.S. consumer survey, Federal Highway Administration data, per-gallon costs of premium gasoline and regular gasoline and the average number of fill-ups annually. 

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