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Consumers waste $2.1 billion on premium fuel

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - New research conducted by AAA finds consumers are wasting money on premium gas, if their car is designed to run on regular.

The club found that premium gas did not increase horsepower or fuel economy and did not reduce emissions or clean engines any better than regular gas.

16.5 million U.S. drivers admit to using premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation in the last year.

AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers.

After the tests, 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."

To understand the magnitude of the issue, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand what type of fuel their vehicles require and the frequency at which they upgrade to premium fuel. Results reveal:

  • 70% of U.S. drivers currently own a vehicle that requires regular gasoline, 16% drive vehicles that require premium fuel, the remaining 14% own a vehicle that requires mid-grade gasoline.
  • In the last year, 16.5 million U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium-grade gasoline in their vehicle at least once. On average, those that upgraded to premium gasoline did so at least once per month.
  • In the last year, U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium gasoline in their vehicle more than 270 million times.

"When it comes to gasoline, ‘premium' does not mean ‘better' if your vehicle doesn't require it," continued 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."

For additional information about premium fuel, including the full test report and fact sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.