Mixing Isn’t Good At The Bar Or At The Gas Pump

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The price of fuel might give you the summer time blues, but don’t expect fuel blends to give you a lift.

Mixing ethanol blends and gasoline has become popular in some parts of the U.S. In other areas, the urge to mix gas based on price points and octane could be overwhelming. But, mixing graded portions of gas, such as premium and regular, is just a dollar in the tank. And, a dollar floating in liquid is useless.

At the pump, signs advertising premium are often illuminated above vehicles. And, for years, many believed that premium had to better. Why? For some it could be word association. Regular can sound so common and average. On the other hand, premium sounds superior. Naturally, some consumers might desire the octane with the more power word, but guess what? “Gas is gas,” says Michael J. Fox, Executive Director at Gasoline and Automotive Service Dealers of America based in Stanford, CT. If you’re putting premium in a tank that works best on regular, then “you’re paying more money for something that just isn’t necessary.”

Your car works best on the grade recommended in the owner’s manual. So premium gas won’t mean better performance for your car or more miles per gallon. If that Toyota (TM) calls for regular gas, then the engine in your car will perform well on regular. On the other hand, if your Toyota or Porsche requires premium, then a lower grade can result in a ping noise. In this case, cost cutting can’t work. And, ethanol blends should be avoided.

Some people try to mix their own fuels. Don’t. It’s a recipe for money loss. The spillage from changing grades or fuel types might cost you money from waste alone. The midrange gas provided at many stations serves this purpose. Let the professionals determine the blends. “The midrange is mixing those two [premium and regular] in a professional environment,” says Fox. “No one is going to mix it as well as a computer control, which you’re doing to accomplish a particular octane level.”

Yes, you might see a difference in your car’s performance based on brand or fuel type. For example, Exxon (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) might use different methods. (And, ethanol-based fuel carries warnings due to vehicle and emissions issues. While most gas in the U.S. includes a small percentage of ethanol, high levels can be dangerous. So, think twice if you’re at a station that allows high ethanol concentrations.) It might be all in your mind if you think your car is performing based on grade. Although, hey, a premium mind performs at A-level.


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