If you’ve been avoiding “off-brand” gas stations (like Delta in New Jersey and Liberty in Maryland) because you’re afraid of what their cheaper product might do to your car, it’s time to stop.
There’s no good reason not to buy generic gas and save money.
The only difference between the products is that name-brand stations like Mobil and Shell may put extra engine-cleaning additives in theirs.
But, automotive engineering experts at AAA told us, using generic gas won’t harm your engine in any way, and it has its own cleaning additives:
“While it may seem generic gas is too good to be true and not the best option for your vehicle, unbranded fuel should not damage an engine,” AAA said in an email.
“Even ‘unbranded’ fuel is required to meet legal requirements for RVP, ethanol percentage, octane, detergent content and more. In many cases, the local unbranded gasoline is actually supplied by a major oil company, but simply not sold under their name.”
In 2007, ABC News ran a test to find differences between gasoline from Mobil (name-brand) and Liberty (generic). Bob Crawford at the Maryland Fuel Testing Laboratory told them, “By and large, it’s one and the same…You will find results that almost mirror one another.”
He added, “There are going to be slight variations — but gasoline is gasoline,” and generic fuel “will do no harm at all” to a car.
In 2012, the fuels market manager for Shell told Edmunds, “We really believe that are differences in fuels. We can see it, feel it and measure it.”
But Consumer Reports comes down on the side of generic gas. In a post on common fuel economy myths, it debunks the idea that “no-name gas stations offer lower-quality fuel,” writing:
Independent stations usually buy their fuel from larger, name-brand oil companies, so it’s not much different from what you’d get for a higher price down the road. Off-brand gasoline is sometimes formulated without additives designed to clean the engine, but your car should run fine on that gas.
So there you have it: If you don’t want to pay the extra money for the extra additives, go ahead, and don’t worry about your engine.
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