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Fuels

4 Things Customers Want to Know About Fuel Quality

Photograph courtesy of Source North America

For many consumers, a fuel’s octane rating is their primary measure of both a fuel’s quality and its value. But there are lesser-known aspects of fuel quality—such as additives in fuel and the condition and capabilities of the fueling system equipment—that also provide value to consumers. If customers understand the benefits of additives and strong fueling system maintenance practices, it can motivate them to choose one station’s fuel over another’s. Here are answers to 4 frequently asked questions that will help consumers understand and appreciate the value of high-quality fuel.  


Curb water intrusion for quality assurance

Strong water management practices are key to maintaining fuel quality. Equipment manufacturers are addressing the importance of watertight components and corrosion prevention in new product releases. Contact a Source representative to learn about new equipment solutions that help prevent water intrusion and prevent corrosion.


Q: What is detergent gasoline and how is it different from the octane rating?

A: Detergent gasoline contains additives that help prevent the buildup of “gunk” on engine components, including fuel injectors and intake valves. The minimum octane rating for a fuel represents the fuel’s ability to resist knocking during combustion. The Federal Trade Commission reports that higher octane fuels do not benefit consumers unless the vehicle’s owner’s manual specifically recommends using a higher octane fuel. Higher octane fuel is not designed to help engines run cleaner.

Q: How is the level of detergent additives in fuel at gas stations determined?

A: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the minimum level of cleaning detergent additives for all octane grades that are required to protect against the build-up of engine deposits. However, this detergent level is much lower than what many automotive manufacturers recommend to maintain performance and prevent engine damage (EPA regulations are created to control air quality, not promote engine performance or longevity).

In 2004, automakers and engine manufacturers established the “Top Tier” detergent fuel program, a proprietary standard that calls for higher levels of detergents and restricted metallic content than the EPA standard. Fuel marketers who wish to sell Top Tier gasoline or diesel voluntarily join the Top Tier program and pay a fee to be an approved supplier of Top Tier fuel.

Q: How can consumers tell if a station sells Top Tier fuel?

A: Stations that are approved to sell Top Tier fuel must prominently display the Top Tier logo. A list of licensed retail brands that sell Top Tier fuel is available at toptiergas.com.

Q: What other station practices impact fuel quality?

A: There are several in-tank conditions—high water levels, excessive particulate and fuel that has completed phase separation—that also dramatically affect fuel quality. Stations that uphold strong maintenance and monitoring practices help protect consumers from these damaging fuel quality issues. Regular tank inspections and changing fuel dispenser filters at prescribed intervals will help prevent motorists from dispensing poor-quality fuel. 

Source North America regularly includes tips for fuel site operators in its newsletter, SourceLine. Sign up here to receive the newsletter.

This post is sponsored by Source North America

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