HEATHROW, Fla. -- It should come as no surprise to fuel retailers that many consumers view gasoline as a commodity. But a recent study by AAA finds that Top Tier-certified gasoline, which contains detergent additives, actually has a measurable effect on the cleanliness and operation of a vehicle’s engine.
Several of the top automakers created the Top Tier gasoline standard in 2004 for detergent content. The purpose was to ensure fuel quality and vehicle performance as engine technology advanced. This was at a time when detergent levels in gasoline widely varied, and engines getting no detergent suffered.
More than a decade later, about 65% of fuel sold in the United States and Canada is Top Tier certified, with more than 30 large chains participating in the program, representing 35% of retail sites.
What follows are a few ways Top Tier fuel is making a difference ...
1. Baby boomers more likely
According to AAA research, 63% of drivers believe gasoline quality varies between retailers. However, only 12% buy a particular gasoline because of its detergent-additive package. Instead, location and convenience is the primary driver for gas station choice at 75%, followed by price (73%). Baby boomers are more likely to buy gasoline with a detergent than millennials by a nearly 10-point margin.
4. Removes or reduces carbon deposits
Switching from gasoline without the additive package to Top Tier gasoline could remove or reduce carbon deposits on engine components. These deposits can cause engine problems suchas rough idling, starting issues in cold weather and hesitation upon acceleration.
5. Competitive price
Despite containing an additive package, the price of Top Tier brands over a 12-month time span averaged only about 3 cents per gallon more than non-Top Tier brands, according to AAA.
Fuel retailers do pay an annual license fee and field an additional cost to sell Top Tier gasoline, estimated in tenths of a cent. For high-volume retailers, this could add up quickly.