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Do I Need Detergent Gasoline?




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Not all brands of gasoline are priced the same, and if you’ve looked closely, you may have noticed that some of the more expensive brands boastfully claim to have added special detergents to their gasoline that help engines run better and longer.

That of course begs the question: Are these claims true? Do detergents really help make a car run better and longer? We posed that question to the service manager at Hume of Waterford, PA, a full service Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in PA, and here is what we learned.


They have the same basic components

The fuel from the world’s gas companies and filling stations comes from petroleum refineries. These refineries mostly work the same way in that they make a “base gas” and then add substances as dictated by the company they are making it for.

For example, Mobil Synergy gasoline is said to contain a significant amount of detergent to supposedly prevent buildup of carbon and other byproducts of combustion. This, of course, is claimed to make an engine last longer.


Marketing professionals get in the game

Major oil companies spend millions of dollars every year on radio, TV and internet ads to convince buyers that their premium-priced formulations are superior to the competition. I’m sure you’ve seen one or two of those ads featuring lab-coated scientists and dirty engine parts…

Fortunately for consumers, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and its counterparts in other developed countries have rules about what oil companies can say. There is supposed to be some factual basis behind any advertising claims, though the truth is stretched a little sometimes.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro engine, Gen-6

So does the higher-priced gas keep my engine cleaner?

Most of the higher-priced gasolines claim to have added detergents that keep the vehicle’s engine cleaner than competing fuels without them. They explain that the added couple of pennies you pay at each fill-up will pay off in a huge way down the road, mainly in the form of reduced repair costs; however, Toyota chief engineer Randy Stephens isn’t fully convinced by these engine protection claims.

Fuel experts at Toyota continually study the effects of different gas brands on the company’s engines, and this is what Stephens had to say about their findings:

“Honestly, in the 10 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen one come back with any sort of deposit issue.”

This of course doesn’t mean the marketing claims of gas companies are outrageous. What it really means is that the issues expressed are likely smaller than they would want you to believe.


Final Remarks

Like most Americans, you probably just look for for the cheapest gasoline and wonder it will get the job done with causing problems. All you have to do is make sure you buy the proper octane level for your car and keep in mind that the added ingredients in the higher-priced gas aren’t 100% necessary.

On the other hand, if you feel that the extra few cents of additional detergent and other additives are worth it, then treat yourself — they certainly wouldn’t hurt! We hope this article puts your mind more at ease.

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