Is it worth it to pay for premium gas?

We've all wondered this at the gas pump!

US Gas Prices Rise For 35 Consecutive Days
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

We’ve all been there before. You pull up to the gas station to refuel, but before you pump, you must decide if you want regular or premium gas.

You may wonder if the extra cost of the “Top Tier” gas is worth it, or if it’s just a ploy for the gas companies to suck a few more dollars out of your pocket.

According to a recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), the higher price of premium gas may actually be a worthwhile use of your hard-earned cash.

gas pump photo
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

So what separates “Top Tier” gas from regular gas? Top Tier was developed back in 2004 to go beyond the minimum standard for detergent additives.

These increased additives help protect engines from carbon buildup and deposits on the intake valves, which can lead to problems such as rough idle, acceleration hesitation, knocking/pinging and reduced fuel economy.

The test found that on the whole, Top Tier gas was successful in preventing harmful carbon deposits from ending up on engines as well as reducing intake valve deposits.

To be specific, Top Tier gasoline had 19 times fewer carbon deposits on injectors, intake valves, and in the combustion chamber when compared to regular gasoline.

To conduct the test, the lab operated an engine continuously for 100 hours on a cycle, mimicking 4,000 miles of real use. They used six fuels, randomly selected and split among three basic gasoline sources and three Top Tier sources.

gasoline pump photo
Getty Images | Warren Little

If you’re still not convinced, the study also found that the price increase over regular gas was nominal. Based on an analysis of gas prices over a 12-month period, the study found only a three cent price difference between regular gas and Top Tier gas.

Wondering where you can find Top Tier gas?

Top Tier is currently offered by the following retailers: 76, Aloha Petroleum, Amoco, ARCO, Beacon, BP, Break Time, Cenex, Chevron, CITGO, Conoco, Co-op, Costco, CountryMark, Diamond Shamrock, Entec, Esso, Express, Exxon, Holiday, Kwik Star Stores, Kwik Trip, Mahalo, MFA, Mobil, Ohana Fuels, Petro-Canada, Phillips 66, PUMA, QT, Quik Trip, Road Ranger, Shamrock, Shell / Shell V-Power, Sinclair Standard, SuperAmerica, SuperFuels, Tempo, Texaco, Tri-Par, and Valero.

[h/t Consumer Reports]

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