The “more expensive” fuels will actually save you money! Why?
When you have two different brand gas stations across the street from one another, you’ll probably be more inclined to use the less expensive of the two, right? Unfortunately, doing so means you’re putting excess water and alcohol into your vehicle’s fuel tank. The less expensive gas stations increase the water and alcohol content in their fuel in order to decrease the price. So you’re saving a little bit of money now, but it’s going to cost you in the long run.
Alcohols found in gasoline, including ethanol and benzene, don’t burn efficiently in an automobile engine, thus leaving carbon deposits throughout the fuel system. These deposits build up over time and make the system less efficient, thus requiring more gasoline per mile to run the vehicle. So now your gas mileage is dropping, and you’re stopping at the station more frequently….and your gasoline expenses each month are slowly climbing.
The first step is to start using the better brands of gasoline: those that contain less alcohol. Always use the lowest octane level (“regular”), as the higher octane fuels contain more alcohols also. If you want to see just how much alcohol the different brands put into their fuel mixtures, request a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), which are public record, from the stations and compare the levels of ethanol, benzene, etc. Renee Lyons, office manager of Lyons Auto Repair, did a study for a university project three years ago, in which she made this comparison. At the time, Chevron and Union 76 ranked the best quality mix, while the inexpensive stations such as AM/PM and Beacon ranked the worst. Other brands ranked somewhere between these extremes.
So now that you’re using better fuel, you still need to get those nasty carbon deposits out of your vehicle’s fuel system. There are three procedures that should usually be done together that can remedy this condition: Tune up, Induction Service, and Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor.
Tune Up – Carbon deposits and other debris can build up on components such as spark plugs, fuel filters, etc. Performing a complete tune up every 60,000 miles (replacing spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap and rotor [if equipped], p.c.v. valve, fuel filter, and air filter) will keep your system functioning properly and allow longer lifespan for your engine.
Induction Service – This is a chemical flushing procedure for the fuel and intake systems. It specifically breaks up those carbon deposits and flushes them out of the system, increasing gas mileage and allowing the vehicle to run better (the average vehicle that has this procedure gains 2-4 MPG).
Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor – The Mass Air Flow Sensor usually lies behind the air filter, and if the air filter is not regularly replaced, dirt and debris go past the filter into the sensor, clogging it up and skewing its readings. When the sensor gets dirty, it miscalculates elevation readings, thus changing the air/fuel mixture that goes into the engine. One vehicle recently thought it was sitting at almost 8,000 feet of elevation (actual elevation: approximately 850 feet). Having this sensor properly cleaned at normal tune up mileage intervals will keep the sensor functioning properly and maintain a proper air/fuel mixture into the engine, thus supporting higher gas mileage.
Remember, in all things, you get what you pay for. Cheap gas is cheap for a reason. Take care of your automobile it will take care of you!
Did You Know?
Between November and March, oil companies modify their gasoline blends to increase the alcohol content. This is an attempt to counteract the negative effect of the colder weather on the combustion process of the engine. Unfortunately, this means greater carbon deposits and decreased gas mileage. Again, stick to the major brands and the lower octane fuels, and keep your car properly tuned up so as to keep that extra carbon from taking over.