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Old 02-24-2012, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Northern MN
3,869 posts, read 12,594,961 times
Reputation: 3548

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It's comical, we have 2 guys talking about fuel from the 60's hello it's 2012.
Today's fuel does not compare to those antiquated fuels.

"The base fuel is the same at all stations in your region, and the Top Tier program is primarily about additive formulation and concentration."

"So, yes, if you can get a Top Tier additive package and fortify your discount gasoline, you could absolutely make a Top Tier compliant mix."



"The base fuel is the same at all stations in your region, and the Top Tier program is primarily about additive formulation and concentration."

"+1 all gas is nearly identical.In our area one pipeline brings most of the gasoline From Chicago to Michigan "

"The gas itself is basically the same but the ADDITIVE package is NOT the amount, type, and quality varies widely"".

"PEA is the best gasoline detergent you can get. Cleans the best and DOES not leave any of its own residue behind during the cleaning process like most other gas detergents do a pretty important fact."

"The chemical name is PEA developed by Chevron, the trade name is
Techron. But they sell PEA to others."

"After XOM acquired Mobil-the Mobil part of the gasoline business disappeared. XOM now sells the name Mobil to anyone who wants to buy it and stick it on their gas station. Mobil station owners are free to purchase any gasoline they desire and sell it. I do not know where you got the information you posted, but it is completely false"

"Yesterday my borther and I saw something very oood at our local Shell gas station..... There was a United Oil gas truck filling up their underground tanks"

"I saw a tanker truck dropping fuel at the Shell station near my office last this past Monday. It did not have a Shell logo on the tanker, and the driver was not wearing a Shell uniform or even a Shell hat. The tanker did have the name of some private label trucking company. There is no way to know for sure exactly what gas was in his truck or if there were any Shell additives in it."


"I've been in the petroleum hauling business for over ten years now. We haul exclusively to one customer from various oil terminals in the Virginia/North Carolina area. I've been authorized to load at over a dozen terminals in a 300 mile radius in recent years. I occasionally still drive, but my normal job is dispatching ten tanker trucks to our area stations.

What I can tell you about "branded" gasoline is this: Sometimes it ain't what you think it is. And the additives which are put into the branded gasolines are added in such small amounts it may or may not have the advertised effects on your engine/fuel system.

Of course the states regulate the octane advertised on the pumps, but no agency (to my knowledge) ever checks for the additives which are purported to be present in the branded gasolines.

It then becomes possible for branded stations to sell gasoline which doesn't have the additives that the signs and commercials say that it has. This can occur when the additive injector system fails at the loading terminal, or when the terminal runs out of an additive.

Additives in gasoline are just like additives in oil; they are "added" to the base product. All gas begins as pretty much the same stuff. Regular unlead and premium for all oil terminals in a given area comes up the same pipeline. We pull off of Colonial Pipeline in this area, and a small bit off a branch pipeline called Plantation Pipeline. When Citgo, Chevron, Conoco, Amoco, Texaco, Shell, and the rest fill their huge terminal storage tanks the gas comes off the same pipeline at pretty much the same time. There is one exception: Amoco Ultimate Premium is refined an extra step, and it comes up the pipeline all by itself. Other company's 93 octane premium fuels (I don't know anything about Sunoco fuels as they aren't distributed in my area) are the same before the additives are injected into the gasoline when it is being loaded onto the transport tanker trucks.

There are a couple of different octanes out there for what can be called "premium" gasoline. Read the pump. If it's 92, that ain't bad. 93 is better. If it's 91 I'd definitely pass. The lower octane premiums are simply cut a bit with regular unleaded. That's also where "midgrade" or "plus" gasoline comes from; it's mixed as it goes on the tanker truck--35 percent premium and 65 percent regular in most cases.

The quality of gasoline in the pipeline must meet certain standards, of course. This doesn't mean it will always be exactly the same, however.

It is possible that your car will respond well to one particular company's additive. It's possible, but I think if you really tested the notion well you'd find other explanations for why your performance and/or mileage was up/down based on your choice of gasolines. I do know that Chevron's Techron works when I pour 12 ounces into my car's tank, but I don't know if the concentration of Techron in Chevron's gasoline is high enough to really do much. Think about it: If that stuff is actually worth fifty cents an ounce, and the recommended dose is about one ounce per gallon of fuel in your tank, it would run the cost of the Chevron branded gasoline up way too much to be competitive. Unless, of course, there are only trace amounts of the Techron in the branded gas, which is the case.

When you get into unbranded gasolines you're in a "whole 'nother world." Unbranded gasoline can come from any terminal out there. It's the cheap gas of the day. This doesn't mean that the gas is no good, it simply means that if Conoco/Phillips has the best gasoline price of the day, it's a safe bet that's where your local Racetrack, Sheetz, Wilco/Hess, or fill in the blank got their fuel from.

Most of us cannot tell any real difference between Shell branded or Chevron branded gasoline and what our local chain convienience (unbranded) stores sell. And that's not surprising since the base fuel is exactly the same stuff. Shell, Chevron, and unbranded gasolines all comes up the pipeline at the same time; it's the
same stuff. Only the miniscule additive package makes it any different.

We've all heard "Don't buy _______ gas because they put water in it." This is absurd for more reasons that I've got time to sit here and type out. But the most glaring flaw in this twisted logic is that gasoline and water don't mix. The water settles to the bottom of the tank. The sumps are set at 12 inches off the floors of oil terminal holding tanks and water checks are made daily (and required by law). It's nearly impossible for water to be loaded onto a gasoline tanker truck and subsequently delivered to the customer.

If you do find water in a retailer's gasoline, it got there by leaking into his ground tanks. This does happen, of course. Most newer stations have Veeder-Root tank monitoring systems these days. This system will sound an alarm if water is present in the ground tank.

So basically I just shop price for my personal gasoline. There's a chain in this area called "GO-Mart" which tends to keep the prices down. I rarely buy a full tank of gas from any branded retailer anymore. While the additives that the big gasoline retailers use are only used in very, very small amounts, they
are in there. And this (along with national advertising campaigns) runs the cost of the branded gasolines up. And since I can't see any difference in my vehicles I can't justify the higher prices of the branded gasolines.

If I could recommend purchasing gas from any retailer, I would say go to the retailer that moves the
most gasoline. His tanks are probably the cleanest. His gasoline is probably the freshest off the pipeline. His ground sump and dispenser filters are going to be changed much more often. Since his business plan is obviously to sell maximum volume, he'll be meticulous in keeping filters maintained, and he'll have a fuel tank monitoring system (the Veeder-Root system mentioned earlier) which will alert him if water is ever present in his tanks."

"The "essential" additives are put in at the various refineries. What gets injected as it goes onto the tanker truck are the propreitary additives--such as Techron, V-power, and such. As I've mentioned, this stuff in used in some very small amounts--probably just enough to make it legal to claim that "it's in there." I will admit again that I don't know the actual concentration of the prop additives but the ppm would probably be pretty low as "less than a gallon" of prop additive goes into 8500 gallons of gasoline.

The convenience stores and unbranded gasoline stations simply buy from the best "rack price" of the day. This fuel does have the required detergent amounts in it, but not the proprietary additives (Techron, V-power, etc). In other words if we purchase Motiva (Shell/Texaco merge) "unbranded" gasoline it's not going to be injected with Shell's or Texaco's prop additive; it'll be plain vanilla gasoline.

In our area, Conoco/Philips and Marathon/Ashland have been switching leads for the last two months as far as best rack price. Since we carry unbranded gasoline, we either load the Conoco or the Marathon unbranded variations. This simply means that no propreitary additive is injected as the fuel goes onto the truck but the essential additives required by the government will still be there since they are imparted to it as it's being refined.

But once again, the unbranded gasoline seems to be as good as any of the branded stuff in spite of the single proprietary additive not being there. Some folks actually report better mileage from unbranded gasolines--but as I've mentioned elsewhere it's nearly impossible to scientifically prove with one car outside a laboratory environment which proprietary additives work and which do not; too many variables to factor out"

Fuels and Fuel Additives: Gasoline and Diesel - Bob Is The Oil Guy



and as mentioned the only difference it the additive package.

Posted: 05/23/2011
  • By: Michael Rosenfield (http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/about_us/staff/michael-rosenfield - broken link)
(WXYZ) - When you fill up your car with gas, do you always use the same brand of gasoline?
It does matter.
When we pump gas, we are putting more than just fuel into our vehicles. We are also putting in detergent that has been added to keep our engines cleaner.
Detergent in gas prevents carbon buildup which can impair engine efficiency, increase emissions and decrease gas mileage.
Working with our partners at the Scripps Howard News Service, we collected one-gallon samples of regular unleaded and premium fuel from eight national brands across three states.
We took our samples to Paragon Laboratories, an independent, certified testing facility in Livonia to find out if all brands are created equal when it comes to detergent.

Paragon performed what is called unwashed gum tests, which are the same test automakers use when spot-checking to see if gas meets their standards.
Scientists boiled each sample and measured the residue left behind. The more residue, the more detergent and that could equal better gas mileage.
In our test of regular unleaded gas, Exxon had the highest level of additives with 20 milligrams of residue per 100 milliliters.
BP and Shell followed close behind, while Marathon, Citgo, Pilot and Speedway samples each had less than half the amount of detergent found in the top three brands.
You pay a premium for gas that is 92 or 93 octane, and in our test, Shell leads the pack with 31 milligrams, followed by BP and Exxon.
We found the lowest levels of additives at Speedway, Mobile, Citgo, Marathon and Pilot.
Pilot's 8.8 milligrams is three times less than Shell, but in a statement, company Vice President Alan Wright told us, "Our gas blends meet EPA requirements. We don't put in extra."
And a spokesperson for Citgo said the company ensures quality through random checks.


Some stations do not have dispensers with the capability of blending the premium and regular, so at these stations the midgrade is blended as it is loaded onto the tanker truck.



Detergent in gas helps the engine run cleaner and smoother so just how much is in there?

TOP TIER Gasoline Retailers:

USA
76 Stations
Aloha Petroleum
Chevron
Conoco
CountryMark
Entec Stations
Exxon
Holiday Stationstores, Inc.
Kwik Trip / Kwik Star
MFA Oil Co.
Mileage Stations
Mobil
Phillips 66
Quik Trip
Rebel Oil
Road Ranger
Severson Oil
Shell
Texaco
The Somerset Refinery, Inc.
Tri-Par Oil Co.
U.S. Oil

Last edited by snofarmer; 02-24-2012 at 10:45 AM..
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Northern MN
3,869 posts, read 12,594,961 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PullMyFinger View Post
BP Amoco runs their Ultimate Premium fuel in a separate pipeline and they run a swab/pig through the line every week to keep it clean.

Ultimate is the best fuel there is because it's the cleanest.
Same pipe line they just use a pig to keep it separate from the rest.
Imagine the cost just for a pipe line to carry one type of gas from one MFG

Amoco Ultimate Premium is refined an extra step, and it comes up the pipeline all by itself.
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:54 PM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,790 posts, read 12,748,803 times
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I only buy Shell Gas, unless I am somewhere unfamiliar and then'll use Exxon or Chevron.

I'm pretty sure those tanker trucks have different sections, so seeing one stopping at a "thrifty" gas station wouldn't bug me.

Shell seems to get the nod from a lot of manufacturers as being their preferred choice. I use to swear by Amoco, but now they are BP and I just can't buy their gas after the gulf spill.

Although now, lots of Sunoco stations are popping up around here and they are the fuel of choice for a couple of racing series. Of course I know it isn't the same, but I have tried a tank here and there. I really wish someone offered 94 (or even 93.5) octane like they used to down here, but 93 is the highest that can be easily obtained.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:00 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
1,532 posts, read 2,887,862 times
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The Detroit 3 carmakers have Chevron trucked to their testing grounds to test their cars for pollution, mpg, and performance, because the Techron additive is so effective in getting the best scores.

Chevron gasoline is not available in the Detroit area, even though other Top Tier gasolines are. I personally use Shell, and there is Chevron or Texaco available here in San Antonio, but there are no stations for miles around my house. If there was a Chevron or Texaco close by, that's what I would use.

http://www.chevron.com/products/flash/big_three_v4.swf

The additives in the Top Tier gasolines make a BIG difference!

The pennies you save by using cheap gas will eventually cost you big bucks in the long run!
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:52 AM
 
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Ok. We've already established that all gas stations get their gasoline from same place. What some of you do not understand is the ADDITIVES that each company decides to put into their gasoline before its delivered to their gas stations is what makes a difference. Some additives end up deluting gasoline, adding too much of certain additives can cause lower gas mileage, etc. It's not rocket science to do a little research online and see what some of those additives do to the vehicle mileage and performance different than others.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:54 AM
 
35,121 posts, read 38,186,389 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernBelleInUtah View Post
Chevron, Shell, Exxon or whatever 7-Eleven or my grocery sells - any real difference in quality? Any impact on my car's engine if I buy the same grade anywhere?

I need mid-grade and it's getting pretty expensive at my regular Chevron. Tempted to go to the grocery that has gas.

It all comes out of the same rack just different additives according to different companies that sell it.
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:42 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,216,965 times
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As I've posted before, I keep meticulous records of my fuel economy, hand-calculated at every fillup. I buy fuel at numerous different branded and unbranded locations. The ONLY significant difference in fuel economy that I've noted over the years that could be attributed to the fuel itself is the ethanol content. Put simply, the higher the percentage of ethanol, the bigger reduction in fuel economy I observed. I've also been driving fuel-injected vehicles since the 1980's when they became pretty much standard fare. In hundreds of thousands of miles of driving, I've never had an issue with fouled injectors--and I've never used any aftermarket additives to clean injectors. I have to conclude that most of the "hype" about detergents and injector cleaners, etc. is just a marketing ploy to try to differentiate one company's gasoline or additives from a competitor's.
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Old 03-04-2012, 12:41 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,675 posts, read 53,857,218 times
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Wow, what an interesting thread. Thanks to those who wrote about my particular area. I have used Chevron for years, closest station to my house, but the prices are just so high now. However, if I foul up my engine with cheaper gas, what have I really saved? I would have to drive a long way to find any Wal-Marts with pumps. So I guess you have answered my question and I'll keep on buying from Chevron.

Thank God that this car can use mid-grade gas, unlike my last one which required the top grade. I know I could have blended some mid grade in when i bought gas, but I just couldn't keep up with all that calculation.
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Old 03-04-2012, 12:54 PM
 
10,914 posts, read 41,456,827 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
As I've posted before, I keep meticulous records of my fuel economy, hand-calculated at every fillup. I buy fuel at numerous different branded and unbranded locations. The ONLY significant difference in fuel economy that I've noted over the years that could be attributed to the fuel itself is the ethanol content. Put simply, the higher the percentage of ethanol, the bigger reduction in fuel economy I observed. I've also been driving fuel-injected vehicles since the 1980's when they became pretty much standard fare. In hundreds of thousands of miles of driving, I've never had an issue with fouled injectors--and I've never used any aftermarket additives to clean injectors. I have to conclude that most of the "hype" about detergents and injector cleaners, etc. is just a marketing ploy to try to differentiate one company's gasoline or additives from a competitor's.
So your total experience here is based upon all those miles you've driven in what ... 10 vehicles? 20 vehicles? 30 vehicles?

I've been driving diesel vehicles in the same region of the country as you, jazz ... since the late 1960's ... and have encountered huge variations of the fuel BTU/lb as well as the fuel composition which plugged up injector nozzles.
Similarly, I've been driving FI cars starting with mid 1960's mechanically fuel injected M-B's, later in Alfa-Romeos (SPICA injected), and BMW's (Kugelfisher injected) ... and have seen huge variations in the make-up of the fuels, with resulting clogged injectors as well as wear/damage to mechanical fuel injection delivery pumps.

With the introduction of electronic fuel injection systems, widespread in the 1970's across all the cars that ran D-jetronic Bosch systems, or later multi-point FI systems across the entire industry ... I've seen the results of poor fuel mixes. It got so bad for some cars that there were service procedures developed that were pretty invasive to deal with the resulting by-products affecting how vehicles ran (badly). A typical example would be the service procedure that BMW adopted for walnut-shell blasting of the back faces of intake valves in their cars. Or the introduction of FI system cleaning machines which circulate a cleaning solution into the fuel injectors and return lines to filter out the garbage that's accumulated in the system.

My point here is that while you, jazzl ... have seen your good service on a relatively few vehicles ...

Is that I spent 35+ years in the Denver marketplace dealing with driveability issues in FI vehicles (gas and diesel). I saw hundreds of vehicles through my shop where injectors were plugged up; sometimes we could clean them out to satisfactory performance with a fuel system cleaner ... Lubro-Moly used to have an injection system cleaner we'd run the diesel cars on, for example ... or the original formulation BG44K in a tank of fuel. There were a lot of times where we couldn't get them cleaned out enough to run properly. Some of my competitors in the biz wouldn't even try to clean out injectors because of the mixed results they'd get with them; I recall two shops in Denver that had 55 gallon drums filled with Bosch gasoline injectors taken out of service; why they kept them, I don't know but they hit the jackpot when those "cores" became a valuable item for remanufacturing at a later time. Significantly, I visited with the owners of many other shops at industry seminars where we shared our common problems of driveability complaints and how we dealt with them. So my cumulative data base of fuel related problems in the area extends to many thousands of vehicles and many hundreds of multiples of miles driven than you've ever encountered ... especially when you take into account the municipal, industrial, and commercial fleet vehicles that I was in contact with.

More significantly, however, is today's fuels and their variations. You see, I still get to call on more retail auto/diesel shops, municipal fleet shops, trucking company fleet shops, and other commercial/professional vehicle operators/shops in a week than you'll see in a lifetime, and one of the big issues I see consistently in these shops are driveability complaints. While many vehicles are having electronics/sensor/wiring issues, there's also a fair number that have plugged up injectors that require cleaning or replacement. At today's cost for replacement, it's worthwhile (IMO) to try cleaning.

In my own experience with my F-250 Powerstroke and Dodge TurboCummins, I've picked up more crappy loads of fuel than ever in recent years. Lucas Fuel Injection cleaner is a mainstay for my operations, and I use it on an "on condition" basis. If my trucks start running poorly coincidentally with a new load of fuel, they get some added before the running condition deteriorates to a point where it's really annoying ... not to mention hard starting, poor idling, or lowered fuel economy. Same thing with my FI gasoline cars ... MB, BMW, AlfaRomeo ... a "bad" load of fuel calls for an immediate treatment of the fuel to stave off worse problems.

I think there's been a fundamental misconception on this thread of what is gasoline. It's not a single liquid, but a blend of various volatile fractions that are formulated to meet certain functional and legal requirements. The way to look at this ... a huge oversimplification, but for expediency on this thread ... is to understand that the functionality and legal requirements are set as standards without specifying how they will be met.

Unlike a product like water, H2O, which has a very specific molecular structure and can be specified as to it's purity ... gasoline can be formulated by a refinery to be whatever they want it to be made from. There's many distallates/fractions that go into the liquid, and the only requirements are that once it comes to you from the retailer, that it be able to perform as specified at the time of delivery. The refinery producing the retail product can blend as they see fit to meet those specifications ... and they do blend with an eye toward who they are producing the product for. I'm not going to turn this thread into a chemistry lesson, but the point is that "gasoline" is a blended liquid fuel comprised of many different volatile chemicals which all have different levels of heat energy/lb, and other characteristics. Some deliver a more rapid flame path in the combustion chamber, some deliver more of different combustion by-products, some deliver more octane, some deliver less octane but more heat value ... and so it goes, it's a witch's brew of chemicals with a purpose of delivering a combustible product with many variables available. Traces of other chemicals can radically affect the resulting combustability, such as tetra-ethyl lead (now removed from the fuel, hence "unleaded" gasoline as the standard today) used for octane enhancement.

So a refinery that is captive to a given major market brand may use petroleum components that deliver a more stable, more consistent, less fouling, higher octane level of performance. The gasoline product may have a longer shelf life than a gasoline produced from other components on hand that are part of the crude refining process. If that refinery dispenses at a terminal to their branded stations and to other retailers, than they are all selling the same raw goods ... except that there's a blending going on at the point of dispensing, too. The branded stations formula may be 95% regular/5% high octane for the product that they'll retail as "regular" on a given day of delivery, while the no-name brand formula might be 90% regular/10% high octane blend ... and that's before the proprietary additive packages for detergents and ethanol percentages are added to the fuels. There's a difference in cost to the retailer for these respective blends and that blend is determined by others than the given retail outlet; ie, the retailer doesn't know what the product is going to be on any given day of delivery. For that matter, neither does the delivery driver ... he simply pulls up to the dispensing terminal and orders the gallonage for his load by specifying who the load is for. The computerized delivery takes care of it from there to dispense what the retailer organization has specified for the day.

Now, let's address the OP's situation in SLC. There's a host of refineries there, not all processing the exact same crude but creating a liquid fuel (gasoline) with a particular retailer in mind as their principal product focus. Additionally, in that marketplace, there's finished goods (gasoline) trucked in from other refineries throughout the region. As I call on shops in that area, I'm still seeing wide variations in the fuel called gasoline dispensed in the area. I have assisted more than one shop dealing with driveability issues on customers vehicles with a fuel test kit, where I can prove the amount of ethanol percentage, & RVP of the fuel in a vehicle in the shop. These issues are not materially affected by the transport or storage of the gasoline.

What we've seen is a refining process perfected through the years where refineries can add less volatile components to a gasoline blend to increase the total amount of saleable product of gasoline from a given barrel of crude. This has lead to gasolines having a substantially reduced shelf/storage life than the product of years ago. We see it in sludging in the fuel systems and tanks in vehicles that aren't driven frequently. Or in the corrosive attacks on the fuel system components from the ethanol. Or the break-down into a gasoline mixture that isn't particularly easy to start a cold engine, or just runs poorly ... you have but to ask the guys i the small engine (or marine) shops these days what they're seeing for fuel system related running problems, and it's usually related to crappy or old gasoline.

Bottom line is that there are substantial differences in what you buy at the pump, more so than ever before in this business.

Last edited by sunsprit; 03-04-2012 at 01:18 PM..
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Old 03-04-2012, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis
3,675 posts, read 7,632,654 times
Reputation: 2333
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
So your total experience here is based upon all those miles you've driven in what ... 10 vehicles? 20 vehicles? 30 vehicles?

I've been driving diesel vehicles in the same region of the country as you, jazz ... since the late 1960's ... and have encountered huge variations of the fuel BTU/lb as well as the fuel composition which plugged up injector nozzles.
Similarly, I've been driving FI cars starting with mid 1960's mechanically fuel injected M-B's, later in Alfa-Romeos (SPICA injected), and BMW's (Kugelfisher injected) ... and have seen huge variations in the make-up of the fuels, with resulting clogged injectors as well as wear/damage to mechanical fuel injection delivery pumps.

With the introduction of electronic fuel injection systems, widespread in the 1970's across all the cars that ran D-jetronic Bosch systems, or later multi-point FI systems across the entire industry ... I've seen the results of poor fuel mixes. It got so bad for some cars that there were service procedures developed that were pretty invasive to deal with the resulting by-products affecting how vehicles ran (badly). A typical example would be the service procedure that BMW adopted for walnut-shell blasting of the back faces of intake valves in their cars. Or the introduction of FI system cleaning machines which circulate a cleaning solution into the fuel injectors and return lines to filter out the garbage that's accumulated in the system.

My point here is that while you, jazzl ... have seen your good service on a relatively few vehicles ...

Is that I spent 35+ years in the Denver marketplace dealing with driveability issues in FI vehicles (gas and diesel). I saw hundreds of vehicles through my shop where injectors were plugged up; sometimes we could clean them out to satisfactory performance with a fuel system cleaner ... Lubro-Moly used to have an injection system cleaner we'd run the diesel cars on, for example ... or the original formulation BG44K in a tank of fuel. There were a lot of times where we couldn't get them cleaned out enough to run properly. Some of my competitors in the biz wouldn't even try to clean out injectors because of the mixed results they'd get with them; I recall two shops in Denver that had 55 gallon drums filled with Bosch gasoline injectors taken out of service; why they kept them, I don't know but they hit the jackpot when those "cores" became a valuable item for remanufacturing at a later time. Significantly, I visited with the owners of many other shops at industry seminars where we shared our common problems of driveability complaints and how we dealt with them. So my cumulative data base of fuel related problems in the area extends to many thousands of vehicles and many hundreds of multiples of miles driven than you've ever encountered ... especially when you take into account the municipal, industrial, and commercial fleet vehicles that I was in contact with.

More significantly, however, is today's fuels and their variations. You see, I still get to call on more retail auto/diesel shops, municipal fleet shops, trucking company fleet shops, and other commercial/professional vehicle operators/shops in a week than you'll see in a lifetime, and one of the big issues I see consistently in these shops are driveability complaints. While many vehicles are having electronics/sensor/wiring issues, there's also a fair number that have plugged up injectors that require cleaning or replacement. At today's cost for replacement, it's worthwhile (IMO) to try cleaning.

In my own experience with my F-250 Powerstroke and Dodge TurboCummins, I've picked up more crappy loads of fuel than ever in recent years. Lucas Fuel Injection cleaner is a mainstay for my operations, and I use it on an "on condition" basis. If my trucks start running poorly coincidentally with a new load of fuel, they get some added before the running condition deteriorates to a point where it's really annoying ... not to mention hard starting, poor idling, or lowered fuel economy. Same thing with my FI gasoline cars ... MB, BMW, AlfaRomeo ... a "bad" load of fuel calls for an immediate treatment of the fuel to stave off worse problems.

I think there's been a fundamental misconception on this thread of what is gasoline. It's not a single liquid, but a blend of various volatile fractions that are formulated to meet certain functional and legal requirements. The way to look at this ... a huge oversimplification, but for expediency on this thread ... is to understand that the functionality and legal requirements are set as standards without specifying how they will be met.

Unlike a product like water, H2O, which has a very specific molecular structure and can be specified as to it's purity ... gasoline can be formulated by a refinery to be whatever they want it to be made from. There's many distallates/fractions that go into the liquid, and the only requirements are that once it comes to you from the retailer, that it be able to perform as specified at the time of delivery. The refinery producing the retail product can blend as they see fit to meet those specifications ... and they do blend with an eye toward who they are producing the product for. I'm not going to turn this thread into a chemistry lesson, but the point is that "gasoline" is a blended liquid fuel comprised of many different volatile chemicals which all have different levels of heat energy/lb, and other characteristics. Some deliver a more rapid flame path in the combustion chamber, some deliver more of different combustion by-products, some deliver more octane, some deliver less octane but more heat value ... and so it goes, it's a witch's brew of chemicals with a purpose of delivering a combustible product with many variables available. Traces of other chemicals can radically affect the resulting combustability, such as tetra-ethyl lead (now removed from the fuel, hence "unleaded" gasoline as the standard today) used for octane enhancement.

So a refinery that is captive to a given major market brand may use petroleum components that deliver a more stable, more consistent, less fouling, higher octane level of performance. The gasoline product may have a longer shelf life than a gasoline produced from other components on hand that are part of the crude refining process. If that refinery dispenses at a terminal to their branded stations and to other retailers, than they are all selling the same raw goods ... except that there's a blending going on at the point of dispensing, too. The branded stations formula may be 95% regular/5% high octane for the product that they'll retail as "regular" on a given day of delivery, while the no-name brand formula might be 90% regular/10% high octane blend ... and that's before the proprietary additive packages for detergents and ethanol percentages are added to the fuels. There's a difference in cost to the retailer for these respective blends and that blend is determined by others than the given retail outlet; ie, the retailer doesn't know what the product is going to be on any given day of delivery. For that matter, neither does the delivery driver ... he simply pulls up to the dispensing terminal and orders the gallonage for his load by specifying who the load is for. The computerized delivery takes care of it from there to dispense what the retailer organization has specified for the day.

Now, let's address the OP's situation in SLC. There's a host of refineries there, not all processing the exact same crude but creating a liquid fuel (gasoline) with a particular retailer in mind as their principal product focus. Additionally, in that marketplace, there's finished goods (gasoline) trucked in from other refineries throughout the region. As I call on shops in that area, I'm still seeing wide variations in the fuel called gasoline dispensed in the area. I have assisted more than one shop dealing with driveability issues on customers vehicles with a fuel test kit, where I can prove the amount of ethanol percentage, & RVP of the fuel in a vehicle in the shop. These issues are not materially affected by the transport or storage of the gasoline.

What we've seen is a refining process perfected through the years where refineries can add less volatile components to a gasoline blend to increase the total amount of saleable product of gasoline from a given barrel of crude. This has lead to gasolines having a substantially reduced shelf/storage life than the product of years ago. We see it in sludging in the fuel systems and tanks in vehicles that aren't driven frequently. Or in the corrosive attacks on the fuel system components from the ethanol. Or the break-down into a gasoline mixture that isn't particularly easy to start a cold engine, or just runs poorly ... you have but to ask the guys i the small engine (or marine) shops these days what they're seeing for fuel system related running problems, and it's usually related to crappy or old gasoline.

Bottom line is that there are substantial differences in what you buy at the pump, more so than ever before in this business.
Great post! So in your opinion, what are the top 3 brands of gasoline you feel most comfortable putting in your tank?
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