Name brand or generic? What to know about buying cheaper gas amid soaring fuel prices

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Friday, March 11, 2022
Name brand or generic? Experts weigh in on fuel quality, prices
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As California gas prices continue to soar, experts share what you need to know about using the cheaper gas stations.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There seems to be no relief in sight from pain at the pump. The average price of gas in California is now $5.69 a gallon, up 12 cents from Wednesday.

Prices are even higher in the Bay Area.

Marin has the highest price locally, at $5.91 a gallon. San Francisco's not far behind at $5.86 a gallon. In Oakland, it's $5.78 and in San Jose, it's $5.74 a gallon to fill up.

As gas prices stay high, drivers have been lining up at places like Costco, where fuel prices are lower than other name brands.

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Some still choose to go with the more expensive brands.

"I choose Chevron because I think the gas is a whole lot better," Bay Area driver Carmen Avina said, "A lot of the other gas, I feel, is watered down."

Research done by AAA confirms that in some cases, cheaper prices don't always benefit your car in the long run.

"Unfortunately, our data also shows that Americans value convenience and price over quality," said AAA Spokesperson Aldo Vazquez.

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"Our research shows that non-Top Tier gasoline resulted in about up to 19 times more engine deposits than Top Tier gasoline," Vazquez said.

If you can minimize those engine deposits, your car may thank you later on.

"They can increase their vehicle performance and they improve their fuel economy," he said.

Costco gas, along with others like Chevron and Shell, falls under the Top Tier program.

"That's a program between manufacturers and gasoline producers to make a specific type of gasoline that manufacturers say runs best in the vehicles," said Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.

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Still, De Haan says gas under that Top Tier program, isn't necessarily something he seeks out.

He says that's because at a base level, all gasoline has to meet federal standards.

"The branded fuel may have different additives and detergents that go above and beyond federal standards," he said, "But all of that gasoline is generally coming from the same refineries."

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So for now, what is the gas price outlook?

De Haan says that we've had a two day drop in the price of oil that will hopefully benefit our wallets.

"That may bring some relief," De Haan said, "I'm not sure, if it'll be by this weekend (but it) could happen soon that prices stabilize and may even inch back down a little bit."