Premium gas vs. regular: What’s really better for your car? (CBC Marketplace)


♪ [theme]>>Tom Harrington:This week onmarketplace… [gas pump bell]getting hosed at the pumps.>>Who do we trust?>>Tom:Are we being misledinto spending millionswe don’t have to?>>Which gas is better for my car?>>Supreme.>>Tom:Wasting money on gasmost of our cars don’t need.Oil companies are misleading drivers?>>Absolutely!>>Tom:We put Premium gasto the test, and you won’tbelieve what we find.>>It’s actually hurting the environment!>>Why are they selling people a kind of gas that they don’t need? ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>Tom:We’re cruisingalong the back roadsof Southwestern Ontario.It’s themarketplacegas challenge.Premium versus Regular.Which one will come out on top?Stay tuned for the lowdownon high octane.♪ ♪No matter what youput in your tank,the price across the countryis high, too.And for Premium, well,you pay a premium.As much as 15 cents moreper litre than Regular.We’re at a gas stationin Toronto’s East End.How are you doing? Can I ask you a couple of questions?Gauging your gas-buying habits.What do you know about Premium gas?>>I think it’s better for your motor?>>It’s supposed to make it run better, right?>>It burns cleaner.>>It’s supposed to be better for your car in terms of, I don’t know, some additives or something that they put into it. [♪]>>Tom:Ads like this seemto drive that home.[♪]>>Announcer:Shell V-Power.Our most advanced fuel ever.>>Tom:Making the pitch thatPremium’s better for your car.>>Announcer:Nitrogen-enrichedfor optimum performance,maximum protection.>>Tom:Now, it’s true thatsome car-makers recommendputting Premium fuelin their high-end models,but what about most of uswho drive regular cars?Do you ever buy Premium gas?>>Sometimes.>>In my other car, I did.>>Once in a while, I do like to because they say it’s better for the car. You know?>>Tom: Who says?>>Uh, I don’t know! I guess just other people that have worked at the gas stations and stuff have told me over the years.>>It’s better quality, I think. This is what they say.>>Tom: Did it require Premium?>>No, but I mean, it’s supposed to be better for the car, right?>>It’s a treat. If I’ve got extra money, I think, okay, I’ll put the Premium in today. [chanting]>>Tom:Treating body and mindwith care is at the centreof Karuna Brandy’s life.>>Sending the breath into the joints.>>Tom:She teaches yoga out ofher home in East-End Toronto.>>So, we’re actually increasing the lubrication here.>>Tom:A believer in theholistic approach, even whenit comes to buying gas.>>I’m so not the right person to ask.>>Tom:As we learn when wefirst meet her at the pumps,putting higher octanegas into her Honda Civic.So, why?>>Because I get better gas mileage with my car.>>Tom: On the higher–?>>On the higher octane.>>Tom: Well, what have you heard about Premium gas?>>I’m a yogi eco-person. So, in my mind– I don’t know if it’s true or not, but in my mind, I believe it’s true that if I buy the higher-grade gas, it burns cleaner. [♪]>>Tom:Is she right?We want to find out ifPremium gas really does allthose wonderful things.So, we’re doing three testswith a regular car.Does it run better, go farther,burn cleaner with Premium?The choice for our firstexperiment is Shell’sPremium V-Power.We’re using this 2013Chevrolet Cruze,one of the best-sellingpassenger cars in Canada.And our lab, if you like,is the Canadian Automotiveand Trucking Institutein Cambridge, Ontario.Marty Stanfel is runningour test.He’s been an instructor herefor more than 20 years.How’d I do?>>That’s great.>>Tom: Okay, thanks. Hey, Marty, Tom Harrington.>>Hi, Tom, how are you?>>Tom: Thanks for helping us out today.>>You’re more than welcome.>>Tom: Okay. Let’s see, we’re testing Premium versus Regular gas?>>That’s right.>>What will this machine do?>>What this machine is going to do, is we’re going to measure the performance of the car by measuring the horsepower and the torque and see if there’s any difference between Regular fuel and Premium fuel.>>Tom: So, what do you need me to do?>>I’m going to strap down the car and then I need you to do 50 kilometres an hour.>>Tom: Okay.>>And put on the cruise control, and we’ll get some numbers here.>>Tom: Great. Let’s do that. [♪] >>Tom:Our first testis looking at performance.Does the engine run betteron Premium?We start by running theChevy Cruze on Regular gas.What is this telling us about how the engine’s performing on Regular gas?>>What it’s telling us right now is that this is taking this amount of horsepower to make these wheels turn, and using up that much fuel.>>Tom:We have our readingwith the Regular.Time to switch over nowto the Premium fuel.Okay, I was going to say fill ‘er up, but I think you have to empty it.>>Good point.>>Tom: I’ve never done that before.So, we drain the Regular gas.And put in theShell V-Power Premium.We have Premium gas in the car now, so do you expect any of those numbers to change?>>I’m thinking this number here is going to drop. I’m not too sure about this number, but I’m thinking this number here is going to come in at a lower number.>>Tom: And if it’s a lower number, that means what?>>That means that the engine is running more proficiently and doesn’t need as much power to make it run the same speed.>>Tom: Okay.>>Because of the high test fuel. [car accelerating]>>Tom: So, what are we seeing?>>We’re seeing the same numbers as before. That’s very interesting.>>Tom: What do you make of it? Shouldn’t the Premium be lower number?>>You would think.>>Tom: What does that tell you?>>I think what’s happening here with the Premium fuel running through here, the computer of the car is compensating for that. And it’s going to give you the same numbers because that’s what that engine was designed to do. So, proficiency and efficiency of the car, by putting in Premium or its desired Regular octane, it’s negligible, you won’t see a difference.>>Tom:That’s right.Our test shows our regular cardoes not run better on Premium.[♪]Car talk has beenMark Whinton’s secondlanguage since he was a boy.Today, he’s an automotiveteacher and writes a blogon the car industry.Mark’s also an expertwitness on car cases inOntario Superior Court.What’s your recommendation to people about what gas to use?>>Regular. Always.>>Tom: One of the things about Premium is that it makes your engine perform better. True or false?>>No. That’s false.>>Tom: How many would even notice the difference between the two?>>Nobody. I mean, you could blindfold me, I couldn’t tell the difference. [laughs]>>Tom:We ask Mark to puthis mileage where his mouth is.He gets the keys to the ChevyCruze for our second test.We want to see if our car getsbetter mileage on Premium.This time, we’re usingEsso Supreme.>>Set trip to zero. Resetting gas… and off we go. I expect the result to be very, very close; within a half a litre per 100 kilometres. And stop. Five litres. Full stop. 4.8 litres.>>Tell me about the results, based on what you’re seeing?>>I don’t see any difference at all. Any variance you would get would be due to just the testing variance, just between the equipment itself, its tolerances, the car itself, its tolerances. That’s it. You’re not seeing any real-world difference.>>Tom: Is there any benefit at all to putting Premium in a regular car?>>No, none whatsoever. I don’t know how to put it any plainer than that. [laughs]>>Tom:And Mark doesn’tjust talk the talk.He drives the drive.Remember that muscle carhe likes to take for a spinon a nice day?Well, GM may recommendPremium, but Mark putsRegular in the tank.>>If I was going to go to, say, a racetrack or something, definitely I would put Premium in the car. But just driving around to and fro? Don’t need it, not required.>>Tom: They talk about the idea the engine knocks if you’re not putting in the right kind of gas. Have you ever noticed anything like that with your ‘vette?>>No. Modern cars have a lot of engine management technology that tunes the car while you drive. So, if you put in a Regular grade fuel and the engine does knock, before you hear it, the engine will change the timing and get rid of the knock.>>Tom: How much money have you saved, do you think?>>Oh, about 10 bucks a fill-up.>>Tom:Mark isn’ta lone wolf on this.None other than the U.S.government agrees with him.The Federal Trade Commission,the FTC, says using a higheroctane gas than your owner’smanual recommends, “won’t makeyour car perform better,go faster, get better mileage,or run cleaner.”And, “Unless your engineis knocking…is a waste of money.”Back at the gas station,how will car owners react?>>Oh, really? I’d be surprised, but not.>>So it shouldn’t be 15 cents more a litre, right?>>It’s a scam. [laughs] That they’re getting us with the thinking that it’s better for our cars and really it’s not.>>Tom: Do you think gas stations, oil companies, are misleading drivers about Premium gas?>>I think so. Oh, yeah, absolutely!>>Tom:In the U.S., the FTCsays the same thing.It’s gone after some companiesfor misleading advertising.Esso’s parent company, Exxon,agreed to run new commercialsafter giving driversin the U.S. the wrongimpression about Premium.So, what’s the salespitch here?We’re taking our hidden camerasto gas stations across Canada,and find out there’sa premium on accuracy.>>This one is 87 per cent clean. This is 89 per cent clean. This is 91 per cent clean. [♪] ♪ [theme]>>Tom:We’re pulling up to thepumps and putting claims aboutPremium gas to the test.The American governmentand many experts are warningdrivers not to wastetheir money on Premium.So, we take our hidden camerasto gas stations in Halifax,Toronto, and Vancouver.Will they make the pitchfor Premium in a regular car?>>What would you recommend? Should I get the Premium or the Regular?>>Tom:Some seem to givethe correct advice.>>I think so, Regular.>>In this?>>Yeah?>>You don’t need it.>>Tom:But others sayPremium is king.>>Should I get Regular or Premium?>>Premium, sir.>>Premium’s better?>>This car need a Premium, yeah.>>Which gas is better for my car?>>That is the… Supreme.>>Tom:And one of the reasonsthey’re telling us to gowith Premium over Regular?>>You’re going to notice more gas mileage.>>You will know the difference by your mileage.>>You can get more mileage out of this gas.>>Tom:Better mileage,in a car that doesn’t need it,and a claim experts sayis simply not true.The oil companiespump up another claimabout Premium gas.>>It keeps the engine clean so you don’t have to buy all those cleaners.>>If you want to be a little on the safer side, take 89.>>What will that do, though?>>It’s a little more cleaner. This one is 87 per cent clean. This is 89 per cent clean. This is 91 per cent clean.>>Tom:Clean can meanall kinds of things.>>Announcer:Essoscientists have engineeredgasoline on the molecular levelto help clean up intake valvesand help deliverbetter fuel economy.>>Tom:But to the oilcompanies, clean is allabout the detergentsthey put in their gas.>>With 20 per cent more cleaning agents than before…>>Tom:And they sell itlike other people selllaundry soap.>>[whispers] No other gasoline protects your engine better.>>Tom:Petro Canada goesso far as to callits gas “RegularClean”and “SuperClean”.Our expert, Mark Whinton,says, time to come cleanon this one.>>I’ve noticed that they’re making everybody think their engines are dirty and they need to be cleaned, and that if you clean them, you’ll get better performance and things. You know, engine’s today stay pretty clean. I mean, it’s a bit of a fallacy to think, oh, we have, you know, hundreds of thousands of engines running around, they’re all gunked up that need cleaning! It’s simply not the case. And all the other gases, their regular gases, have detergents as well, as mandated by law.>>Tom:The FTC agreeson that one, too,“high octane gasolinedoes not outperform Regularoctane in preventing enginedeposits from forming,in removing them, or incleaning your car’s engine.In fact, the U.S.Environmental ProtectionAgency requires that alloctane grades of all brandsof gasoline contain enginecleaning detergent additives.”We have the same rulesfor Canadian gas.There’s another Premium promisethat you hearfrom the oil companies;that Premium gas is kinder andgentler for the environment.>>This is the heal-all, so it heals on all levels. Hi, baby.>>Tom:Remember our yogainstructor?Karuna Brandyelieves in tending toand protecting the Earth.So, even though Hondarecommends Regular, Karunaputs in Premium gas becauseshe believes it causesless pollution.Time to clear the air.♪ ♪Our third and final testis on emissions.We’re back at the CanadianAutomotive and TruckingInstitute, where Marty Stanfelgets a readingwith Regular gas.>>You’ll notice here we’re only having six parts per million of hydrocarbons, that’s a very clean car.>>The overall tells us what?>>This tells us that this is a very clean-running gas, with a clean-running car. >>Tom:Now, out withthe Regular and inwith Shell V-Power Premium. Any difference to be expected?>>Again, I’m hoping to see lower numbers here now because the Premium fuel is supposed to be a cleaner-burning fuel.>>Tom:I step on the gas.And what do the readingssay this time?>>The hydrocarbons are up a little, which means there’s unburned fuel coming out of the tailpipe because we’re compensating, and the Premium fuel’s not getting used up like it should in a Premium-fuelled car. So, therefore, it’s actually hurting the environment. Whether or not you’re cleaning your valves and cleaning the inside of the engine, I couldn’t say that’s true. But I think you are hurting more of the environment now by running the Premium fuel in a Regular-fuelled car.>>Tom:We show the testresults to Karuna.So, what do you think of that?>>I’m speechless. Why I think I’m doing this is because of the opposite of that, thinking that I’m being cleaner as a driver. And then I have a question, because why are the oil companies making these different grades of gas, and is it an education for us, as consumers? And who do we trust?>>Tom:Time to find out.♪ ♪We’re taking our test carto each of the big threegas stations.Will they tell usto put in Premium?>>What would you recommend we put in?>>Tom:And we askthe companies, why so muchfiction at the pump?>>Companies are not putting these millions of dollars into research just for the fun of it. It is actually–>>Tom: Well, they’re trying to make money. ♪ ♪ ♪ [theme]>>Tom:Ourmarketplacegaschallenge shows when we putPremium gas into ourChevy Cruze, it does notperform better, does not getbetter mileage, and does notreduce emissions.In fact, it creates more.So, we decide to take our testcar to each of the threebig gas station chainsto see if they’ll recommendPremium or Regular.First up, Shell…>>Hi, how are you?>>Hi, there. What would you recommend we put in?>>Regular.>>Regular?>>Yeah!>>This attendant givesus the correct advice…And when we ask aboutthe Premium V-Power?>>No, no. This car don’t need V-Power.>>Oh, okay.>>This is GM car. It’s Regular.>>Tom:Up next,it’s Esso’s turn…>>Which would you recommend, Premium or Regular?>>For this car? You can put the Medium.>>So, it’s worth it, the extra money?>>For me, I recommend you put Supreme.>>What would it do?>>That’s, like, you can drive like more mileage on there. It’s going to clean all the injections and everything. Supreme is good.>>Tom:So, in goes the moreexpensive Supreme, into a carthat doesn’t needit.Finally, we take ourtest car to Petro Canada…>>What would you recommend we put in? What kind of gas?>>Ultra 94.>>But it costs so much more. How come?>>Yeah, I know, because it’s the best.>>Tom:We ask Petro Canada,Esso, and Shellfor on-camera interviews.They decline our offer.We bring our testcar to Montrealto meet the man who representsthe oil companies.Mr. Montreuil?>>Yes.>>Tom Harrington frommarketplace.>>Very pleased to meet you.>>Tom:Carol Montreuilis Vice-President of TheCanadian Fuels Association.Want to start with a simple question.>>Yes?>>Should people put Premium gas in a Regular car?>>Well, it’s a very good question. One has to look at the driver’s manual. It’s very clearly spelled out if you need or not, a Premium, a Premium fuel.>>Do the companies that you represent, like Shell, Petro Canada, Esso, Husky, do they tell people to put Premium in their cars?>>Absolutely not. Absolutely not!>>Tom: We took this Chevy Cruze to three different gas station chains. And we basically asked that question.I show him video of our test.>>But it costs so much more.How come?>>Yeah, I know,because it’s the best.>>Tom: What did you make of it?>>Well, I mean, it stresses the importance as a driver to make your homework and understand what your car needs. The first attendant offered Regular.>>But why are they selling people a kind of gas that they don’t need?>>Well, again, I mean, when you say it doesn’t need it, the basic requirement for the car is indeed to put Regular gasoline. Companies spend millions of dollars in research to find the best additive, what we call detergents, we put in gasoline, to keep cars running cleaner. If you do try these higher Premium gasolines and you feel that your car is performing better, you might choose to stay with that Premium gasoline.>>Tom: In a regular car that doesn’t–>>Even in a regular car. Absolutely.>>We took this car for a test. It did not perform any better. It did not burn cleaner. It did not get better mileage, putting Premium gas in that car. So, how do you explain that?>>Well, it’s a matter of time, as well. In terms of an engine becoming dirty with deposits in cylinders or in valve, it will not be a matter of days or weeks. This would be over a long period of many months or many years that you will, as a user, decide if this new Premium gasoline you’re putting in your car is indeed giving you a better performance.>>Tom: But I’m surprised to hear you suggest that running Premium gas in a regular car that doesn’t need it will enhance its performance because there are experts around the world, there’s tons of research out there that says the opposite.>>Well, the problem is that, again, you cannot look at it only from an octane point of view, but more with respect to the additive, which are detergents. Now–>>Tom: But every gasoline has detergents in it. Putting more in only means there’s more detergent.>>Yeah, but then, then it’s up to you as a user. You know, like companies are not putting these millions of dollars into research to find this best new additive to put in the Premium formula of gasoline just to… for the fun of it. It is actually–>>Tom: Well, they’re trying to make money.>>Yeah, I mean it is because, obviously it’s not the same formula. What this research on our side is telling us, is that it will keep your engine cleaner with these higher formulation of high-value additives.>>Tom:Seems much of thatresearch is hard to find.We do come across a coupleof Petro-Canada studies,claiming its Premium gascleans your engine betterthan Regular.But neither study measures“SuperClean” againstPetro-Canada’s own Regular gas,which alreadyhas extra detergents.In fact, one study compares“SuperClean” to a gas withno detergents at all.No wonder their “SuperClean”comes out on top.♪ ♪ How can we make a decision when the information is ostensibly skewed because it fits their agenda?>>Yeah, like, I’m not privy to this research, I haven’t looked at the research, I haven’t looked at the details of the numbers that have come out of the research. But I think, at the end of the day, it’s not the research that should decide, its the consumer with the performance they’re getting with their car. Again, no one is forcing anyone to buy this Premium gasoline.>>Tom: But if they’re being misled into thinking it’s doing things it can’t do, then, yeah, they are!>>Yeah, well, then you have to try it.>>Tom:Been there, done that,says Karuna Brandy.>>Now, I’m driving my car knowing it has Premium gas in it, wondering if my emissions are higher than if I was driving my car with Regular gas.>>Tom:After our test results,she’s seen the light.>>Could you fill it with Regular please?>>Sure.>>Tom:One driver makingpeace with the world.>>So, now I have this, like, awakened consciousness about what kind of gas to buy. Thank you, Tino!>>No problem.>>Tom:So, the next time youvisit the Premium pump,you might ask yourself,are you doing your cara favour, or the oil companies?♪ ♪

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