Americans waste billion annually on higher-grade gasoline

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WASHINGTON (CBS) - A new report from AAA says Americans waste billions of dollars at the pump every year on higher grade gas.

The report says "drivers unnecessarily upgraded from regular to premium gasoline an estimated 272 million times in the past year."

Gas remains nearly 10 cents cheaper than this time last year, but AAA says Americans are basically throwing money away by doing what driver Edna Bangan just did.

"It just requires unleaded, but I prefer to use plus,” Bangan said. “To keep the engine good."

Richard Ulrich prefers regular, he too hears the siren song of higher grade gas.

"Uh, I think the octane level, yeah I think so, makes the engine run better, I think it runs cleaner with the higher octane," Ulrich said.

"I think it's easy to believe that something that is premium sounds like a treat,"said AAA’s John Nielsen. "But the truth is if your car is designed to run on regular gasoline, using the premium fuel or the 93 octane isn't going to make it run better, have better fuel economy, or have lower emissions."

AAA looked at cars with a V-6 (2016 Dodge Charger), A V-8 (2016 Toyota Tundra) and four cylinder engines (2016 Mazda 3) and found 'no benefit' to using a higher level of gas than was called for by the manufacturer.

AAA estimates 16.5 million drivers miss-fueled their cars by upping the octane unnecessarily last year, costing them an extra $2.1 billion.
Only about 16 percent of vehicles on the road require premium gas - they are typically high performance or luxury cars.

Another 10 percent run best on mid-grade, while seven in 10 cars on the road only need regular.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the gasoline industry, agrees most cars run just fine on regular 87.

AAA says using premium won't hurt your car's engine or its performance, but if the car is designed for regular it won't benefit from the higher octane the way a high performance car does.

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