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Engine-cleaning additives in gasoline are worth the extra price to keep your car healthy, according to independent laboratory testing from AAA. The group found significant differences in the quality of gasoline sold nationwide.

Since 1996, the Environmental Protection Agency has required a minimum level of detergent for all gas sold, but Top Tier gasoline brands have an enhanced level of engine-cleaning additives.

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AAA says non-Top Tier gasoline caused 19 times more engine deposits than Top Tier brands after 4,000 miles of simulated driving.


Over time, those carbon deposits can reduce fuel economy, increase emissions and negatively impact performance, especially on newer vehicles.

“AAA was surprised to learn the extent to which detergent additives impact gasoline quality,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.

As a result, AAA suggests that drivers go to Top Tier retailers, which add the extra detergent to all grades of fuel.

Since the overwhelming majority of drivers choose where they buy gas based on location and price, this might mean changing your habits.

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“Americans are six times more likely to choose a gas station based on the price of gasoline rather than the quality of the fuel,” said Nielsen. “Since TOP TIER gasoline is widely available and only an average of three cents more per gallon, AAA urges drivers to reconsider their priorities when selecting a gas station.”

Where do you find Top Tier fuel options? They’re all over! According to Top Tier, about a third of gas stations meet their fuel quality standards.

Here are Top Tier licensed retail brands, as of November 2016:

  • 76
  • Aloha
  • Amoco Ultimate with Invigorate
  • ARCO
  • Beacon
  • BP Regular with Invigorate
  • BP Silver with Invigorate
  • Break Time
  • Cenex
  • Chevron
  • CITGO
  • Conoco
  • Co-op
  • Costco Gasoline
  • CountryMark
  • CountryMark Plus
  • Diamond Shamrock
  • Esso
  • Express
  • Exxon
  • Hele
  • Holiday
  • Kwik Star
  • Kwik Trip
  • Kwik Trip Express
  • Mahalo
  • MFA
  • Mobil
  • OAAI
  • Ohana Fuels
  • Petro-Canada
  • Phillips 66
  • PUMA Energy Caribe
  • QT
  • QuikTrip
  • Road Ranger
  • Shamrock
  • Shell
  • Shell (Puerto Rico)
  • Sinclair
  • Standard
  • SuperAmerica
  • SuperFuels
  • Tempo
  • Texaco
  • Tri-Par Qwik Stop
  • Valero

If your favorite station isn’t on this list, ask an employee or check using the GasBuddy mobile app.

RELATED: These car brands produce the most gas guzzlers

And if you haven’t been using high quality gasoline, it’s not too late. AAA says you can reverse some of the damage by making the switch to Top Tier gasoline.

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Mike Timmermann, Clark.com |