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What's Your Fuel I.Q.?

What's Your Fuel IQ?

by Jessica Howell

Pull up, hop out, pump gas, pay, repeat. Filling up at the local gas station is standard routine for most of us; but could quick decisions at the pump be harming your car?

According to a recent poll, 70 percent of respondents think that gasoline purchased from one station is basically the same as gasoline purchased from another station, while nearly two-thirds of people believe that all brands of gasoline are the same. Not true, says Barbara Terry — better known as Dr. FuelGood, a self-proclaimed car expert with twenty years of professional experience dealing with all bumper-to-bumper matters.

“A car is the largest investment many Americans make,” Terry said. It’s for this reason that you need to choose a high quality fuel for it to run on. And contrary to what many believe – not all fuels are created equal.

Gasoline standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been in place since 1995 and according to some, it’s been too long. That leaves many gasoline retailers with the ability to provide fuels with lower-quality additive packages (including important cleaners that minimize carbon deposits.) These cleaning additives are what minimize carbon build up on fuel injectors and intake valves — components that keep your car running smoothly.

In an effort to battle the low quality gasoline retailers, four automakers — BMW, General Motors, Honda and Toyota — teamed up to create what is called Top Tier Detergent Gasoline standards. These new standards up the minimum detergent requirements for gasoline retailers, ensuring that your car is getting the fuel it needs for optimal engine performance.

Terry recommends checking with your manual’s guide to find out which fuel type is best suited for your vehicle and its performance, and then heading to your local Shell Gasoline, whose entire fuel line meets and exceeds EPA standards. Especially touted is Shell’s new VPower gasoline, replacing the previous Shell Premium. VPower offers a whopping 50 percent more cleaning additives than the minimum set by EPA guidelines.

“You can see carbon deposits in cars as early as 5,000 miles,” said Terry, stressing the importance of high percentage cleaning additives. “And fuels like VPower can actually go in and clean deposits left by other gasolines.”

Almost half of Americans don’t know that clogged fuel systems lead to decreased performance and vehicle longevity, according to Terry. Regular tune ups can help to identify problems before they cause damage and can consequently help improve fuel economy.

Terry’s other tips for increasing your miles per gallon? Keep the correct air pressure in your tires at all times, make sure that you’re using the right grade of oil in your engine (consult your local mechanic to verify,) and always switch your air filter.

For more tips on fuel saving practices and to find out your fuel personality, visit