Gas Time: What Is Top Tier Gas?

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It’s touted in gasoline ads across the U.S. that their product is a “Top Tier Gasoline” as recommended by General Motors for your Corvette to maximize performance and reduce maintenance costs. So, what exactly is Top Tier Gas, and what does it really do for your ‘Vette? Well, it’s a bit of a marketing ploy, a gasoline additive standard, and probably something you don’t want to avoid.


According to their website, Top Tier Detergent Gasoline is the standard used by BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi after they all came together to “recognize that the current EPA minimum detergent requirements do not go far enough to ensure optimal engine performance.” It’s not limited to ethanol or even premium gasolines – all grades of gas that a fuel supplier sells must hit this standard in order to be recognized at Top Tier.


So, what is the standard? Well, first, and most importantly, is that there are no metallic additives in their fuel mixture. This leads to more pollution and damage to the emission system. The detergent requirements are not determined by the amount or type of detergent but instead by a testing standard. If you want your gasoline to be Top Tier, it must be tested at an American Association for Laboratory Accreditation facility meeting ISO 17025 and demonstrate specified levels of:

• Deposit control on intake valves using a Ford Ranger 2.3 L four-cylinder engine
• Deposit control in the fuel injectors
• Deposit control in the combustion chamber using a Ford Ranger 2.3 L four-cylinder engine
• Prevention of intake-valve sticking using a 1.9-liter Volkswagen Wasserboxer engine or a 5.0-liter GM V8

Oh, and you must also pay $25 to $30-thousand for testing to become Top Tier. The laboratory you sent it to will mail the results to GM, and it’s a Pass/Fail test, so there is no in between. In all, most Top Tier gasolines will usually contain two to three times the amount of detergent required by the EPA.


Now, should you avoid using Top Tier gasoline? Probably not. The EPA standards for detergents hasn’t changed since 1995 so they have been good so far, but with Top Tier you do get that extra insurance that you’re getting a better quality fuel for your engine. You don’t even have to shop for fuel at expensive places like Chevron, Exxon, or any other Big Oil stations. You can buy your fuel from QuickTrip, Valero, or even Costco.

Yes, even the least liked fuel on the West Coast, ARCO, is a Top Tier Standard Fuel. Here is a full list that was updated on July 2015 for Top Tier Gas in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.

76 Stations Aloha Petroleum ARCO Beacon
BP Chevron Conoco Costco Wholesale
CountryMark Diamond Shamrock Entec Stations Express Convenience Centers
Exxon Hawaii Fueling Network (HFN) Holiday Stationstores Kwik Trip/Kwik Star
MFA Oil Co. Mobil Ohana Fuels Phillips 66
QuikTrip Road Ranger Shamrock Shell
Sinclair Suncor Energy Inc SuperAmerica Texaco
Tri-Par Oil Co. Valero


Chevron Canada CO-OP Costco Wholesale Esso
Petro-Canada Shell Canada Tempo


Puerto Rico:
Puma Energy Caribe, LLC

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Justin Banner is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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