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Joe_Freeman's avatar

What is the best gasoline available in San Diego, California?

Asked by Joe_Freeman (479 points ) June 17th, 2011

I live in San Diego, California, and drive a 2002 VW GTI 1.8T with 104,000 miles. I want to use the best gasoline I can get for this car, which requires premium, but I don’t know what that is. However, I will not use a brand that I cannot buy using a mainstream credit card (e.g., ARCO).

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5 Answers

crisw's avatar

I’m also in San Diego. As far as I know, gas is gas.

jerv's avatar

@crisw It is not. Trust me, if you ever heard some of my old cars try to run on 87 octane, you’d know the difference.

That said, unlike most of the cars I have driven, pretty much any car built after 1996 can adjust itself to run on 87-octane by adjusting the fuel mixture and ignition timing (most of my cars have not had electronic ignition (which is key here) and some have not had fuel injection either, so they could not adjust) so your 2002 should be fine… though it will take a slight performance hit.

FYI, the best gas available in CA is only 91 octane whereas most other places have 92 and where I was on the East Coast, most stations carried 93 with some (often Shell) having 94.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@jerv, I appreciate your attempting to answer my question, but I was asking about brands of gasoline, not about what octane I should use. I already know that I have to use premium and that’s not up for discussion.

Unfortunately, this is a common problem on Fluther – people answer a question that is not what the asker asked. If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail to you.

jerv's avatar

Sorry for being a bit literal and answering the question as written. Maybe if the original question read “What is the best brand of gasoline available…” then it would’ve been less confusing. Mea culpa.

Basically, any of the Top Tier retailers are pretty much equivalent; none of them is notably better/worse than the others. Those not on that list may have issues. For instance, many “mom and pop”- type stations have sub-par storage tanks that may allow water or other contaminants into the gasoline, and that isn’t good. A station near where I used to live in NH was notorious for that. Others may just not have as much detergents or some other flaw.

My personal experience backs that up as well. It seems that the only times I have ever had fuel-related issues is when I had no choice but to fill up with whatever was nearby and getting a tank from someplace not on that list, often an Arco.

As my engine is pre-OBDII by over a decade and has nearly 230K miles of abuse, it is considerably more sensitive to crap fuel than your new OBDII engine that hasn’t seen half the horrors my engine has had inflicted on it over the last quarter century. You’d think that I would notice a difference between 76, Mobil, Shell, and Chevron (all of whom are on that list) but, like most car experts, I haven’t.

Arco/BP and Costco have caused me issues almost immediately, sounding like a soup can full of BBs under any appreciable load (even with 91 octane) that go away almost immediately when I get a full tank from somewhere else, so I avoid them whenever possible, at least with my old ‘yota. By the same token, my car can run fine on mid-grade from any place on that list as long as I don’t drive too aggressively. Unlike your car though, Bonnie will not run right on 87, period.

As for longevity, I somehow suspect that your electrical system will die before your engine regardless of whose fuel you burn. Still, I would stick with those on the Top Tier list, though it doesn’t matter which one.

JLeslie's avatar

All brands are pretty much the same. They get all their gas from the same place, the same distributors.

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