All Things Automotive with Ken

Know What’s Best: Go with TOP TIER
Ken Bolser

A close friend of mine usually knows what’s best, no matter what the situation. Recently, however, I had to convince them that something they were doing that seemed like the best thing, actually wasn’t.

This friend had been filling their car with premium-grade fuel, thinking that meant it was good for the car, despite the manufacturer’s recommendation to use a regular grade. Of course, they weren’t alone in doing this: about 16.5 million other U.S. drivers regularly do the same thing.

The truth is there is no benefit to using premium fuel in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel or even in the vehicles that may recommend, but not require, premium. AAA researched this extensively and found no significant improvement in horsepower, fuel economy, or emissions, thereby implying that paying extra for that premium fuel when your car doesn’t require it is a waste of money.

I hate wasting money, and I’m sure you do too. That’s why we do this kind of research. We want to know what’s best for you, your vehicle, and your wallet.

The research also underscores that fuel grade is different from fuel quality and it’s fuel quality that actually matters. Now that I know I don’t need to fill my car with premium fuel, I seek out high-quality TOP TIER fuel that meets a higher standard for detergent additives to keep a vehicle’s engine cleaner and protect it against engine deposits and carbon buildup. Through a series of independent lab tests, AAA found strong evidence that regular use of TOP TIER fuel leads to better fuel economy, performance, and a longer life for your car’s engine. This leads to savings on repairs and fuel, and that’s definitely a good thing.

TOP TIER fuel is also only an average of three cents more per gallon than standard fuels, which you might have been spending on a premium grade anyhow! The advantage, however, is thanks to a new AAA rewards program partnership with Shell, a leading provider of TOP TIER fuel. AAA members get a 5 cent per gallon discount, which puts you ahead before you even start. Plus, signing up for the rewards program is super easy and full of other benefits as well, just visit

The other thing that’s a cinch is finding a Shell or other gas station that carries TOP TIER fuel, thanks to the AAA Mobile app. The home page provides you with a list of stations within range, indicating which ones offer TOP TIER. Since most of us like going to gas stations that are conveniently located, the app makes things easy. In fact, my friend and I took a road trip not long ago from Denver to Houston, Texas, and not only did we use the app to chart our route, we also used it to find conveniently located TOP TIER gas stations throughout, ensuring peace of mind for us and a happy engine for our car. Now that’s definitely what’s best.

Ken Bolser is the vice president of automotive for AAA Colorado.