"Bad" Gas?

Gas prices being what they are right now, I’ve started shopping around for the cheapest gas I can find. There’s one gas station I’ve found, out by a freeway onramp, that is often six to eight cents cheaper than the gas stations around it- sometimes as much as twenty cents cheaper. Not being one to let a good thing slide, I’ve started filling up there. A friend of my fathers, however, claims that this gas station is able to sell gas beneath the going price because this gas is somehow inferior, and that I’ll wind up paying through the nose in repairs eventually. Is that possible? Does anyone have any experience with this so-called “bad gas?”

I have no idea if there’s any truth to it, but when I used to hear about “bad gas” and asked what was bad about it, the reason given was that it contained excessive amounts of water. But as I say, I don’t know if it’s true.

A local gas station was closed down because of excessive water in the gas. I don’t know if the gas was intentionally watered or if there were problems with the underground tanks. Probably the tanks.

Ask him why his gas is cheaper. Maybe his location lets him sell more gas than his competitors, and he gets a price break. ??

I messed up my car when I got a tank of bad gas from a local filling station. It had excessive amounts of water and crud, which did bad things to the fuel system and carburetor. It never ran right after that, and the car wasn’t worth enough to justify the ridiculously high cost of a new or rebuilt carburetor. I don’t think the gas, as delivered by the distributor, was the problem. It was the filling station’s deteriorating tanks and lack of maintenance.

I have heard that there’s a gas station around here that only accepts cash- it’s possible, I suppose, that the owner saves enough on fees to credit card companies to allow the discount.

So no one has heard of essentially inferior gas being produced and distributed?

All gas is pretty much the same as far as quality goes. (In fact, many of the various franchise stations will use the same distributor, even though the brands on the stations are different. Around here, most gas stations get their fuel from a distributor named Dupree, regardless of the name of the station.) The big issue is the condition of the tanks, and if you get a tank full of bad gas, you’ll know it pretty quickly.

In some places, gas with ethanol is cheaper than non-ethanol gas, so you might check the pumps to see if there’s a label saying that the gas contains ethanol. Also check the mark up of items inside the station, they might be significantly higher than items at a station with higher gas prices.

I agree with Tuckerfan. My husband has had occasion, as a firefighter, to inspect a gasoline distribution center. Several brands of gas come from the same tank, the only difference being a small amount of additive added to the truckful.

Watered gas is almost always intentional, according to the manager of the distribution center.
Gasoline is lighter than water and station tanks have automatic shutoffs when less than a couple hundred gallons remain. Those shutoffs can, however, be overridden, allowing an admixture of gas and water to be dispensed. That override can’t happen unintentionally.

Stations with lower prices are often located in places with high traffic. What they lose in price/gal, they make up in traffic volume.

I agree with TuckerFan: all gas is pretty much the same.

Here in Minnesota, we have only 2 pipelines supplying all the gasoline in the state. The Wood River pipeline comes north from St. Louis, Mo, and the Minnesota or MinnCan one comes south from Alberta, Canada. And it all goes to 2 refinery sites (Pine Bend & St. Paul Park), from which it is distributed to all the different gas stations around here.

So all gas is the same at that point. Any changes to make some gas better or worse would have to happen after that.

Some possibilities might be:

  • some brands claim to improve their gas by ‘special additives’.
  • some stations have a higher sales volume, thus their gas is ‘fresher’. But I don’t know why that would make it any better. Gas can sit a month or so without problems, and very few stations go a month without refills.
  • either poor handling by a transport tanker, or poor maintenance of a stations’ underground tanks can result in contamination of the gas. But the pumps have filters to screen out most contamination (not liquids like water, though).

I’ve always figured the major difference was the price stations charged. And that relates to things like location, brand name, services provided (credit, checks, or cash-only) and (major one!) the profit margin they want.

There are four major cost-saving measures that might affect the performance of a car fed with cheap gasoline:

  1. Selling "no-name: gas – contrary to the statements above, all gasoline is NOT the same. While virtually all gas sold in the U.S. contains detergents, octane boosters and other critical additives, top tier gasolines contain patented additives, including detergents, that automakers claim really do outperform the generic stuff.

  2. Skipping maintenance: as mentioned above, poor maintenance of the underground tanks can cause deterioration of the gasoline. No filter will remove dissolved solids, water, or immiscible liquid contaminants that can harm performance, or even permanently damage an engine. I’d also include in this category keeping old gas and insufficient refills – excessive exposure to a large headspace will, by itself, cause gasoline to absorb deleterious amounts of water from the air.

  3. Deliberate adulteration: water is the main culprit here – it can really screw up the works, it’s illegal, and it’s easily detected if the authorities bother to look.

  4. Unscrupulous distributors: I’m only guessing here, but it seems perfectly possible that a gas station owner can think he’s getting a great deal for decent gas, but is really paying what the market will bear for whatever dregs some wildcat can scrape together from refineries, pipeline operators, and the leavings of other gas stations.

Guys,lay off the water in the gas line would ya?
H20 positivly prevents internal combustion. If more than about a cup gets into your tank, when it hits the fuel injectors your car will stop. (ask me how I know this)
Furthermore, here in Southern Californai every gas station has had its tanks replace once and sometime twice in the last 15 years or so due to groundwater contamination concerns.
Water in gas is rare, and never intentional. Sure gas can be adultered, and your local station might do it. But the station operator would have to be some kind of stupid to add a non-mixable non flamable substance. The costs of repairs that came back to bite him in the ass would far out way any profits.

The cars would run badly all the time if water in the stations gas was a problem.

I would look at the amount of ethanol in the gas that is cheaper. I saw gasoline at a pump that had about 5% more ethanol added last fall. Their prices were cheaper than the surrounding stations. Ethanol has less energy per volume than gasoline so you get less miles per gallon, you’ld have to set up a spread sheet to check which is cheaper to use in that case.

I haven’t seen a report on the stations that have inacurate pumps. Some are acidental, but some have gone as far as rigging the pumps to pump correctly until a button is pushed inside the station. The percentage of wrong pumps was a shocking amount, when I saw a report on television years ago. Many of those pumps gave you .9 gallons for every 1 you paid for. The states should spend more time finding and shutting down the bad pumps. The state of Wisconsin spent about 9 months looking into stations that illegaly changed their prices more than once in a 24 hour period. It’s a Wisconsin regulation. They would have done the public a better service sending inspectors to check pump accuracy.

I haven’t seen a RECENT report on the stations that have inacurate pumps.

I have almost always looked for those cheaper gas stations, around here that also means gas without ethonol, which I also look for. After many 100,000’s of miles driving with many cars, both carberated and fuel injected, I have NEVER gotten a bad tank of gas that caused damage - Now I have gotten gas that caused pinging (low octain), and have had fuel lines freeze in the winter on occation (doesn’t seem to be a issue with fuel injection in my experence).

Also I knew someone who DID get a bad tank, again at a el-cheapo station, it required a new fuel filter and a 2 bottles of fuel injector cleaner. He still uses the el-cheapo stations and that was just one, relitivally minor problem

One thing the mechanic told me, when he was looking at my ailing car, was to never fill up the car when there was a tanker truck unloading gas in the filling station. He said that it could stir up all the crud in the bottom of the station’s tanks.

Could we see a cite on that, please?
Specifically, one from an automaker saying this. (I know there are plenty available from the people selling these additives.) I don’t see anything like this in the owners manual for my car.

Ask, and you shall recieve Also here is General Motor’s website concerning top tier gas.
BTW another little item to note. According to the ads that Chevron runs, all of the big three automakers use Chevron in their EPA testing. Chevron does not retail gas in Michigan, so they have to truck it in from another state. Cite So if it is all the same, why do they truck it in? :confused:

The only gas that I have ever had problems with is Exxon. My car never seems to idle right with it. And as a chemist, I don’t buy that anyone ever intentionally puts water in gas. I have never had a problem with cheap gas, and I always buy it, when I can.

Wow. The thread title made me think of my person, after consuming chili for a week after Gettysdope. Bad Gas? HooAh! :cool:

The car makers have had disputes with the oil companies for some time now over the sulphur content in their fuels (they finally had to get the Feds to regulate it, since the oil companies wouldn’t voluntarily agree to lower the sulphur content), so it could be that Chevron worked out a deal with the Big Three that if they used their gas for testing, they’d comply with the regulations first. It does make sense for the Big Three to not use gas from a random station for EPA testing. You’d want to be certain of what it was you were pumping in the car for testing. Getting gas that’s been formulated to your specifications (presumably pure gas for the initial runs, and then mixed with various forms of contaminations for later runs) would be vitally important since if you ship a car that pollutes too much the EPA tends to come down on you hard. (Happened to Mazda, IIRC.) Chevron may be the only company willing/able to put up with the hassle/difficulty of complying with such requests.