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AAA: U.S. Drivers Wasting Billions On Premium Gas

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According to the Energy Information Administration, the share of premium gas in total fuel sales is the highest in more than a decade. But, AAA says, most of those drivers are wasting their money.

In a study released today, AAA researchers said they could find no difference between premium and regular gas when it came to fuel economy, lower emissions or horsepower.

"American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel," said the report. "Drivers see the 'premium' name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle. AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality."

AAA said it tested vehicles equipped with V-8, V-6 and I-3 engines, designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. The vehicles included the Chrysler, Mazda, Dodge and Toyota brands. The automobile association said in the past 12 months, nearly 16.5 million U.S. drivers "unnecessarily used premium-grade gasoline in their vehicle at least once."

"Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating," said Megan McKernan, manager of the AAA Southern California Research Center.

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