There are different brands of gasoline, and different formulations, but they all make your car go. In my opinion, it doesn't make any difference which gasoline you use, they are all pretty much the same.

If you've never tried cheap gas before, now is the perfect time! Cast a vote for cheaper gas by buying the cheapest gas you can find.

I know your car's engine is valuable. If you have problems with the gasoline from a station in Sacramento, please contact me immediately.

Octane

High octane fuels are not better than low octane fuels. They are formulated to help stop pinging. 

In the 1920s, the Ethyl company began marketing a gasoline that would help cars stop knocking and pinging. Since then, there has been a choice at the gas pump. However, 80 years of motor engineering have pretty much eliminated the pinging problem from production vehicles.

The only cars I've heard about having a pinging problem are the 1975 Dodge Swinger 318, the 1998 Dodge Club Cab Dakota and the 1991 Ford Ranger. 

Source: Indiana Observer Article. Also the Federal Trade Commission article on high-octane fuel.

A million opinions on high-octane fuel from epinions.com. 

Watered Down

One concern about cheap gasoline is that it might be "watered down". I don't think this is possible.

Gasoline doesn't mix with water. The very first car that tried to run on this would stall immediately and become a big problem for the gas station operator.

Gas stations could mix something else into the underground gas tanks, but what? Lighter fluid? Olive oil? Nearly every liquid on earth costs more than gasoline. It wouldn't make sense.

Prices of other liquids

Brand Name

Experience tells me that Chevron, Shell, Unocal 76 and Exxon will consistently have a higher price than ARCO and independent stations. These stations have strong brand names reinforced by quality products and tremendous marketing campaigns.

However, comparing Shell and ARCO isn't like comparing Godiva and Hershey... you are just burning it in your car. It is a simple product that you rarely even view with your own eyes.

 

The photograph on the right shows two beakers of gasoline. One is filled with $2.05 gas from Poplar Food & Liquor in West Sacramento (Sacramento Gas Station #031). The other is "premium" $2.35 gas from Unocal 76 on X Street.

Before I filled these containers, I didn't even know what color the gas would be. One is a little bit yellow, the other is very clear. I don't think your car can tell the difference. 

I realize that high-priced stations have their own credit-cards, wet squeegees, cleaner mini-marts and unlocked bathrooms. Please join me in forgoing these luxuries for a few months while we chip down the gas prices around town.

More Information

Gasoline Taxes (a combination of state and federal taxes): 51.9 cents per gallon. These taxes have been in place since 1995.

As for the crude oil, I found this information at discover.com:

A typical fuel refinery will obtain 19 gallons of gasoline from each 42 gallon barrel of crude. The amount of other products obtained from crude oil depends on the same factors. In addition to gasoline, crude petroleum is used to make petroleum gases (methane, propane), solvents (naphtha, toluene, etc.), fuel oils (diesel, home heating oil), lubricating oils (motor oil), specialty lubricating oils (baby oil), petrolatums (Vaseline), waxes (candle wax), asphalt (road paving). Everything in a barrel of oil is used; nothing goes to waste. 

The price of gasoline and crude oil are definitely connected, but there is flexibility in the connection. 

On March 20, 2003, you could buy wholesale gasoline at 93 cents a gallon and oil (light, sweet crude) at $29.36 a barrel (for delivery in the future).

Wholesale unleaded gasoline for delivery in May was 93.35 cents a gallon at the close of trading Wednesday in New York, down from the recent high of $1.16 on March 10, according to Beutel's records. West Texas Intermediate, also known as light, sweet crude, was $29.36 a barrel for delivery in May.

source: USA Today

 

Some more miscellaneous gasoline information:

The USA uses 9 million barrels of oil per day for transportation (ABC news television) 

A gallon of gas contains about 60 kilowatt-hours of chemical energy (only about 25% of the chemical energy can be turned into mechanical power, and the rest is wasted as heat). This is an awesome amount of energy packed into this small package. Compare the energy density of gasoline (14.0 Kilowatt-hours per kilogram) to the energy density of Lithium Ion batteries (.16 Kilowatt-hours per kilogram).

source: University of Oregon 

 

More information about Sacramento Gas Connoisseurs:

This page last updated May 1st, 2003 | Copyright 2003 Rob Cockerham |

How Much is Inside?  |  Incredible Stuff  |  Science Clubabout Cockeyed