Is there actually a difference between arco gas and brand name gas like the mobil 76 shell chevron – quora t gastrobar el tenedor


A vast majority of all motor fuel (Read gasolines and Diesel fuels) are refined to the same specifications from all refineries, except of course in California where they require much different specs. They are fungible meeting common specifications. The refineries deliver the fungible motor fuels into common carrier pipelines and are delivered into terminals along the way. Frequently, the batch of motor fuels inputted by one refinery is not the same that the pipeline delivers to the terminal.

PLUS, and this concept escapes most people, a vast majority of motor fuels are exchanged by the oil companies, so that Arco may draw gasoline from Mobil terminals and Shell may draw gasoline from Chevron terminals and Phillips may draw gasoline from Arco, Mobil and Chevron terminals. Who knows? These exchanges are critical to the distribution of motor fuels through out the US and are very common. They save the motor fuel buying public somewhere between $0.25 to $0.75 per gallon, except in California of course.

Then you have the gasoline stations that buy their supplies on the open spot market from whomever is best at the time, knowing they will always receive the same basic common carrier specified “Fungible” gasolines. It is anybody’s guess where they draw their motor fuels and who actually refined it.

So how do these companies differentiate their gasolines from others? By claiming they insert additives AFTER they load up a tank truck at the terminal, and even sometimes at the gas station itself, if the tanker truck is delivering to multiple stations of different brands. Do these various additives make a real difference in performance? In my years, I have not seen much of a difference, if any. But I cannot and will not express an opinion here whether they really do make a difference. Frankly, the most important thing is that the gasolines contain a minimum of BS&W (Bottoms Sediment and Water) read contaminants. If the gasolines is loaded from a common carrier terminal, regardless of which brand, it will in almost all instances have the basic qualities I want and expect. Thus, I price shop and do not consider the brand of gasoline I buy.

First of all, all refineries in a given area are connected to a pipeline grid. That pipeline grid delivers gasoline to regional storage facilities. From the regional storage facilities the gasoline is delivered to storage racks (above ground tanks), from which tanker trucks are filled.

Here in SoCal, all of the refineries deliver gasoline to the same tanks and racks, and tanker trucks for all brands (with few exceptions) fill up at the same racks. When a tanker truck is filled with the appropriate grade of gasoline, an additive package is added to the tanker, usually by the truck driver. The additive is then “mixed in transit” as the truck is driven to a station.

As interesting side notes, the same pipeline grid that delivers gasoline, also delivers diesel, Jet A, JP4, JP8, and other fuels. There is even a rank order in which these different fuels can be delivered. There is a pipeline that delivers jet fuel from the Carson-Wilmington refinery complex to the former Air Force base in Adelanto, 100 miles (160 km) away.

The smaller retailers will not have their own refineries and, as such, will buy their fuel from one of the above mentioned refineries. These sales will often be under contract that will be renegotiated after a set amount of time. In some cases, the smaller company will stay with the same refiner, in others they may get a better deal somewhere else. That is part of the reason that off brand fuel is often cheaper, as they will have competition when they negotiate a contract, thus getting their fuel at a cheaper price. Therefore they are able to pass those savings along to the customer.

When I was younger I worked at my local Esso station. Across the street from us was station from a small chain that did not refine their own fuel. We knew that they were also getting their gas, at that time, from the Esso refinery. Due to the competition, however, they were getting it at a cost low enough that they could sell their gasoline at a price less than we paid for ours so we could not compete.

In some cases the major retailer will put additives into their own fuel that they do not put in the fuel they sell to the smaller retailers, sometimes it will be exactly the same, depending on the refinery and what they have on hand, but there is no way for the consume to know, or even the gas station in most cases.

As for how much the additives help, or do not help, my answer is completely anecdotal, so take it for what its worth. I no longer work at a gas station and have not for over 20 years. I do work a job, however, in which I put 60–100K kilometers (40–60K miles) on my vehicle per year. I have run several vehicles over 400,000 kilometers (250,000 miles) on bargain gasoline with no apparent detrimental effects. All were still running fine when I replaced them, but with high miles, were starting to wear out many non-engine components and, as such were too much hassle to keep around.

The biggest potential damage to your engine comes not from buying cheaper gasoline, but rather, purchasing gasoline from a specific station that has, some how, gotten contamination in their tanks. This could potentially happen to any station, major retailer or small, bargain retailer.