If you have ever driven by a Costco and looked at the prices at their gas stations, you know that they can be significantly lower than gasoline prices anywhere else in the area. It doesn’t take much to realize this. All you need to do is look at the long line of cars waiting to fill up their tanks to know that the price is significantly lower than most other places in the area. The prices can be so low, in fact, that you might wonder about the quality of the gasoline. When Costco is selling its gasoline for so much less than the competition, is it the same quality as brand-name gasoline such as Exxon, Shell, and Chevron? Most people want to know if Costco gas is good quality fuel.
The first thing that’s important to note is that the government sets fairly stringent standards for all gasoline that is sold in the United States. When it comes to octane level and other specific gasoline characteristics, all gas is basically the same. The difference between the fuel that you buy at branded gas stations comes down to the detergents that are added to the gas.
Even here, the government sets standards. The federal government has required since 1995 that all gasoline which is sold in the US must contain a certain amount of detergent additives. These additives are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved, and the government has specified the amount of detergent which must be added to keep vehicle engines free from deposits. Costco gasoline meets all these requirements, or it couldn’t be sold in the United States.
The question then becomes, just because Costco meets the minimum requirements, is it still as good as other brand-name gasoline? A number of automakers made the decision that the US government additive requirement wasn’t high enough for many cars. As a result, they developed a “Top Tier” standard. In order to meet the “Top Tier” designation, the fuel sold at the gas station had to meet additive requirements higher than is required by the US government. Costco fuel meets this top-tier standard.
Is the gas that they sell exactly the same as the major brands? No. But no major brand sells the exact same fuel. Costco gasoline is rated as equal to any other major brand gasoline. You should not notice any difference when filling up your vehicle at Costco as compared to other major brands of gasoline. The only difference you should notice is the significant savings that you receive when filling up your car there.
Even if you feel that the gasoline isn’t quite as good as another major brands that you have used, you might want to try this “gas hack” that will still save you money. In most areas of the country you can fill up at the Costco gas station, plus add quality fuel injector cleaner that you can purchase inside the warehouse. If you add this fuel injector cleaner as recommended, you will still pay less when purchasing Costco gas, and the fuel injector cleaner, than you would by purchasing gas alone at a major brand gas station.
In the end, there is nothing to suggest that Costco brand fuel is inferior to any other brands of gasoline. Don’t let the price alone dissuade you from getting a great deal.
(Photo courtesy of Adam Keys)