Sunday, July 17, 2011


One of the areas of research before I bought the car was fuel economy. This is especially true since the GTI is so similar to the 40-50MPG TDI diesel. In fact, the most common question I get about this car is whether I considered a TDI instead. Wow, did I. It was far too spartan and uninteresting for the price. Now the GTD diesel from Europe, with the same GTI trim would have been a contender.

The GTI gets good gas mileage, but it takes premium fuel. Before I bought the car, I did the math comparing my Mazda 6 to the GTI and figured I was saving about $40/month (offset by $26/month in higher insurance). When I got the car, this savings got a bit muddled. It wasn't that I wasn't getting good mileage, in fact my highway mileage is better than expected, it's that it takes Top Tier gasoline.

Top Tier gas is a standard for detergent enhanced gas. So rather than just any premium fuel, I have to use premium fuel from an approved Top Tier gas station. There are 22 Top Tier manufacturers, but only a couple are local: Shell and Chevron. Shell has a bad reputation with its nitrogen enriched gas, so that leaves Chevron. I can find a local Chevron station at roughly the same price as my local cheap gas place, but it's one more hassle I wasn't expecting. It's probably as cumbersome as hunting for diesel fuel.

Now you're probably thinking Top Tier is bunk, which might be true. Having worked for Chevron petroleum engineers in the past, I can tell you they're true believers in the quality of their gasoline. If Top Tier was significantly more expensive, I might argue the point, but since it's roughly the same, why take chances? 


  1. If you pass it regularly, the Chevron opposite Target in Walnut Creek tends to be among the lower prices for gas in general, and certainly the cheapest for top tier. I tend to fill up there roughly once or twice a month, but then my brick has a stupidly huge tank (rated at 19.8 gallons, so even with less-than-stellar mileage it's got a long range; with the best per-tank mileage I've achieved, I could get from here to LA without stopping for gas).

    One thing I've heard is that with VWs in general you have to be a complete hardass about your oil. Newer VWs have incredibly exacting oil standards, it's not like mine which will run forever on stuff that still has chunks of dinosaur in it.

  2. I've heard that too about oil. It takes an exacting standard of synthetic oil (VW 502.00). Luckily I've got 3 years of free maintenance, so I don't need to think about it just yet. From what I can tell, you almost need to get your oil changed at the dealer.

    Dealer oil changes are about $100, but you only need them every 10,000 miles.

  3. The Maxima also states that is requires 91 Octane, but I have found that it actually runs better and gets better mileage on 87. Don't know why, but that's what it does. As for detergents, a bottle of detergent every once in a while is an option - don't know that I will need it, we will have to see. For now though, I'm being cheap and putting in 87.