Gasoline Buying Habits of Young Drivers Revealed

by Don Elliott on September 19, 2012

Leading gas station chain Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco Branded fuels has completed a survey of drivers aged 21-30 who drive and are the primary purchasers of gasoline. 1,018 men and women revealed that nearly half (49 percent) regularly fill up with unbranded gasoline, even though 84 percent of those surveyed say that they are more likely to care about their car’s engine than its appearance. The Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco news release summarizing the survey results goes points out that unbranded gasoline is “known to cause engine deposit build-up over time that can inhibit gas mileage and engine performance.”

Price appears to be the primary reason that young drivers knowingly choose to buy gas that may not be the best for their cars. More than half (54 percent) of those polled say that cost is the most important factor when selecting which gas to buy. In addition, 55 percent of the respondents think that the type of gas that they use affects performance, but when choosing which gas to use, only 42 percent consider the brand when choosing where to buy their fuel.

The survey raises several questions beyond those asked buy the fuel provider. For example, are these young buyers aware of the auto repair expense that could result when intake valves and fuel injectors become clogged? Do they realize what happens to used car value when engine performance is impaired? More importantly, what is the real impact of additives between unbranded gasoline and the slightly more expensive branded products? Finally, what wholesale fuel providers service which station with which gasoline formulation? It is not always clear at the pump.

“What this survey tells us is that millennial drivers care about their cars, but they’re quick to use the gas that they think will save money in the short-term, without considering the performance impacts the resulting engine build-up may be causing long-term,” said Tami Walker, Manager, U.S. Fuels Brand Management for Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco. This means that young drivers are more concerned with the money they have now and less concerned with potential costly automotive repair services down the road. “We know that TOP TIER™ Detergent Gasolines, like our fuels, which offer more detergent additives than legally required, improve car performance almost immediately. We’re committed to demonstrating to young drivers the value and benefits from Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco branded gas, and consistently offering high quality fuels that provide cleaner intake valves and fuel injectors within the first five fill-ups.”

Of the drivers surveyed, 98 percent who use inferior gas would upgrade if the branded gas increased gas mileage or if they believed that there was a significant difference in the quality of the gas.

The survey was conducted by Kelton between July 19-25, 2012 using an email invitation and an online survey. Phillips 66, 76 and Conoco point out that the results of any sample are subject to sampling variation.

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