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Is Canadian gas better than American gas?

I just read your article [from last year] about the cost of premium fuel in Canada versus the United States. Is there any truth to the idea that regular unleaded American gasoline is a lower quality than regular unleaded gasoline in Canada? All I have been able to find is anecdotal evidence. For example, is Shell regular unleaded in Canada the same as Shell regular unleaded in the United States? I live about a minute from the border in South Surrey, B.C., and often travel across the line to fill up. My husband insists that I don't purchase Shell's gold level fuel in the U.S. because he says (our mechanic said to him) that regular unleaded south of the border is not as good quality. Do you know the answer to this question? – Lucie

You can save a few kilometres and some fuel by shopping at your nearby Shell station rather than crossing the border. Shell says the gasoline supplied by a Shell site in British Columbia or Washington State would both be Top Tier quality.

Shell says that, "in terms of detergency, the two countries are on par at Shell sites." On both sides of the border in your location, Shell V-Power would provide detergency better than required by the Top Tier rating suggested by some manufacturers.

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In Canada, the octane levels for bronze is 87 and for V-Power 91. In Washington State, it's 87 for what is known there as main grade and 92 for V-Power. Shell says volatility would actually be about the same in both the Lower Fraser Valley and Coastal Washington State, as they have similar weather.

"In the Lower Fraser Valley, Bronze (87) contains 10 per cent Ethanol. Shell V-Power in Canada currently does not contain any Ethanol. In Washington State, both main grade and V-Power would contain 10 per cent Ethanol."

The company says it takes extra steps at Canadian refineries to filter fuel containing ethanol against water and phase separation.

It is important to note that refineries in the two countries – and in different regions of both countries – produce fuel according to specifications laid out by their respective governing bodies. The "specs" are similar, but not identical. The Canadian specifications cover a wider range of temperatures and conditions.

Shell, for example, uses more volatile fuel here in winter "to provide better cold starts and driveability." Shell and other mainstream refiners are constantly adjusting their fuels on an almost weekly basis, one of the reasons I am constantly recommending the use of fresh fuel.

The fuels also differ geographically. Shell typically only uses ethanol in regular grade fuels, in specific markets including the Lower Fraser Valley and Southern Ontario; ethanol is used in all regular grade fuels in the United States, regardless of the refinery of origin.

Octane ratings for regular, mid-grade and premium Shell fuels across Canada are 87/89/91. In the United States, an 85-octane fuel is available in some markets of higher elevation such as the Rockies and premium ratings for premium can range from 91 to 93, depending upon the market.

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Shell says that there are environmental differences between the regulations as well. "The federal limit on benzene in gasoline is currently lower in Canada than the U.S., so our levels of benzene are lower; typically we are also lower in sulphur content than in the U.S."


I would like to know what are your thoughts on electronic rust proofing and if there is an advantage. The dealer is asking $1,000 for the electronic rustproofing for a brand-new Honda Odyssey. – Jayesh

Walk away quickly with your hands in your pocket or purse protecting your money.

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