If you do your own car and truck maintenance and spend even a little time in an automotive parts store you have noticed that not only are there are a great number of products for sale but the pricing difference between similar products can be very large indeed. That begs the question of whether it’s worthwhile sometimes or all of the time to go with a higher price premium product.
Here are some common automotive product categories with wide price differences.
Some people always buy a higher grade of gasoline for their car or truck than even the manufacturer recommends under the assumption that the premium gasoline will provide either better performance or better mileage. The evidence is, however, that there is little or no advantage to using a higher grade of gasoline than the manufacturer recommends. If you drive about 12,000 mi. a year and average 15 mi. per gallon then the $.40 extra per gallon that you pay for premium is costing you $320 that you never had to spend.
Motor oils have been increasing in quality and reliability for several years now, especially since Mobil introduced the first synthetic motor oil for consumer use. The evidence here is that synthetic motor oils do provide a significant increase in performance over conventional motor oils. Synthetics lubricate better, are less susceptible to contaminants from the combustion process, and they allow you to go longer between oil changes. Whether you would want to spend the extra money for synthetics during the period that your car is required to undergo scheduled maintenance under a manufacturer’s warranty is another matter. It’s not that conventional motor oils are not good enough to provide adequate lubrication during scheduled oil change intervals.
Some manufacturers make premium oil filters to go along with the extended time and mileage between oil changes that you can get with synthetic oil. Inexpensive filters are typically made to perform well for about 3000 mi., or the standard oil change interval. That was fine before the widespread use of synthetic motor oil. These inexpensive filters probably use a low-grade paper as a filtration element because they were not expected to be used for more than 3000 miles. If you use synthetic motor oil then you should also use a premium filter at every oil change.
You probably have noticed the wide price difference between premium wiper blades and OEM style replacement blades. Third-party testing tends to confirm the manufacturer’s claims that their premium wiper blades outperform OEM blades, especially in severe weather conditions. The deciding factor here should probably be how often you drive in severe weather conditions or whether driving in those conditions can create a lot of stress for you. In those cases the extra few dollars are probably worth it.