Which Truck Stop Chain Provides The Best Quality Diesel Fuel?

Discussion in 'General Diesel Fuel Discussion' started by Mike, Jan 27, 2014.


Which truck stop chain provides the best quality diesel fuel?

  1. Pilot/Flying J

    37 vote(s)
  2. TA/Petro

    29 vote(s)
  3. Loves

    14 vote(s)

    2 vote(s)
  5. Other - post your choice

    4 vote(s)
  6. They are all the same

    24 vote(s)
  1. Mike

    Mike Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Whether you are an owner operator or a company driver, one thing you don't want to deal with out on the road is filling your fuel tanks up with bad fuel. Bad fuel results in costly breakdowns and an overall bad experience out on the road.

    Over the course of your trucking career, you may have come to favor certain truck stop chains due to the quality of their fuel. Or, you may fell like they are all the same, only avoiding certain fuel stops that you have had bad experiences with.

    Better Fuel = better performance, better fuel economy, and few breakdowns. This means more money for both the owner operator and the company driver.

    So, do you have a favorite? Do you think they are all the same? Do you simply have one that you avoid? and Why? Maybe you only fuel at independents, let us know that too.

    In the poll, the major chains are listed for you to vote. Obviously, we can't include every truck stop :)
  2. Copperhead

    Copperhead Well-Known Member

    I guess it also has a lot to do with the area of the country. I stay upper Midwest year round and can do accurate testing of several fuel outlets on a continual basis.

    Last summer, generally the same weather conditions, with same general customer loads. I decided to try Pilot in Walcott for a month. Then Loves in Newton, IA the next month. The difference in fuel economy put Loves on the top.

    Now winter. PFJ fuel, I consistently have to watch fuel filters with their fuel. Even when I treat it myself. Loves and T/A, I usually do not have near the filter problems. As a side note to this, PFJ typically has more pumps down in the extreme cold compared to the others. That speaks volumes by itself.

    For my area, after several years of dealing with essentially the same outlets, Loves takes the prize. All of the upper Midwest stations have biodiesel laced fuel, and Loves seems to use better suppliers of their biodiesel. And I think that generally is the reason for my better experience with them. The standard diesel they use is essentially the same as everyone else's. It is the bio portion, and the supplier they get it from, that makes the difference most times.
    • Like Like x 4
  3. Duck

    Duck Quack Supporter

    When you compared that Pilot to Love's, were those two months consecutive & with similar weather? Comparing one truck stop's summer fuel with another one's winter fuel isn't going to give any kind of accurate analysis.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Injun

    Injun Rabid Squaw Staff Member Supporter

    My experience is (big chains) best fuel economy and smoothest running to worst:

    Pilot (before the merger)
    Pilot (after the merger)
    Flying J

    I can buy fuel where ever ComData is accepted, no exceptions. Swift does not place limitations like that on me.

    Best overall performance has been from Shell and Conoco independents.

    Sapp Bros comes in between T/A and Loves.
  5. 8978

    8978 ** Commie Express ** Supporter

    I'm a little confused about this. I have a friend that hauls diesel fuel in NH. He drives to the port in Boston and loads up from the same tanks that go to the TA in Greenland, NH. There are no special tanks for each chain so I'm assuming all the fuel for trucks is the same.

    When he hauls gasoline it's another story. If it's going to Mobil then he fills from a Mobil tank. Mobil, Exxon and all the rest do their own refining but I'm pretty sure everyone gets the same diesel. Flying J, Petro and Loves do not have their own refining plants.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Mike

    Mike Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What your friend would need to find out is if he is getting different fuel blends for different chains. Only way to know this is to talk to somebody "in the know" at the refineries. The base fuel may be the same, but it is possible the additive packages are being blended differently for one truck stop chain than it is another.

    It's also possible that in some areas, in order to keep costs down, they have to take whatever is available.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. 8978

    8978 ** Commie Express ** Supporter

    Before I got my CDL I would go with him on the weekends. Sometimes on the highway he would get out of the seat and let me drive the whole way until the exit. I didn't have a prayer at shifting. lol I also only drove empty, not full.

    We have a TA and Pilot in NH and they would get the same fuel as us from the same tank. Like I said above, none of the chains have refineries like the gas company.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Duck

    Duck Quack Supporter

    Maybe the people who think there's a difference probably compared the fuel from a TA in Texas to a Pilot in Connecticut or something?

    Maybe different chains add crap to their fuel after it's been delivered?

    Maybe it has nothing to do with the chain & everything to do with the condition of the individual truck stop's underground tanks. If that's the case, Pilot & Love's would have the best fuel because there's so many of them that are brand new, while every TA & Petro seems to be like 40 years old with the gray brick buildings with additions added here & there that make them almost resemble the house built by the widow of the Winchester rifle company's owner.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Fageol

    Fageol Old acid hauler but not too caustic

    Probably the smartest thing one can do to get a notion of quality is to check with the guy driving the tanker. I used to moonlight for Southern Tank Lines (headquartered in Paramount CA) out of its Martinez, CA yard. Southern had the prettiest fleet on the road and it was a union outfit. We'd pick up a load in the SF Bay area from one of the refineries and haul to some place near Redding. Then we'd loop back to the pipeline terminal in Chico, Reno, San Jose, or Fresno and haul diesel or gas to some other place. On occasion we'd reverse the pick-up and delivery points. That implies that the fuel was the same.

    Nowadays fuel qualities may be a tad different because more places have injector and proportioning mechanisms. But fundamentally the fuel business is all about the money and volume. So the inducements to differentiate to increase quality and the capital investment therefor probably continue to take second place to the bottom line. Recall that it's better to sell the sizzle than sell the steak.

    I also worked at Richfield (ARCO), Time, Union 76, and Powerine, terminals as a dispatcher, plant operator, and plant foreman. Banks and owners controlled what product went into what tank. But since they all collaborate, even then one didn't necessarily know who made the fuel. So long as the fuel could make the specification, regardless of whether it was made in Aruba or down the street at the Chevron refinery in Richmond or the Shell refinery in Martinez, it was good to go when released by the guys who controlled the money. Betcha it aint no different today.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. rigjockey

    rigjockey Token Canadian.

    I cant vote on this. I have to partially agree with @SkateBoard . The fuel comes from the same tank at the loading racks. Sure the blend plays a part in the whole thing. The biggest factor is the underground tanks at the particular station. Is there sediment in the tank, How much water already exists in the tank? Algae and what not?

    The tanks at any given station have a life span. If anyone had too much time and money on their hands they could get a testing kit and test a sample.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Fageol

    Fageol Old acid hauler but not too caustic

    Every fuel delivery pump I have ever seen has a 100 mesh or alternate screen or filter. Water won't pass through those screens or filters. I suspect algae won't pass through them either. I suspect that most large storage tanks (at refineries and terminals -- certainly in all of the four terminals where I worked) have water bottoms, i.e. the gas or diesel floats on water. The old reason was that water makes an even surface. Thus when a tank is gauged the measurements are consistent as the surface of the water is flat as opposed to irregularities of a solid surface on the bottom of a tank. Perhaps I'm being a tad parochial as all of the terminals I worked were in the SF Bay Area, a seismically active zone. You might check with tanker skinners, terminal workers, tank cleaners, et al. at the terminals from which the fuel in question is transferred. They might have an idea of the condition of the tanks.

    As mentioned, I'm fairly sure that very little crap gets into commercially sold diesel fuel or gasoline. But there can be no doubt that the fuel blend has a pronounced effect on power. The C-15s (most of which were pre-Acert) suffered what seemed to be a 10% power loss when burning winter blend diesel. Evidently Btu's are sacrificed for anti-gel properties. The winter blend didn't affect N14s or ISXs as much as the Cats IMHO. BTW I'm not a Cummins fan or a Cat fan. The only engine that scares me are the Detroits that succeeded the old 12.7s. It looks like it would take a skilled mechanic an hour just to get to where the exhaust manifold hooks to the head. Maybe there's a flat rate manual that could verify the basis of such a fear. I think that I strayed from the subject.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. rigjockey

    rigjockey Token Canadian.

    Fantastic answer! The only reason I mentioned water and the rest of it is because I have fueled at a place regularly that, Regularly ran out of fuel and we pumped the bottom of the tank. No charge! Because they just dumped crap into our side tanks.

    Now. Water I question because when I fueled aircraft we took sample every morning and did clarity, buoyancy tests.
  13. Fageol

    Fageol Old acid hauler but not too caustic

    Your post brought to mind a question about an observation. Because I used to be banker for fishermen who operate in coastal Alaska which is largely remots, because I lived and worked in the Alaska Bush for 15 years, and because I fly in my son-in-law's 185, Scout, or 206 at least a couple of times per year, I have observed quite a few skilled pilots (among them my son-in-law who quit counting his left seat time (with the exception of the Scout) after 4,000 hours) and a few less skilled ones. If we are flying in a reciprocating engine airplane, invariably before takeoff, even if they have not fueled, they pilots check for water in their fuel. Is this practice just an abundance of caution or is this practice based on the known variations in the weather, particularly humidity and temperature that can cause condensation in fuel tanks?
    • Like Like x 1
  14. rigjockey

    rigjockey Token Canadian.

    So, Like you are kind of saying, A pilot checks the water content in their AV fuel even in warm temps on the ground because the temps in the air can be very cold.
    Truckers can see themselves in -30 temps. The water content should be of concern In aviation the test results are verified and signed off on. Why should we not expect the same? A driver gets stuck in say, Nebraska in -30 temps because they bought bad fuel. The fuel stations are willing to make a declaration the clarity, Having no Dye in it, Should we not expect the fuel not leave a driver frozen on the side of the road?
    • Like Like x 2
  15. 8978

    8978 ** Commie Express ** Supporter

    When I owned my Piper I checked the fuel in 3 places every time before I flew. The checker looks like the tube from a turkey baster. You just push it against the petcock and fuel comes out. One under each wing fuel tank and one under the engine cowl.
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Duck

    Duck Quack Supporter

    I was taught it's part of the pre-flight inspection, before you even move the plane & shake up the fuel tanks. There are little thingies on the bottoms of the wings and you use a little glass tube thing like what Skateboard said.

    Small single engine planes without turbo aren't going to encounter freezing temps on a summer day though, because they can't go much over 10-12,000 feet before the air gets too thin & the engine loses power. It's just done to check for water & sediment, .. stuff you don't want getting into the carburetor anyway.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. rigjockey

    rigjockey Token Canadian.

    I was at the gas station purchasing a coffee and the nice Indian lady asked are you having gas today? I said no just the coffee and then I farted after paying for the coffee on the way out.
    • Like Like x 4
  18. 8978

    8978 ** Commie Express ** Supporter

    My plane maxed out around 10,000. It was like riding down a bumpy road. It would stall, recover, stall, recover and keep going. Since it was a low wing there was never a worry about getting into a spin when doing an uncoordinated turn while stalling.

    I had carburetor ice once. Hit the carb heat and the engine almost quit. I almost turned the carb heat off but that's a big mistake. That's when the carb turns to ice even more and that's the end of it.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. 8978

    8978 ** Commie Express ** Supporter

    • Like Like x 2
  20. Fageol

    Fageol Old acid hauler but not too caustic

    No doubt RJ is a class act from whom each of us might learn a lot. My base (as opposed to basic) training took place at Richmond Fire Department Stations 1, 4, and 7. At these places, farts were evaluated at three levels: Volume, tone, and bouquet. Since there were a number of variables, e.g. diet, exercise, etc. many would criticize the methodology of basic production and the evaluations thereof.

    Many presumed to sit in judgement on us and those evaluations or those (i.e. outsiders) -- I know it's difficult for you, the reader, to imagine such an unmanly thing. We would generally brush off their criticism by terming our evaluations stochastic processes. Since the term "stochastic" has more than two syllables most of those self-appointed critics thought that we, noble firefighters, knew whereof we spoke. As usual we didn't. "If you can't .. baffle them with BS" is an amazingly effective tool. It's been working for years in DC.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
    • Like Like x 4

Share This Page