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Smack dab in the middle of the holiday traveling season, AAA has just delivered news that is most likely a shock to the (fuel) system and boost to the wallet. DeHaan said the Midwest is now seeing the largest gaps in prices between regular and premium.

If premium is recommended but not required for your vehicle, it may not be worth the extra cost, which can run as high as 25 percent or more than regular gasoline, suggests research out Tuesday. As a result, AAA recommends drivers weigh the potential benefits against the cost of using premium gasoline if their vehicle doesn't require it.

AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.

On Monday, the national gas price average is $2.46, 10 cents cheaper than it was a month ago and one cent cheaper than it was last week. When documenting those findings, AAA then warned drivers what insistence on buying premium was doing to their wallets. Engines have to be calibrated to actually require high-octane fuel in order to benefit from it, according to John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of automotive engineering and fix.

"There's no question that higher-octane premium fuel has the potential to boost a vehicle's fuel economy and performance, however, engines have to be calibrated to require that fuel to see the full benefit", John Nielsen, AAA's Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and fix, said in a statement.

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Of course, there are some vehicles that explicitly say "premium fuel only", which is a good thing to abide by if you don't want your engine to knock when you drive.

Gas prices in Rockford are down more than 5¢ over the past week, bringing the average tank of gas locally below the national rate.

The tested cars were the Audi A3, Cadillac Escalade, Ford F150, Ford Mustang, Jeep Renegade and Mazda Miata. The vehicles AAA tested averaged just a 1.4% increase in horsepower. The minor fuel-economy improvements seen with premium gas in vehicles that don't require it didn't offset the higher fuel costs.

"When it comes to gasoline, "premium" does not mean "better" if your vehicle doesn't require it", Nielsen, said of the AAA study. In those engines, using the higher-octane fuel allows them to run at a higher compression ratio without causing engine knock, leading to more energy in the cylinder.