Division of Standards Survey Shows Most Gas Stations Following Octane Rules Heading into Memorial Day Weekend
Survey of 183 octane levels at 86 stations finds no violations, however some stations run into problems with proper price changes
BOSTON - Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - Massachusetts drivers can get behind the wheel this Memorial Day confident that gas stations around the state are pumping fuel at the proper octane levels, but in a period of high costs and daily price fluctuation some stations are improperly changing prices at the pump.
A review of 183 octane levels at 86 stations across the state found that every station checked passed inspection. Traditionally, regular gasoline is 87 octane and premium is listed at 93 octane. Higher-octane gas is more expensive, and consumers need to be assured they are purchasing a product at the desired octane level.
In the last month, however, four stations have been fined for charging consumers a higher price at the pump than listed on signage. In those cases, consumers may have been misled by price signs that suggested a lower price than the actual price.
"Consumers should remember that the price they are paying for gas is not the price on the sign at the road, but the price on the pump," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Before pumping gas, take that one extra moment to make sure the pump price matches the street price. If it doesn't, talk to the manager immediately."
Earlier this month, the Division of Standards denied appeals from two stations, Sam's Citgo at 400 Main St., Sturbridge, and Medford Square Gas, 1 Mystic Ave., Medford, after the stations improperly advertised gas prices. Since then, two more stations were found to be setting computer pumps higher than the advertised price. The Hess Station at 416 Lee Burbank Highway, Revere, was fined $250; and the Sunoco Station at 69 Fellsway West, Medford, was fined $1,900. Sunoco Station is appealing the fine.
The Division of Standards inspects gas stations throughout the year for octane readings, pump accuracy, and other areas to ensure consumers getting the gas they are paying for at the appropriate price. Inspections before Memorial Day are an annual effort by the Division of Standards, and this year's results are similar to past years', as gas stations have consistently met state regulations regarding pump pricing and octane levels. In 2010 and 2011, a total of 314 pre-Memorial Day octane inspections found one violation.
"Consumers cannot check the octane level of gas themselves at the pump, so there is a trust factor on the part of the consumer that the gas station owner or manager is complying with the rules," said Charles Carroll, the Director of the Division of Standards. "Our inspections have found strong compliance in this area, and we applaud gas stations for adhering to these standards."
In an effort to keep consumers informed as to how they can save money while traveling this holiday weekend and throughout the summer, the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Standards today urged drivers to follow guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission in order to achieve their car's best mileage.
Drive More Efficiently:
· Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
· Stop aggressive driving. Avoiding "jackrabbit" starts and stops around town can improve your gas mileage by up to five percent.
· Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel, money and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait.
· Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
· Carpooling and ride sharing provides savings for you and others.
· Using overdrive gears and cruise control improves fuel economy on a highway.
· Remove excess weight from the trunk. Having 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car's fuel economy by up to 2 percent.
· Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by 5 percent.
Maintain Your Car:
· Keeping your engine tuned to the manufacturer's specifications can increase gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
· Keeping tires properly inflated and aligned can increase gas mileage up to three percent.
· Change oil regularly. Use the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil.
· Look for oil that carries the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute. These motor oils contain friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.
· Replacing air filters regularly can increase gas mileage up to 10 percent.
· Use the Octane Level You Need:
· Use the octane level recommended for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher octane gas than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit.
The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards enforces laws, rules, and regulations relating to weights and measures and the use of weighing and measuring devices in commercial transactions. It consistently checks item pricing and pricing methods at retailers throughout Massachusetts. The Division is part of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. For more on the Division and the Office, visit http://www.mass.gov/consumer and the Office's Consumer Connections blog, and follow the Office on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.