For Immediate Release - May 27, 2010

State Drivers Can Hit the Road for Memorial Day, Summer Seasons with Confidence in Content of Gasoline

Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards checks octane levels at 237 stations and finds one violation in Attleboro; offers tips for efficient driving

BOSTON - May 27, 2010 - Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the kickoff to the busy summer driving season, and a survey of octane levels at gas stations around the state conducted by the Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards gives drivers confidence that the octane content of the gas they are buying matches or exceeds the number listed on the pump.

Inspectors from the Division of Standards check octane levels at 237 gas stations in the survey, and found one violation, at Quik + Variety at 584 Washington St., Attleboro. In every other instance, the octane level from the test matched or was higher than the octane listed on the pump, as mandated by state law.

Usually, premium gasoline is listed at 93 octane, regular gasoline at 87 octane. Higher-octane gas is more expensive, and consumers need to be assured that they are purchasing a product at the octane level they desire.

"Consumers can be confident that when they are at the gas station, the grade of fuel they are pumping is appropriate," said Charles Carroll, the Director of the Division of Standards. "With the cost of gas near $3, a tank of fuel is a significant expense for many families, and confidence in octane content is important."

At Quik + Variety, the inspection of premium fuel found an octane level of 90.8, not 93 octane. A review of the station's records found a April 29 delivery of 6,000 gallons of regular 87 octane fuel was made, and about 218 gallons were placed in the premium underground storage tank and mixed with premium fuel to reduce the octane level. A civil citation was issued for $375, the maximum allowed by law for the first offense of selling adulterated fuel.

Inspectors also fined a Shell station in Attleboro $500 for not properly posting pricing signs. Debit cards were being charged the credit card price, which is higher than the cash price. A small sign was placed on dispensers informing debit-card users of refunds by going into the station, but without the information on the signage consumers do not realize they are paying higher price. Regulations regarding accurate signage for cash and credit prices were put into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.]

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.

"There is a trust factor in that consumers cannot check the octane at a gas pump before they fill their tank. They rely on the gas station owner or manager doing the right thing," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Our inspections have consistently 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 www.mass.gov/consumer and the Office's Consumer Connections blog, and follow the Office on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.