For Immediate Release - May 25, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration’s Division of Standards Survey Shows Most Gas Stations Following Octane Rules

Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Standards Survey Shows Most Gas Stations Following Octane Rules

99.5 percent pass inspections; one station cited for missing signs

BOSTON -  May 25, 2012 -  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 and the vast majority of stations are adhering to signage regulations.

The Division of Standards inspects gas stations throughout the year for octane readings, pump accuracy, and other areas to ensure consumers are getting the gas they are paying for at the appropriate price. The review of 212 octane levels at 87 stations across the state found that every station but one passed inspection. One other station was cited for failing to have proper signage.

"Bay State drivers should take a few extra moments when they pump their gas to make sure that the price at the pump matches the price on the street sign," said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "We're also recommending that drivers take steps to save gas this holiday and save themselves money."

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 2011, a total of 186 inspections at 86 stations found zero violations.

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

Nine Division of Standards field inspectors cover every region of the Commonwealth from Pittsfield to Provincetown, making unscheduled visits to gasoline stations to monitor not only prices but also advertising practices and product quality. In March, Governor Deval Patrick directed state inspectors to step up oversight efforts to guard against potential price gouging. Those inspections were incorporated into the Division's annual review of gas stations.

The two stations cited were:

  • King Petroleum in Dedham. The station's premium gasoline was found to be 90.4 octane and the station also had price sign violations. The business was fined $1,175. The station passed inspection on a second visit.
  • Green Valley Oil Company in New Bedford was cited for missing price signs. The station was fined $100.

"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, 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 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. The Office is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its Facebook page and on Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.