For Immediate Release - May 23, 2014

Massachusetts Division of Standards Promotes Reliability of Pricing and Octane at Gas Station Pumps

Testing Results Show Widespread Compliance with State Standards

BOSTON – As drivers hit the road for Memorial Day trips this weekend, they can be confident that Massachusetts gas pumps are giving them the octane grade that they have purchased and that they paid the correct price for their fuel.

“While traveling for summer vacation, the last thing anyone wants to think about is whether or not they are being ripped off at the pump,” said Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Barbara Anthony. “The results of these inspections mean that consumers can fill up at Massachusetts pumps and enjoy their travel with peace of mind.”

During the past 12 months, Division of Standards inspectors tested 960 octane samples from gas stations all over Massachusetts. Only 26 samples were found to have been slightly below the octane grade marked on the dispenser. In these cases, the difference in octane was minor and found not to be significant. Filling a vehicle’s gas tank with gasoline of an octane grade that is not specified for that vehicle could seriously damage its engine. By regularly inspecting samples of gasoline, the Division of Standards protects consumers against unscrupulous businesses and costly repairs.

“The results of this and last year’s inspections show that Massachusetts gas stations reliably sell their gasoline as advertised,” said Director of the Division of Standards Charles Carroll. “We have had exceptional compliance with pricing. I believe that due to our continual inspections, especially when gas prices spike, businesses are accurately conveying the price of their gasoline to their customers.”

In addition to octane sample tests, the Division’s field staff performed three-point inspections of motor fuel pricing. These inspections include a check on the price displayed at the road-side sign, pump signs, and the computer price that calculates the total cost of the gas purchase. These checks insure that the advertised price of gas accurately reflects the price paid by consumers at the pump. Any changes in the price of gas within the station’s computer system must be reflected on the station’s signage before going into effect. Added costs for using a credit card to purchase gas must also be clearly indicated on all price signs.

Consumers can contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at 888-283-3757 to report issues with gas advertising.

Undersecretary Anthony and Director Carroll offered consumers the following tips to save money and travel more efficiently:

  • Buy the right octane. Do not overbuy octane. Check your owner’s manual for its fuel octane specifications. Buying a higher octane level will not help your mileage and may damage your engine.
  • Remove unnecessary weight. Do not store heavy objects in your vehicle when they are not needed. The added weight will reduce the efficiency of your engine.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Keep your tires inflated to their requirements and have them rotated on schedule. Regularly check your motor oil in case it needs to be refilled.
  • Combine errands. Before you head out, consider if you can make multiple stops before heading home. Continuously driving from home to different stores will take a toll on your gas tank.
  • Consider other forms of travel. Most trips taken by car are less than two miles. If you can, walk, ride a bike, or take public transit for short trips and save your gas for longer rides.
  • Avoid idling. Leaving your car running while it is not in motion will waste gas. Excessive idling produces unnecessary air pollution and is illegal, punishable by a fine of between $100 and $500.

The Patrick Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation 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. Visit the Office’s website at Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and on Twitter, @Mass_Consumer