For Immediate Release - May 21, 2008

With Record High Prices & Memorial Day around the Corner, State Inspects Gas Stations across Massachusetts

Checks on Pricing & Octane Authenticity, Few violations found

READING - Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - With regular unleaded gas prices nearing the $4 per gallon mark and the summer travel season set to begin this Memorial Day weekend, state inspectors have been conducting statewide spot-checks of service stations to ensure Massachusetts consumers are getting exactly what they pay for at the pump.

The Division of Standards, an agency of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, inspected 69 gas stations in 31 communities for price accuracy and octane authenticity. All samples were found to be within acceptable limits of the advertised and posted octane levels. In addition to octane testing and price checks, the Division has received and investigated 173 consumer complaints and certified 1,351 motor fuel meters since January.

"Fortunately for consumers, pricing and fuel-grade violations are the exception and not the rule in Massachusetts," said Charles Carroll, Deputy Director of the Division of Standards. "Unannounced inspections have proved to be a good deterrent over the years. Gas stations are playing fair with their customers because they know the state is watching and that there are financial consequences for deceptive practices."

Valero Oil of Seekonk was issued a $375 fine for setting its pumps' computer price $0.04 higher than the posted price. Officials announced the inspection results - and demonstrated how octane samples are taken - today at the Mobil gas station on Main Street in Reading. To view the survey xls format of    octanesurvey2008.xls  in it's entirety visit www.mass.gov/consumer. The Division will continue to conduct spot-checks throughout the summer travel season.

According to AAA, the average price of regular unleaded gas hit a record high for the fourteenth day in a row on Wednesday, reaching $3.79 in Massachusetts and $3.80 across the country. This marks a $0.39 increase in the state's average gas prices and a 9% increase nationwide since just last month. A year ago at this time, the state's average gas price stood at $3.04.

The high price of fuel may force more Massachusetts consumers to vacation closer to home this year. 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. 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car's fuel economy by up to two percent.
  • Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.

Maintain Your Car:

  • Keeping your engine tuned to the manufacturer's specifications can increase gas mileage by an average of four 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 ten 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.

Looking for a New Car? Consider Fuel Efficiency:

  • Alternative Fuel Vehicles typically operate on fuels such as methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and electricity as designated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Using alternative fuels may reduce harmful pollutants and exhaust emissions. Federal Trade Commission rules require disclosure of all alternative fuel vehicles' cruising ranges and general descriptive information. It's important to understand the mileage on these vehicles' fuel supplies because some don't travel as far as gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles offer another option for car buyers. These vehicles combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to achieve different objectives, such as improved fuel economy and increased power.