Getting what you pay for at the pump
Testing gasoline octane
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The price of gas might reach an all-time high this year. The national average is already at $3.78 per gallon and in West Michigan, the price is even higher. That being the case, drivers want to know they're getting what they're paying for. That is the job of the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
"The Department of Agriculture is responsible for both the quality and the quantity that consumers get and pay for at the stations," says Robert DeRubeis, the Weights and Measures Program Manager at the Department of Agriculture.
Quality means testing the gasoline to make sure it is the right octane, and to make sure it doesn't contain water or sediment.
"With respect to quantity, there is testing of the gasoline dispensers throughout Michigan to ensure every consumer is getting what they pay for," explains DeRubeis.
The department also makes sure the advertising is correct. "When we get to the station we check to make sure the roadside advertising matches what is on the display on the panel," says Chris Chamberlai, Weights and Measures inspector.
The Department of Agriculture uses motor fuels inspection units that travel the state looking into complaints and inspecting stations. The have the ability to check the accuracy of the pumps.
"After we hit five gallons on their display, we measure it up in cubic inches on a test measure," explains Chamberlai. In other words, he pumps five gallons of gas at the station and double checks to make it is actually five gallons.
The department can also field test octane levels with machines that tell you within 30 seconds if it is good, but for a more accurate picture they send the sample to the lab.
According to regulators gas stations around the state are 96% compliant. So the chances of you not getting what you pay for is slim.