Weights and measures officials throughout the State routinely inspect gasoline and diesel fuels sold for use in motor vehicles. These inspections serve to assure that fuel dispensers are properly labeled and that they meet appropriate quality standards. Each year about 4.5 billion gallons of gasoline is distributed from about 180 distribution terminals and sold from 8,000 retail stations in the State.
New York's labeling requirements for gasoline mirror the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 16 CFR Section 306. All retail gasoline dispensers must have a label showing the octane rating of the fuel. New York has adopted a similar standard for diesel fuel. Diesel fuels must be labeled with the grade and the cetane rating of the fuel.
You should buy gasoline with the octane rating recommended by your automobile manufacturer. Consult your owner's manual for information on choosing the correct fuel for the model and engine configuration in your car or truck. According to the FTC, buying gasoline with a higher rating may not improve engine performance or increase mileage to justify the increased cost.
New York has adopted the quality standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for both gasoline and diesel fuel. The ASTM standards are developed by Committee D-2 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants and specify fuels that will perform adequately in most vehicles. The ASTM Committee works on a consensus basis and has members from the petroleum industry, automobile manufacturers, and federal and state regulatory officials.
Fuels must also meet the Clean Air standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). These standards specify fuels that will burn cleanly and produce minimal emissions in a properly tuned engine.
Because of the many variables involved with creating a fuel that will perform in a variety of vehicles, conformance with the standards does not guarantee that the fuel will perform acceptably in yours.
State inspectors sample gasoline and diesel fuel at terminals at least monthly. Compliance at the terminals is usually very high as the petroleum industry takes great pains to see that the supply meets the ASTM standards. Municipal inspectors sample gasoline and diesel fuels at the retail stations on a random basis. They try to inspect about 60% of the stations in each municipality each year. In addition to taking the samples, municipal inspectors look for other problems like water contamination. Municipalities are reimbursed by the state for their work under this program.
The terminal and retail samples are shipped to a contract laboratory where they are tested for conformance with the standards. We find only a small fraction of samples that fail to comply with the standards each year.