Consumer Tips for Buying Gas


Weights and measures testing unit 
In today’s automotive society, the purchase of gasoline has become so commonplace we usually take the accuracy of the pump and the quality of the product for granted. Yet, carelessness or improper care or deliberate fraud can occur which may cause inaccuracy or poor quality at the pump. Consumers can protect themselves by taking these simple precautions.


Make sure the numbers add up:

  • Compare the price on the pump with the roadside advertisement to ensure you are getting the price for your transaction type (cash, credit, club car wash). 
  • Make sure the pump's dial resets to all zeros before you start to pump gas. If the numbers jump at all, reset the dispenser.
  • Check to see that the price per gallon remains the same throughout the pumping process. If the price per gallon changes or the numbers appear to "skip", black out, this could be an indication of fraud.
  • Make sure the meter stops running when you stop the pump. ​
  • When done pumping the gasoline, check the price computation to make sure it is correct. Remember pump prices round up to the nearest whole cent.

Check the gauges on the vehicle and on the pump:

  • Check the vehicle gas gauge before and after filling up to ensure the new reading corresponds with the amount of gas purchased. Remember gasoline gauges, gasoline cans and tank sizes vary and the sizes are approximate because they are made to allow for product expansion.
  • Always get a receipt even when paying by cash. The receipt is your proof of purchase should any problems arise after your purchase. Check to be sure you have been charged the correct amount on your receipt.

Shop around for the best quality, price and service:

  • Keep track of the miles per gallon and go to the station where the best value is received.
  • Do not buy more octane then you need. Check your owner's manual for octane recommendations and purchase the lowest octane gasoline your vehicle uses without your engine pinging or knocking. Once you know your vehicle's octane level, use higher octane only under stressful driving conditions such as pulling heavy trailers or boats. Using too low an octane can cause engine damage. Using too high an octane for the driving conditions of your vehicle will not give you more power or better mileage.
  • Find the brand of gasoline that works best for your vehicle. Keep track of your miles per gallon. Although almost all gasoline comes from the same pipelines, the additive packages differ greatly between brands.
  • Shop around for the best quality, price and service. You've spent thousands of dollars on your vehicle so it makes sense to frequent a reputable location that provides you with good service.

Consumers who suspect they have an incorrect measurement should contact:

Maryland Department of Agriculture
Weights and Measures Section

Consumers question the octane rating or gasoline quality should contact:

Comptroller of Maryland
Motor Fuel, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Unit

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