Gasoline Marketing:

Octane Mislabeling in New York City

RCED-87-180BR: Published: Aug 18, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the potential problem of octane cheating, or the sale of gasoline with an octane rating lower than the posted rating, in New York City.

GAO found that: (1) octane mislabelling has increased since 1981 and involves almost 8 percent of the city's gasoline stations; (2) almost 20 percent of the citations issued were for violations 4.0 octane points or more below the posted rating; (3) no single source of octane mislabelling exists, nor is the problem unique to any one type of gasoline station; (4) the city issued most of the citations in Brooklyn and the fewest in Staten Island; (5) although using a lower-rated octane gasoline than required could have a negative long-term effect on an automobile, using higher-octane gasoline can easily correct most cases; and (6) a station that intentionally mislabels its gasoline can realize profits greater than the city's maximum $500 fine for octane cheating.

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