Tips from NCWM for Buying Fuel this Memorial Day Weekend

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The National Conference on Weights and Measures is providing tips for holiday travelers to protect their wallets and their vehicles this Memorial Day weekend.

Man filling his car at the gas station.

Get waht you pay for at the pump.

Consumers should also learn to think in terms of miles per dollar instead of miles per gallon when selecting fuel.

The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) urges holiday travelers to pay attention when buying fuel this Memorial Day weekend. There are many tips that can help travelers protect your wallets and your vehicles.

Weights and measures officials perform inspections at gas stations to verify that consumers get what they pay for, but they do much more than test for accuracy. They look at customer displays and labeling on the dispensers. They also look at receipt formatting and accuracy. They inspect inside the dispenser for fuel leaks and to make sure security seals are in place to inhibit tampering with the accuracy of the meter.

In the past year, inspections have been expanded to look for credit card skimming devices that steal the customer’s credit card information for fraudulent purposes. Inspectors at the state and local level have teamed up with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service to investigate and prosecute the criminals who install these skimmer devices without the knowledge of the retailer.

In many states, these same weights and measures officials take fuel samples for laboratory testing to ensure the quality of the fuel meets mandatory fuel quality standards.

Here are some good habits that NCWM recommends to all consumers when filling their tanks:

  •     Look for a Weights and Measures approval sticker on the dispenser.
  •     Make sure the price on the dispenser matches street sign.
  •     Make sure the total price and gallons are at zero before opening the nozzle.
  •     Remove gas cans from plastic-lined pickup beds before filling to avoid a static fire.
  •     Touch something metal before grasping the nozzle from the car to avoid a static fire.
  •     Pay inside to avoid credit card skimmers at the dispenser, or.
  •     Buy from dispenser that is in plain view of the cashier to avoid credit card skimmers
  •     Always get a receipt and retain it in case you need to report a problem later.
  •     Make sure receipt matches displayed sale information

Consumers should also learn to think in terms of miles per dollar instead of miles per gallon when selecting fuel. The lowest price per gallon may actually cost more because of decreased mileage. The only way to know your best miles per dollar is to experiment with fuel options. An example would be if 89 octane fuel costs 10% more than 87 octane, but provides a 15% increase in mileage. This is only an example, and would not be true with every vehicle. Consumers can easily experiment to find out what is best for their car and the savings can be significant over time. With flex-fuel vehicles there are even more price and mileage options for various levels of ethanol content.

The National Conference on Weights and Measures is a professional nonprofit association of state and local weights and measures officials, federal agencies, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. NCWM has developed national weights and measures standards since 1905. The organization brings the right interests together to keep pace with innovative advancements in the marketplace.

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Don Onwiler
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