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I have always wondered...

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I have often wondered about gas stations and octane. They could make more money by 87 octane gas in their 93 octane tanks, was always leery of this. I have a gas station near that I always got 92 octane from and never had a problem. Yesterday went to a track and stopped at a different station and got 93 octane. I thought this would be better. Well for the first time I had some engine knock at low rpms at the track. Is it possible that this gas station put low octane gas in that tank and selling it for high octane prices. The 93 octane was purchased at a more name brand gas station while the 92 octane is a discount gas.

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I suppose that is possible if the owner was crooked, and I'm sure it has happened in the past. Another possibility is that the station may not have gotten a lot of people buying 93 octane gas for a while, so the gas had been sitting for a very long time in their tank and had begun to degrade.

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I know testing and certification of pumps and fuel at the pump varies widely by state. Here in Colorado they test and certify pumps for quantity (1 gallon registered is 1 gallon dispensed) also they test the blend making sure it meets the minimum requirments (includes oxygenated, ethanol fuels) once a year However Nebraska (a state I am familiar with) only tests the blend and not the quantity. However today with the sophistication of the pumps (electronic) and the fact that there are few "mom and pop" fuel stations. I think fraud/malfunctions like this is a lot rarer than in the days of mechanical pumps. In those days there were a heck of a lot of drive offs.

The thing I worry about is contamination. Time and time again I see the fuel truck in the winter just kicking the snow off the top of the valve and hooking his hose up.

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I know testing and certification of pumps and fuel at the pump varies widely by state. Here in Colorado they test and certify pumps for quantity (1 gallon registered is 1 gallon dispensed) also they test the blend making sure it meets the minimum requirments (includes oxygenated, ethanol fuels) once a year However Nebraska (a state I am familiar with) only tests the blend and not the quantity. However today with the sophistication of the pumps (electronic) and the fact that there are few "mom and pop" fuel stations. I think fraud/malfunctions like this is a lot rarer than in the days of mechanical pumps. In those days there were a heck of a lot of drive offs.

The thing I worry about is contamination. Time and time again I see the fuel truck in the winter just kicking the snow off the top of the valve and hooking his hose up.

You'd be surprised to know that all underground tanks that have been in use for any real period of time contain INCHES of water then? It's true.

Stop in and ask the clerk if he can print you a sheet from the Veeder-Root machine (probably the most common tank management system, although there are others), if he knows what you're talking about, you'll see there's water in their tanks all the time.

If you were going to short change your customers, putting 87 octane in the 93 octane tank is not the most effective way to do it. There's easier, less likely to be caught methods than that thanks to electronic gas pumps. Not that I think it happens often, but the best way to make sure it never happens to you is to pump quantities of 5 or 10 gallons exclusively. These are the quantities most pump certifiers use and thus these are going to be accurate, where a dubious owner will set the pump to deliver 3.2 gallons but register 4 or deliver 12 gallons but register 15... They'll make sure it works correctly for 5/10.

Now as far as your 93 octane... most times, you're paying additional money that goes out the exhaust pipe and gives you zero benefits.

Like others have said, it's likely that 93 octane fuel could be very old as people try to pinch pennies wisely skipping the "premium" fuel. Your carb could be a little gunky. There may have been some sediment that passed through your filter but lodged in an orifice. There's plenty of things one could speculate about, but putting "low" gas in the "high" tank is the least likely.

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>>>>>>>>>>>They could make more money by 87 octane gas in their 93 octane tanks, was always leery of this. <<<<<<<<<<<<

>>>>>>>>>>I suppose that is possible if the owner was crooked<<<<<<<<<<<<<

There's more to it than that. The station owner doesn't put the fuel in the tanks. They contract with a fuel distributor that does that. The tank service ports are marked by type and grade of fuel. A distributor truck driver is not going to commit fraud and assume the liabilty for his company by knowingly pumping the wrong grade of fuel into a tank, whether that's what the station owner wants to do or not.

And if the station owner tried to get a distributor to do that, the distributor would be obligated to report it.

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Not all name brand station owners buy the name brand fuel. Just because it says 'Shell' on the sign, does not mean that is what is in the tank. It usually does but not always. I would not put it past a slimey operator to buy the minimum name brand fuel he has to then buy generic for the rest and have the driver put it in what ever tank the operator wants for an extra $20 and a free slurpee.

You have to remember, pennies add up and there are a lot of unethical people out there.

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>>>>>>>>>>>They could make more money by 87 octane gas in their 93 octane tanks, was always leery of this. <<<<<<<<<<<<

>>>>>>>>>>I suppose that is possible if the owner was crooked<<<<<<<<<<<<<

There's more to it than that. The station owner doesn't put the fuel in the tanks. They contract with a fuel distributor that does that. The tank service ports are marked by type and grade of fuel. A distributor truck driver is not going to commit fraud and assume the liabilty for his company by knowingly pumping the wrong grade of fuel into a tank, whether that's what the station owner wants to do or not.

And if the station owner tried to get a distributor to do that, the distributor would be obligated to report it.

True, but who's to say the pump even pulls out of the 93 tank when 93 is selected? I'm sure if someone really wanted to they could make the pump put out 87 no matter what, but I think it is very unlikely do to the trouble you would be in if caught. I think that the gas being old is a more likely situation.

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Not all name brand station owners buy the name brand fuel. Just because it says 'Shell' on the sign, does not mean that is what is in the tank. It usually does but not always. I would not put it past a slimey operator to buy the minimum name brand fuel he has to then buy generic for the rest and have the driver put it in what ever tank the operator wants for an extra $20 and a free slurpee.

You have to remember, pennies add up and there are a lot of unethical people out there.

The brand is pretty much gone, all the fuel for the area I'm in comes out of the same tank farm. There is some slight difference in the additives some times, but it's not like they buy Shell from a tank farm at point A and Exxon from a tank farm at point B.

Here's the tank farm for my area: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Montello,+PA&hl=en&ll=40.31697,-76.035004&spn=0.01214,0.018218&hnear=Montello,+Spring,+Berks,+Pennsylvania&t=h&z=16&vpsrc=6

The sign out front says Sunoco, but everybody from no-name stations to other stations have trucks delivering from that farm.

True, but who's to say the pump even pulls out of the 93 tank when 93 is selected? I'm sure if someone really wanted to they could make the pump put out 87 no matter what, but I think it is very unlikely do to the trouble you would be in if caught. I think that the gas being old is a more likely situation.
This would actually be a lot easier to change, but not very profitable compared to other things a crooked owner could do. If you're gonna do that, you may as well double-dip cards or advertise a different price on the sign out front than on the pumps and make sure all the receipt printers are empty so it would be difficult for someone to prove it went on more than just a "whoops!" when they got caught.

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You'd be surprised to know that all underground tanks that have been in use for any real period of time contain INCHES of water then? It's true.

Stop in and ask the clerk if he can print you a sheet from the Veeder-Root machine (probably the most common tank management system, although there are others), if he knows what you're talking about, you'll see there's water in their tanks all the time.

See know, if you do know what your talking about you would also know that the fuel pickup's are raised from the bottom of the storage tank so the don't pick any water up or did you forget to mention that? And that most tanks have minimal amounts of water in them you will not get any water in your tank. You are more likely to get water in your tank from condensation then you are the gas station. But we didn't think of that either did we? No. No we didn't, how could we have a witch hunt if we did?

Oh and don't forget that there is a reason for storing gas under ground is because it last a long time in that environment.

@ The OP what probably happened is that you ended up buying form a gas station with ethanol in it's gas.

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@ The OP what probably happened is that you ended up buying form a gas station with ethanol in it's gas.

If it is rated 93 octane (by the (M+R)/2 method) then it should be above 93 octane regardless of whether it has ethanol or not.

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See know, if you do know what your talking about you would also know that the fuel pickup's are raised from the bottom of the storage tank so the don't pick any water up or did you forget to mention that? And that most tanks have minimal amounts of water in them you will not get any water in your tank. You are more likely to get water in your tank from condensation then you are the gas station. But we didn't think of that either did we? No. No we didn't, how could we have a witch hunt if we did?

Oh and don't forget that there is a reason for storing gas under ground is because it last a long time in that environment.

@ The OP what probably happened is that you ended up buying form a gas station with ethanol in it's gas.

I never said it wasn't. I'm addressing the guy who was concerned that snow might end up in the tank, which is a minimal amount of water content compared to the condensation which builds up over time by repeatedly exchanging air in and out of the tank.

Where you came up with the witch hunt is beyond me, but for some bizarre reason, you seem incredibly offended.

Edited by Smacaroni

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I never said it wasn't. I'm addressing the guy who was concerned that snow might end up in the tank, which is a minimal amount of water content compared to the condensation which builds up over time by repeatedly exchanging air in and out of the tank.

Where you came up with the witch hunt is beyond me, but for some bizarre reason, you seem incredibly offended.

I was more trying to start a flame war then anything 👍 just venting:blush:

But now I don't know what to do someone on the internet doesn't want to talk shit, I must say this is a first....

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I've worked retail. I've worked in restaurants. I've worked in different gas stations one which could easily have 200 customers an hour walk through (and were stoned - not kidding they bought all the baked goods in the store in record time). I took a little break and worked with hazardous waste wearing bio hazard style suits and a gas mask eight hours a day. And now? I work in advertising/media where I occasionally receive phone calls from angry people whose talent would best be suited to shaming politicians - in fact, I think they believe I am some how connected to the material they see.

You have to try a lot harder than that to ruffle my feathers.

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