FAQs

The Division of Oil and Public Safety (OPS) is responsible for the enforcement of weights and measures laws related to the quality and quantity, and labeling of petroleum products retailed in Colorado.

Colorado fuel product statutes adopt by reference the most current applicable American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications for gasoline and diesel fuel.

We randomly and routinely sample products in the marketplace for quality to ensure Colorado drivers are receiving products that meet specifications. We also inspect and verify the calibration of all retail motor fuel dispensers, to ensure that these devices are accurately dispensing fuel products. In addition, we respond to consumer complaints to prevent the sale of substandard products.

Our field inspectors routinely collect product samples from retail stations, bulk storage plants, refineries and terminals located all over the state. Product samples are also collected in response to consumer complaints and tips. The samples are then taken to the OPS petroleum laboratory for testing. Samples are tested using procedures developed by ASTM International. Several tests are performed on each product sample.

After it is determined that the fuel product does not meet specifications, the off-spec product is placed off sale, and appropriate enforcement action is taken. These actions include having the off-spec product pumped out and replaced with a product that has been tested and meets specifications.

Our inspectors routinely inspect all retail motor fuel dispenser meters in Colorado using certified test measures to ensure they are dispensing fuel accurately. If a meter is not dispensing accurately and is “shorting” the consumer, our inspectors will place that meter out of service until adjusted and calibrated by a qualified technician. If a meter is not dispensing accurately and is “giving fuel” to the consumer, our inspectors will notify the facility and take no further action.

There may or may not be anything wrong. Many vehicle owners' manuals list the volume of usable space in the tank. The usable space does not include the space within the filler pipe or the vapor headspace in the tank that allows for the expansion of the product. When you combine the usable space and this additional space, the amount of product that can be put in the tank is greater than the tanks stated volume in the owner's manual. Sometimes manufacturers change the design or manufacturing process, which can result in a change to the capacity of the tank, and the owner's manual is not updated. Check with your dealer. Also, report your concern to the Division of Oil and Public Safety, and we will have an inspector verify the calibration of the pump.

You should use the octane level fuel for your car that is recommended by the manufacturer. Purchasing a higher octane fuel than the engine was designed to run on will not make it perform better or increase its horsepower.

If you experience problems after purchasing fuel or if you believe that you did not receive the amount of fuel for which you paid, you should file a consumer complaint or call the OPS Petroleum Laboratory complaint line at 303-866-4967.

Timeliness is very important, so you should call as soon as you recognize that you have a possible fuel quality problem.

The amount of time between when you purchase the fuel and when you file a complaint will determine whether an OPS Oil Inspector can obtain a representative sample of the same product that potentially caused you a problem.

Please provide OPS with the following information:

  • Facility name and address
  • Date the product was purchased
  • Type, grade and volume of product purchased
  • Pump number
  • Specific engine symptoms related to use of the product purchased

This will help the laboratory focus on analysis specific to the symptoms. Gasoline and Diesel fuel float on top of water, so water remains at the bottom of the storage tank until it is physically removed.

We will notify you of the results of the testing upon completion of all analysis. If the inspector encounters water in the fuel, the product is immediately placed off sale, and you would be notified that same day. Laboratory analytical results for other tests are usually available within in a few days after sample collection.

Not usually, however we will send an inspector to the facility to collect a representative sample of the product that we have received a complaint on. There are specific sampling and handling requirements that our inspectors follow for each sample collected.

You witnessed a phenomenon called "meter creep" or "pump jump". This sometimes occurs when after activating a pump and selecting a product, the dispenser registers a small transaction, usually a few cents, even though no product was dispensed. There are several causes for this phenomenon, such as a leak in the system, thermal contraction, or malfunctioning equipment. This is usually not a deliberate attempt on the part of the gas station, and they should not charge you for product not dispensed. Please end the transaction and inform the station attendant of the incident. Ask the attendant to restart the transaction at zero. Should this happen again please call our office and we will send out an inspector to check this pump and make sure it gets it fixed.

Colorado laws do not require gas stations to post prices on street signs. However, if prices are posted on street signs or anywhere else to attract customers, they are required to exactly match the price displayed on the dispenser. A consumer is entitled to the price posted on the street sign if it is lower than that displayed on the dispenser during the transaction. If you notice a discrepancy, notify the station attendant immediately so that they can correct the price on the posted signs, and adjust the amount you owe for your fuel purchase. Also, notify our office as soon as possible so we can ensure the situation is addressed immediately, and take appropriate enforcement action if necessary.

Please notify the attendant at the station immediately so that they address the spill, and inspect the nozzle. Then contact the Division of Oil and Public Safety as soon as possible. We will send an inspector out to the station to try to duplicate what happened to you and verify the proper operation of the nozzle. If the nozzle is found to be defective we will place it off-sale until repaired or replaced.

Most portable fuel containers are not considered accurate test measures, as they have room to hold more than their stated volume to allow for product expansion and to prevent overfilling. This additional volume allows for filling them up with more than their stated volume. Our inspectors routinely inspect and calibrate retail motor fuel dispensers, using certified test measures to ensure they are dispensing fuel accurately. However, like any other mechanical device, the meters on dispensers can wear over time, compromising their accuracy.