There have been a half dozen surveys performed by the California Air Resources Board in California from December, 1977 to July, 1982 to determine the rate of vehicle misfueling in California. There has been great concern raised over misfueling which leads to the poisoning of catalysts and the subsequent increases in emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen. The results of observing refueling at service stations indicate a misfueling rate of about 2% which is much lower than what the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency figures indicate.
Misfueling at self-serve stations is more than twice that noted at full-serve stations. The primary reasons given by motorists for misfueling are cheaper price of unleaded gasoline, performance (including pinging) and unavailability of unleaded fuel. Misfueling was accomplished primarily as a result of a modified restrictor or filler neck.
The data also indicates that there are some differences in misfueling rates by location and that misfueling generally increases with age of vehicle.