WATCHDOG: Ohio is one of three states without gas quality testing
There are only three states in the country that do not have statewide fuel quality testing implemented, and Ohio is one of them, along with Nebraska and Alaska.
The only testing done in Ohio is on gas pumps to make sure you're getting the right quantity, but it doesn't check the quality.
This means, there is always a chance the gas you pump could be contaminated if water, dirt or another fuel gets mixed in while being transported or stored underground.
If a car has "bad gas," this can ruin the engine and cost thousands to replace.
"There's a wide variety of issues here that can cause some very significant, expensive damage to vehicles," Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said, "farm equipment, cars, lawnmowers... those types of things."
Keith has been advocating for testing over the past 20 years but said legislation never gained enough momentum.
He said part of the problem is, not all stakeholders see a need for this, including the retail industry which has given pushback.
Testing authority lies in the hands of the legislature, or the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which said they "have not seen evidence of statewide fuel-quality issues that would necessitate the development of a statewide testing program."
The agency that represents retail fuel and educates policymakers, Ohio Energy and Convenience Association, also said they believe testing gasoline quality is not needed.
"There are instances where there can be problems with product, but those are so rare, that a testing program from our vantage point would not be necessary in our opinion," Executive Director Alex Boehnke said.
Others argue the lack of testing means there's no way to be sure.
"Anecdotally, there are people out there who have found water in their cars that have cost them thousands of dollars worth of damage or sediments in the tanks," Keith said, "I just don't think we can say it's not a problem because we don't test."
Summit County is the only jurisdiction in the state of Ohio that mandates fuel quality testing.
Being a charter, Summit County has the power to make its own laws, so the county took it upon itself back in 2004 to start testing.
"It [gas] would almost look like coffee because of sediment, because of dirt, debris, that someway makes it into the tank," Summit County Fiscal Office Director of Services Jay Curry said, "In seeing something like that, and knowing what kind of damage it can do to an engine, to a vehicle, there was definitely something that needed to be done."
Back in 2000, a statewide test was done and at that time found up to 25% of 135 Ohio gas stations tested were in violation.
Summit County said after 20 years of their own testing? Virtually no violations.
Keith said he's continuing to push for this change in the law that would at the very least, allow Ohio counties to implement basic gas quality testing. He hopes to see a new bill introduced in 2024.