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ejs4818

Rookie Author
St. Louis

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 11:57:03 AM

Ever wonder if you're really getting what the pump says? Ever try & check it? Or do you trust that it's accurate?

From what I've seen, most drivers have no idea. Many (if not most) buy X dollars of fuel. Many are also clueless about their vehicle's capacity, or the accuracy of it's guage.

I've checked before, using an empty 5 gallon can. Not exactly a perfect test, but it's funny how the level varys from one station to another with the exact same pump reading!
I know they're supposed to be checked, but how often? And how easily is the dispense rate adjusted? (Not accusing, just asking)

If you were short 1/10 gallon for every 5 shown, would you know it? And HOW would you know it? Even if you DO know your tank size, you can't know exactly how much is left in it...
REPLIES (newest first) Post a Reply
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thirty8paces
Champion Author Baltimore

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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2013 8:41:10 AM

Best that I can tell, the pumps in MD are on the up and up.
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MertieMan
Champion Author Lexington

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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2013 8:34:46 AM

The pumps in Kentucky are governed by the Division of Weights and Measures of Kentucky and they had better be right.
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MrDeath666
Champion Author Houston

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Message Posted: Jan 19, 2013 8:54:18 PM

Lots of cheating gas stations out there.
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2Tall
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Jan 19, 2013 8:40:05 AM

controlled by the Division of Weights and Measures
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EdPG
Champion Author Boston

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Message Posted: Dec 7, 2012 7:26:59 AM

All pumps are checked by the city & a seal apply to the pump.
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MertieMan
Champion Author Lexington

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Message Posted: Dec 7, 2012 5:09:31 AM

The pumps in this area are controlled by the Division of Weights and Measures of Kentucky. If you don't believe them, then take a gallon container and fill it up for one gallon.
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twt
Champion Author Virginia Beach

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Message Posted: Dec 7, 2012 3:57:38 AM

I always check the pump, for accuracy.
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glambgirl
Champion Author Victoria

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Message Posted: Dec 7, 2012 3:04:49 AM

Never gave it much thought. Too trusting, I guess.
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genoist
Veteran Author Orlando

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Message Posted: Dec 7, 2012 1:58:38 AM

Based on the government oversight, I trust the pumps.
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WEPSMAN
Champion Author South Dakota

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Message Posted: Dec 6, 2012 9:47:14 PM

Pumps are regulated by the state weight and measures and are sealed so the stations cannot change them.
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nycztony85
Veteran Author New York

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Message Posted: Dec 6, 2012 7:18:26 PM

who knows
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2Tall
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Dec 6, 2012 5:23:33 PM

The pumps are checked and calibrated annually and seal on pump for proof.
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sagnat
Champion Author Riverside

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Message Posted: Nov 3, 2012 12:57:56 PM

around here the pumps are checked and calibrated annually, then a seal is affixed and signed by the inspector. For the multi-grade pumps, they check each grades delivery for accuracy.
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NickoliMB
Champion Author Manitoba

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Message Posted: Nov 3, 2012 11:28:53 AM

Good points..I think this form makes people realize there are rip-offs and to take more precautions.
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twt
Champion Author Virginia Beach

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Message Posted: Nov 3, 2012 7:24:17 AM

I always check, when the pump reaches 10 gallons.
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MIT05
Champion Author Massachusetts

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Message Posted: Nov 3, 2012 6:43:33 AM

I have seen pumps off here too.
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ricebike
Champion Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Nov 3, 2012 6:07:16 AM

if in doubt, report them to your state's weights & measures division

they'll be glad to go down there with a "test vehicle" & fine them heavily if found to be cheating the public!
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deporresd
Sophomore Author Illinois

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Message Posted: Nov 3, 2012 2:00:25 AM

This article appeared on a Chicago NBC station this past July.

July 2012 on pump inspection.
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wrmedic
Champion Author Nebraska

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Message Posted: Nov 2, 2012 9:16:32 PM

In Nebraksa pumps are checked by dept of weight and measures. I believe on an annual basis. When they check them they put a seal on adjustment as well as the panel.
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PithyOpiner
Champion Author Stockton

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Message Posted: Nov 2, 2012 7:34:21 PM

Don't worry about it. Pumps are accurate. A gas station owner would not knowingly mess with the accuracy of his pumps. Even if it meant more money in his pocket.
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newf51
Rookie Author Newfoundland

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Message Posted: Oct 12, 2012 10:08:03 AM

In Canada the pumps are not checked regularly,the federal govt. gave that up a few years ago, so we are left to the scruples of the gas stations. Temperature can, especially colder temps, can also, make a difference in the actual amount of gas you get at the pump.
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PithyOpiner
Champion Author Stockton

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Message Posted: Oct 11, 2012 2:22:57 PM

I don't have a clue. I leave it to the my local government to protect me. That is what they are there for.
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ejs4818
Rookie Author St. Louis

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Message Posted: Sep 30, 2012 10:27:53 PM

Appreciate the replies, especially the in-depth ones. Seems that my concerns are probably wrong, that pumps are checked & verified reasonably often.

However, from the articles Texacoguy posted, it's also obvious that it CAN happen on a long term basis since those 3 stations were doing it from "the mid-1990s until they were sold in late 2006." They sure took a loong time to catch on, huh. Those owners were scamming pretty heavily, yet the average customer never knew it or the complaints would have been heavier, sooner.

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Texacoguy
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 1:53:56 PM

....the mobile octane testers are cool! Interesting fact, last time they did my station up there I was 87.4 and 93.7
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twt
Champion Author Virginia Beach

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 9:51:09 AM

I always check the price per gallon for accuracy, when I fill up.
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cheapguy135
Champion Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 9:46:35 AM

Texacoguy..."Cheapguy, what county is your station in..? Does your county also do octane testing at the same time..? "

Monmouth County, and I believe they do test octane also.

[Edited by: cheapguy135 at 9/29/2012 9:47:29 AM EST]
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Texacoguy
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 8:27:18 AM

MertieMan - So what if the state checks the pumps. If you read the article that I posted the link for, you can see exactly how much good that does...! NONE!

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MertieMan
Champion Author Lexington

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 8:22:16 AM

Pumps in Kentucky are checked by the Division of Weights and Measures at Frankfort, Kentucky which is a state government institution.
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Banjoe
Champion Author Winnipeg

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 8:09:57 AM

So maybe this is why I get different mileage results from different stations?
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05FLHRI
Champion Author Ohio

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 8:04:56 AM

Wow - heated debate - I sure hope we are not being taken advantage of but....
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Texacoguy
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 7:28:52 AM

Here's something to think about. This took place at a VERY high volume Truckstop in Southern Georgia, on I-95 just north of the Florida state line. This location was reportedly doing in excess of 5 MILLION gallons per month - which I believe, having stopped in there a few times, and due to it's location and tax/price advantage of about 15-20 cents over the stations in Florida. What is so scary, is that, in just 2 years it is estimated that they stole $7 MILLION from the customers. This number is extremely high, but then again we are talking about 120-130 MILLION gallons of fuel being sold from this location!
Check out this link
Click HERE

And click HERE also



[Edited by: Texacoguy at 9/29/2012 7:33:05 AM EST]
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Texacoguy
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 29, 2012 7:05:16 AM

Cheapguy, what county is your station in..? Does your county also do octane testing at the same time..? I know that a few years back, before I moved to Fl., Morris did have an octane tester, while Bergen and Sussex did not..
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toms1120
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Sep 28, 2012 7:36:50 PM

Look for weights and measures sticker.
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ayscfr
Veteran Author North Carolina

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Message Posted: Sep 28, 2012 11:48:11 AM

I do the math every fill up
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gougenator
Champion Author Dallas

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Message Posted: Sep 28, 2012 11:37:36 AM

one time ,went to a taco bell w/friend ,friend inquired about how many ounces of beef on the taco he ordered claimed it was skimpy and short on beef (YET IT WAS!!) so they filled it up to spec,

so it HAPPENS ,you get screwed everywhere you turn ,if your not watching your being taken advantage of ,they just turn their heads the other way

plain and simple
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MIT05
Champion Author Massachusetts

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Message Posted: Sep 28, 2012 9:31:55 AM

Always keep an eye on the pump.
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monkey102010
Veteran Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 10:01:09 PM

Never really had that concern before, I am pretty familiar with the stations in my area and i only use the stations that looks to be well maintained. I also check for the state inspection sticker on the pump.
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OceansidePoms
Champion Author Massachusetts

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 5:42:46 PM

It is POSSIBLE! Especially at OLDER Pumps or Pumps that are in very poor quality, possibly at a Station that has very dishonest management. However, I would feel almost 98% sure that 95% of Stations in the USA are NOT doing any such thing! There are so many variables in why one trip of 300 Miles used XX Gallons of Gas the first time, but then the second time, on the exact same 300 mile trip, with the exact same amount of Gas, from the exact same starting point & Gas Station used to fill up from Empty the first time, may have different results... I would be MORE than certain that over 50 OTHER factors would come BEFORE "Incorrect Calculation/Calibration at the Pump". At least in MA, we have a VERY STRICT Weights & Measures Inspection Requirement for ALL GAS/DIESEL Stations, they MUST do this AT LEAST ONCE PER YEAR or they can NOT operate or sell Gasoline or Diesel until they have been reinspected & passed by the Weights & Measures Department. I have felt that way before, but I just had to figure other factors were the cause, because the stickers from Weights & Measures Last Inspection are always on the Fuel Pumps here in MA, at every Station! If you see a Station that has a Pump with out a Valid & Up to Date Inspection Sticker from Weights & Measures, you NEED to contact Weights & Measures, the Better Business Bureau & the Proper Authorities ASAP!
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raiste62000
Veteran Author Gasbuddy

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 3:41:50 PM

And everyone else here is correct about the weights and measures as well. There are strict regulations in place to ensure that all station pumps are in calibration, and a majority of the time the out of calibration pumps are easy to identify, and taken out of service. I have 7 pumps at my station, and they are calibrated twice a year, and filters changed out twice a year to ensure a high quiality filtered product for my customers.
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raiste62000
Veteran Author Gasbuddy

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 3:37:26 PM

If you suspect that the station is cheating you, contact the state representative for the section that governs underground storage tanks. They are required to inspect and test stations every year. This will get an inspector there to make sure they are doing the right thing. Some stations have the pump pulse counts and timing set to 100 pulses a rotation, depending on the type of system used. One tenth of a gallon does add up over time. DOA Department of Agraculture, Weights and Measures Division or the equivalent in each state should be testing and calibrating the station pumps for them, unless they do it in house. Petroleum Services Group would be a good one to call for more information on bad pump issues.
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BUSSY
Champion Author Dallas

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 2:12:18 PM

trust but check the date of last inspection
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hornet17
Champion Author Vancouver

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 12:02:21 PM

If you look at the pumps, there is an inspection date on them.
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cheapguy135
Champion Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Sep 27, 2012 10:40:14 AM

Do you have the same suspicion about a pound of roast beef in the deli department? A ton of gravel at the building supply place? A gallon of heating oil? A propane refill? Did you get paid for a full ounce of used gold? Why does everyone tend to think they're automatically being ripped off at gas stations (that undergo the most public scrutiny and are the most closely watched by your local Weights and Measures), and not everywhere else that there is a scale or measuring device.

Here' the deal, I own a station in NJ pumping just under 2 million gallons/year. 3 years ago I invested $60,000 for digital dispensers to replace 17 year old pumps. Weights and Measures comes in unannounced,about twice a year, to check my eight fueling locations, with VERY accurate 5 gallon measuring devices. Each grade is checked at each fueling location for a total of 24 tests. The product is returned to the underground tanks and their report is issued.

Now, a gallon of gas is exactly 231 cubic inches in volume. The acceptable range in NJ is plus or minus 6 cubic inches per 5 gallon sample. I can be fined for being under or OVER the acceptable range. In 25 years of business, I have NEVER been fined or had my dispensers locked out for being under or over the acceptable range. In fact, I would say 90% of the time my dispensers are pumping IN FAVOR OF THE CONSUMER. ONE DISPENSER BEING ONE CUBIC INCH UNDER THE ACCEPTABLE RANGE ALMOST GUARANTEES HEADLINES THAT READ "GAS RETAILERS CHEATING PUBLIC". It is simply not worth the risk for that kind of press for minimal gain by intentionally cheating the public. I think the vast majority of retailers would agree. Just google "weights and measures" along with your county or state, and gasoline. You'll see article after article probably stating what I just told you.

In addition to the state/county testing, I also pay a private calibration company ($400 to $700 per visit) to come in at least twice per year to: A) make sure I'm in compliance, and B) to minimize the cubic inches of gas I'm giving away......so they will adjust the pumps to be as close to zero variance as possible, without being under.

Look at it this way, for argument's sake, suppose a gallon of regular costs $2.31. That would be 1 Cent per cubic inch, if all my dispensers were giving away 2 extra cubic inches per 5 gallon sample (it's usually more), that would be 2 cents per gallon times 2,000,000 divided by 5 gallons (test can) per year, or $8,000 per year. And gas right now is closer to 4 bucks a gallon so the loss could be $10,000 to $12,000 annually, so the cost of calibration is way less than the retailer's potential loss (customer’s gain). Obviously, as a retailer, you want to be as close to the minimum tolerance without EVER being under. I’d get strung up for being under ONE cubic inch ONE time, but I could have a dispenser(s) giving away an extra five cubic inches for months and nobody sends me roses.

Does fraud ever happen? Sure, there’s always some idiot who thinks they found a way to get rich at the public’s expense whether it’s cheating at the pumps or any other measuring device associated with retail, but they don’t last long and they go to jail. But just because your “gas guage usually says”, or “I always get at least blah, blah, blah” mpg", or “my gas tank holds…”or “my uncle knew a guy who got $20 worth of gas and his guage only moved blah, blah, blah” etc., etc., that doesn’t mean the retailer is ripping you off. That’s all gut feeling compared to very expensive technology and constant calibration. Stop already. Now when I get that type of complaint I point to the stickers on my dispensers from both the county Weights and Measures department and my calibration company and tell them it doesn't get any more accurate and if they're that uncomfortable to go elsewhere.

[Edited by: cheapguy135 at 9/27/2012 10:43:28 AM EST]
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OceanArcher
Champion Author Mississippi

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Message Posted: Sep 26, 2012 10:51:44 AM

Go to stations with up-to-date certification stickers on the pumps.
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antongaj13
Rookie Author New York

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 9:32:34 PM

one week 4 dollars the next week 4.20.
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antongaj13
Rookie Author New York

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 9:32:03 PM

i think they are robbing us enough without trying to hide the fact
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 6:38:07 PM

First, most pumps are accurate; relatively if not more accurate than most people expect. Side note: One of the most frequent complaints is people saying "I used to get more miles to a tank of gas so either they're selling me watered gas or they're not giving me as much gas as I should be getting."

This is generally followed with "I filled up and I drove 400 miles on before my "empty" guage light came on. Then I drove 380 miles and the light came on telling me that I need to get gas. That 20 miles difference is a gallon of gas. They're cheating me out of a gallon of gas every fill-up."

Note that the people never say anything after they've driven 425 miles before the light comes on, and never say anything about their driving conditions, roads, traffic, speed, stopping/starting, or that both they and their wife or their kid drove the car the second time.

But do answer your question, no, I don't really wonder if I'm getting what the pump says. In part because I record my fuel use and can make intelligent comparisons about a slight variation in my miles per gallon figures, especially over the course of time. And no, I don't record all my individual trips, each individual leg, start/stop odometer reading etc., (though at one time I did; but it's not realistic unless I can factor in speed, road/traffic conditions, etc.; however some GPSs can do that). I pretty much have faith in the accuracy of the dispenser/pump and accept that if it's minutely off, "If you were short 1/10 gallon for every 5 shown", as you suggested, it's just as possible it was a plus 1/10 gallon for every 5 shown, in my favor.Using Maryland as an example, inspectors from the the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures program, conduct year-round inspections of about 39,000 gasoline pumps and 1,328 diesel pumps at more than 2,000 filling stations throughout the state. I believe that in 2007 or 2008 (the last figures I could find), of the total gasoline fuel pumps in the state, 2,823, or about 7 percent, weren't producing exactly what consumers are paying for, according to the Weights and Measures chief. Variance, favoring the customer (i.e., the dispenser erring on the customer's side) were about equal to the dispenser erring on the station's side.

Again, in the case of Maryland, inspectors evaluate every pump, gas and diesel, at least every two years, generally working on an 18-month schedule. However, if the state receives a complaint about any station - let me repeat that, about ANY station - one of the inspectors is immediately dispatched. (And be realistic; that doesn't mean the phone call or e-mail comes in at 2 a.m. Saturday night and an inspector jumps out of bed; it's done the next morning. And the red to get ason I have to write that is because you know someone here will sooner or later post "I stopped at the Frosty Fill Up in Somewhere at 2 in the morning when I was driving from Seattle to Orlando and and I had to get gas because I was empty so I filled up my 18.7 gallon gas tank and the pump said I took 19.2 gallons, and everyone knows I never bought that much before no matter how far I drove..."

In Maryland, and I'm sure probably everywhere else, the number of customer grievances can depend on gas prices. In fiscal 2010, the department received about 500 complaints, about 92 percent regarding gas pumps, a number slightly above the two previous years' averages. However the high percentage is less than the 600 to 700 charges made several years before that when gas cost about $4 per gallon.

Regarding accuracy of the pumps, the biggest complaint the Weights and Measures office hears from consumers is that the pump price will begin at a few pennies higher than zero. Consumers should check that the machine's dollar value and gallon count begins at zero before fueling. What is happening is that the meter is filling up the hose before anyone pulls the trigger.

If you're wondering how testing is done, at least in some areas, inspectors us "Provers" -- twin containers that measure the cubic inches of 5 gallons of gasoline each. Typically, an inspector conducts two tests for each gas grade: a normal and a slow test. For the first test, the inspector leans the pump's nozzle into the top of the prover and holds the lever at full speed, filling the canister to as close to 5 gallons as possible. The slow test is run in the same manner, generally pumping fuel at half a gallon per minute, and reaching the same 5-gallon mark. The very first test of the day allows for a one-point plus-or-minus curve, because the prover is completely dry. A negative-one reading would be considered zero on the first go-around; all subsequent tests are measured without any wiggle room. Pumps below the negative-2.5 marking are either rejected or condemned, depending on the severity. In Maryland, if a meter reads a minus-7 cubic inches error, the meter would be rejected; and a meter that is off by more than three times the tolerance would merit condemnation. On occasion, some pumps may dispense more gasoline than a driver paid for. According to the Maryland chief of of the agency, the Weights and Measures program is more lenient when stations inadvertently give away gas to consumers, noting that pumps reading more than plus 6 will be noted, but are not monitored as strictly as those reading below negative 2.5.

In Maryland, station owners have two weeks to fix a rejected pump, which is left in use despite its rating. Those that an inspector condemns get marked and put out of commission until they are repaired.

What you're not saying, ejs4818, is that it's not just customers that call the appropriate agency to complain or ask to have dispensers checked. Frequently gas stations themselves, if they think there's any discrepancy with the dispensers, will call the state's Weights and Measures office for emergency inspections.

Again, according to the chief of the agency, in Maryland, at a 24-pump station, about 2 pumps, about 10 percent, will need minor adjustments (because the pump favors the gas station OR THE PUMP FAVORS THE CUSTOMER (before anyone asks, the upper case is for emphasis, because some gas pumps dispense more than what the customer is paying for). The adjustments are mostly as a result of normal wear and tear and daily mechanical operation.

It's like, why does your car need to be fixed? It's the same with fuel dispensers. They're subject to, and I'll repeat myself, to normal wear and teqar.

Think of it this way: On occasion, some pumps may underfill, or overfill, but there's no reason a retailer would want to cheat a consumer. It's not good for the customers, and there's nothing to be gained by making a penny a gallon, because you lose a customer. And no, that's not saying that it can never happen that a station won't "cheat". But even if a gas station cheated customers to make several cents per gallon or several cents per fill-up, it would cost the station more in the loss of regular customers, as well as subject the gas station to a complaint and/or investigation; and I think it's pretty safe to say that a gas station doesn't want to be fined let alone potentially lose it's license or permit over a matter of a possible few extra dollars for deliberate "cheating".

An aside; to test one gas station in Maryland can take up to five hours to inspect; the tests are that demanding. All approved pumps are marked with an orange sticker, with the month and year hole-punched to let consumers know when the last inspection took place. But, I've learned, a recent inspection does not necessarily mean the pump is in any better condition than ones checked more than a year earlier.

I don't know about other locales, such as Missouri or in St. Louis specifically (if they have a different system than the rest of Missouri), but in Maryland, the majority of the time, no fines are issued for violations, UNLESS INTENT WAS PROVED OR AN OUT-OF-ORDER PLACEMENT WAS NOT OBEYED (again, upper case for emphasis). A first offense costs the station $500, a second breach is $1,000 and a third strike is a $2,000 fine, although the Weights and Measures office can file criminal charges.

So, to answer your questions, based on experience and knowledge, and paying attention to my fuel log history, no, I don't really wonder if I'm getting what the pump says; and yes, I generally trust that it's accurate.

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sp364TN
Veteran Author Memphis

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 6:00:17 PM

we gotta trust 'em... ?
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valby
Champion Author Massachusetts

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 5:56:29 PM

Who can prove it?
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NickoliMB
Champion Author Manitoba

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Message Posted: Sep 25, 2012 5:20:29 PM

Happens more thasn on occassion I am pretty sure.That is a great question that is so hard to prove.
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