5 On Your Side

Keep an eye on gas receipts to find inaccurate pumps

Posted November 20, 2014

When filling up at the pump, most of us just set it and forget it. And for the most part, people trust the numbers on the pump.

A woman who contacted 5 on Your Side was on empty when she filled up, which may have helped her catch a problem with her gas pump.

"According to my owner's manual, I have 13.2 gallons capacity in my car, but the pump went over 16 gallons," Kathy Potter said.

Potter needed gas when she stopped at the WilcoHess on Western Boulevard in October.

“When I saw that hit 13 gallons, I got concerned, and then when it kept going I was really, you know, puzzled,” Potter said. "I thought wow, I was really on empty."

Her receipt shows the pump finally cut off at more than 16 gallons.

"Over three gallons is a pretty pricey error margin,” Potter said. “That cost me over $10 and if we're doing that every time we fill up, that's a lot of money out of my pocket."

Potter said the clerk wasn’t worried about the difference.

“She didn't seem very concerned, she just kind of laughed and shrugged it off,” said Potter.

So the Potters called state inspectors, who tested the pump and shut it down.

"It's nothing the store did on purpose, it's just equipment and it does go bad,” said Jerry Butler with the state Department of Agriculture.

Butler said the inspector pumped 20 gallons but was charged for 26.6 gallons. He ended up closing both sides of the pump.

There are thousands of gas pumps across the state, but only 23 inspectors.

Officials say it’s good for drivers to know how much gas their car can hold.

"A good thing to do is let your light come on,” Butler said. As soon as your light comes on, stop and fill it up then you’ve got a pretty accurate indication of what it should take to fill your car up.”

As for Potter, WilcoHess repaired the broken pump and refunded the entire cost of her $57 dollars.

"We need to be aware of what the pump is saying, be aware of what your tank holds and where your level is when you get gas, just to look out for your dollars," she said.

Another issue is meter jumps, which occur when drivers haven't pumped anything, yet are charged. Butler says it happens a lot when air needs to work its way out of the pump.

Butler added that drivers should look at the gas pump before they use it, and if they have any questions, to contact the state Department of Agriculture’s Standards Division. Their number is located on every pump.

Inspectors attempt to look at the pump in question within 24 hours.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Zebulon in the house Nov 25, 2014

    This happened to my daughter at Sheetz in Zebulon. They refunded her and shut the pump down, but it was definitely a wakeup call to pay attention to the numbers.

  • Martha Matthews Nov 24, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    You can get good gas from Sheetz. Unfortunately you get it by eating their food.

  • tbird808 Nov 24, 2014

    I had a slightly different problem...I always pump until it shuts off when full, but when I turned around to look at the pump, the numbers were still going up on the price display after it had clicked off. Probably less than 50 cents, but still... I contacted the company and they sent me a $10 gift card and explained that the pump had indeed malfunctioned and had be shut-down until repaired. I know I'll keep a closer eye on this in the future! Thanks for the info.

  • Harvo Nov 21, 2014

    Doesn't happen in the other direction....

  • 68_dodge_polara Nov 21, 2014

    Also using fuel with ethanol can reduce mileage by 6- to nearly 10 percent. Pure stations and PB mid grade fuel does not contain ethanol.

  • cybertazet Nov 21, 2014

    Sheets, Hess and Murphy are the worst for this..... I have seen this happen a lot. Using any of their gas especially Sheets, I do not get good gas mileage. I refuse to go to another Sheets.