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Feel Cheated at the Pump?

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We’ve heard complaints before about gas stations ripping people off by reporting more fuel flowed through the pump than their car could actually hold. That’s one kind of scam we’re against. But there may be another reason your car is taking more gas than it should. The problem could be a “check valve” that’s worn out — and the gas station may not even know.

The device is supposed to start the meter as soon as your hand depresses the handle on the gas pump. Pumps are allowed to charge up to six cents more than what is actually delivered in a five gallon test, but with a bad check valve the overage could be as much as $5 per fill up. The best way to prevent this from happening is to let your local regulators (often at the county level) know if you experience a legitimate overage.

And don’t think the guy behind the counter is trying to scam you. A bad valve could freeze the pump, too, giving you more gas than it rings up. If that doesn’t make you feel better, the co-founder of says most retailers wouldn’t know how to jury rig a pump if they wanted to.

Gas pump problem cheats everyone (Boston Globe)

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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