Fuel for thought
At Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards Service, we are often asked questions about petrol pumps. Nicola Harding, a Senior Fair Trading Officer sets out to answer the most common ones:-
Q. When I filled up my car with petrol I paid for 20 litres of fuel but I’m sure that I did not have 20 litres in my fuel tank?
A. All of the petrol pumps in Leicestershire are tested frequently by Trading Standards Officers. By law the pumps are required to meet stringent requirements for accuracy to ensure that any errors in the amount of fuel dispensed are within certain tolerances. This means that a petrol pump can deliver up to 10ml extra per litre of fuel and is only allowed to deliver 5ml less per litre of fuel - and bear in mind that a teaspoon is approximately 5ml.
Any pump found to be outside of the tolerances is put out of use until the problem is corrected. All of the adjustable parts of a pump are also sealed to prevent them being tampered with to protect customers and honest traders. However, if you think that a pump is delivering an inaccurate amount of fuel please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
Q. I accidentally put diesel in my vehicle instead of petrol because the pumps weren’t colour coded?
A. There is no legal requirement for petrol pumps to be colour coded, this is just industry practice. There is however a legal requirement for pumps to be labelled with the type of fuel they are dispensing. As an extra check, before commencing delivery make sure that the price displayed corresponds to the fuel you want to purchase. If you know of a petrol station which does not have the fuel type labelled on the pumps, please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
Q. I put £5 worth of fuel in my vehicle and it isn’t showing on the gauge, is the petrol pump giving short measure?
A. The varying prices in fuel mean that you will receive more fuel for your money on some occasions than others. All vehicles are different and some gauges may register a small amount like £5, whereas others may not. If your vehicle was very close to empty when you put the fuel in, it may be more likely to appear not to register the extra fuel. The position of your vehicle can also affect the fuel gauge due to the position of the tank. If your vehicle is on a slope the tank may appear fuller or emptier than it actually is.
Q. When I put the petrol nozzle back the meter clocked up one penny when I was not delivering any fuel, is there a fault on the pump?
A. Sometimes the price advances when you close the nozzle and return it to storage. This can be caused by the hose swelling slightly which allows a fractional amount of fuel to pass through the meter. Because of the high price in petrol only a very small amount of fuel is needed for the price display to change by 1 penny therefore this problem is much more prevalent now than it used to be. One penny’s worth of fuel only equates to a very small amount and is well within the permitted tolerances of -0.5% and +1%. However if the price increases by more than 1 penny please let Consumer Direct know on 08454 04 05 06.
Q. When I filled my tank with diesel the pump did not cut off when my tank was full and fuel spilt everywhere?
A. Much of the diesel now sold includes some bio diesel which is made from waste vegetable oil and is much more environmentally friendly than ordinary diesel. However, it can cause the filters in the pumps to clog up, which in turn restricts the flow of fuel through the pump. If the flow of diesel is too slow, the cut-off mechanism on the nozzle will not work. If this happens to you report it to the garage as it is likely that the pump will require maintenance. You can however be reassured that you will not be receiving short measure as the pump will only register the petrol which passes through the meter regardless of the speed of delivery.
Page Last Updated: 15 June 2010