The Investigators

May 25, 2012 1:00 AM

Getting what you pay for at the gas pump

TUCSON - A gallon of gas on average will set you back over $3.50.

Many of you will burn extra fuel this holiday weekend so the News 4 Tucson Investigators wanted to know if you are getting what you pay for at the pump.

"We don't tell them we're coming. We just show up so there's no advance notice," says Shawn Marquez, Director of Compliance Programs with Arizona Department of Weights and Measures.

Between October 2011 and April this year, inspectors from Marquez's department checked out 135 gas stations in Tucson, testing over 26-hundred nozzles.

"That means 87, 89, 91, diesel. Every single product you see at a gas station, we inspect," Marquez explains.

The most critical test for customers is volume calibration.

"We wanted our stations' tolerance to be as close to zero as possible."

The state's tolerance is 6 cubic inches from a five gallon sample or about 3.25 ounces.

"Probably is acceptable you know since it's so small that with a few ounces out of like 5 gallons probably isn't going to matter," says Mikeal Cruce as he finished filling his tank.

The state reports indicate 25 pumps had code fails which work against the customer. Again that's out of over 2,600 tests. 144 were found out of tolerance benefiting the consumer.

"Over a 144 were found out of tolerance, hurting the stations, benefiting the consumer."

And the state tells us those pumps out of tolerance were just barely out of tolerance. Regardless these pumps are locked out of service until repaired.

So despite over $3.50 gallon, at least that's high octane news for holiday travelers

"Consumers in Tucson and quite frankly consumers what we've seen all over the state, these gas station owners are doing a good job," says Marquez.

Stations like QuikTrip, who we visited during one of their inspections for this story, conduct their own tests as well. QuikTrip provided this statement via email.

" In addition to the state inspections, QuikTrip, on a volunteer basis, hires a third party contractor, who is certified and uses certified equipment, to test all of our gasoline pumps a minimum of once a year, to ensure that QuikTrip is in compliance of all Federal, State and Local laws."

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