CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Dear Car Talk gas pump column

Bill, thank you. Was not sure how accurate the methods I have done are. These are more observations.

Dear Ed, every state has an office that insures the proper dispensing of products like gas. In Minnesota it’s the Weights and Measures Division. They are the guys you see with the stainless steel containers every once in a while checking the gas. So those are the folks to talk to, and Ray doesn’t come here.

Bing, ok, I will check that. Thanks also for letting me know that Ray does not come here.

EdGalla,
Oregon is the other state with no self serve. Topping off is prohibited.

Had a friend from Minnesota traveling out there somewhere and stopped to get gas. As in Minnesota just started pumping gas. The attendant violently started waving his arms to stop stop, and threatened him with a hefty fine for pumping gas. Sheesh, the enemy hath landed, and it is us.

Yes, I am an outlier, but if permitting someone to pump his own gas puts gas attendants’ jobs at risk, why have I never been chastised by any of them over the past 50 years, and why do so many of them thank me?
Do people usually thank others who put their jobs at risk?

The reality of the situation is that NOTHING ever happens as a result of “violating” that statute, and there have been recent rumblings in the state capital about repealing it.

The attendants in Minnesota sit in their warm, dry, cubical reading the paper, while I get rained on and freeze pumping their gas. And with debit cards, they don’t even have to get up from their chair. What’s wrong with this picture? Haw haw. Speaking of Hee Haw, we lost another icon.

@sgtrock21 Oregon was the state we traveled through on our trip out west where self service was not permitted for pumping gasoline. I was trying to remember which state it was. I started to.pump the gasoline myself when the attendant came out and was very courteous about explaining that self service was prohibited in Oregon. He realized that I was from out of state and seemed very interested in my home state of Indiana. I enjoyed talking to the attendants at other gas stops along the way through Oregon.

Did you bother to ask about the… penalty… for violating that statute?
The response would likely have been either enlightening or maddening, depending on the level of ignorance of that attendant.
:thinking:

@VDCdriver. Being the old geezer that I am, I was pleased to have someone pump the gas for me.

I did pump gas for a job back in the old days. Texaco had the slogan: “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star”.
The slogan for me at the Sunoco station where I worked was: “You can bet your *ss I’m the boy who pumped your gas”.
I saw self service coming, so I went into teaching. It was difficult to adjust to the lower salary, however.

1 Like

Allow a native Oregonian to enlighten you.

In New Jersey, a violation of the self-pumping law will elicit a fine between $50 and $250 for first offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses for the station owner. There is no provision for fining a person pumping their own fuel.
In Oregon:
Enforcement of the self-serve law falls not to law enforcement, but to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office. The fire marshal can impose a $500 civil penalty on gas stations found in violation of the law.
“The OSFM receives, responds to, and investigates any violations of the statues and rules regulating the dispensing of class one flammable liquids,” Richard Hoover, public information officer for the Oregon State Fire Marshal, wrote in an email. “These are generally complaint driven.”
He said he did not know of any law enforcement agencies that cited for those violations, and he was unsure if they even had the authority to do so.
He said citations from the fire marshal’s office are “not common.”
“OSFM receives very few complaints of self-serve violations,” Hoover said.
While gas stations can be fined for allowing people to pump their own gas, there is nothing in the Oregon State Statutes or recent bills that specifies a fine or other penalty for someone caught pumping their own gas. Hoover confirmed that state statute only authorizes the OSFM to regulate stations and their owners, not customers.
Mike Heller, owner of Heller & Sons Distributing Inc. in Hermiston, said when people (mostly out-of-towners) try to pump their own gas at Heller & Sons they are always asked to return to their vehicle and let an attendant take care of it so that the station can comply with the law.
“We have people try and do that, but they can’t, so we have to stop them,” he said.

Triedaq forgot to log off this site, so I’ll add something. I don’t see why anyone would want to pump their own gas. If Triedaq wants me to cook the meals, then Triedaq had better fill the gas tank on my 4Runner.
Mrs. Triedaq

2 Likes

If you would have stuck with it instead, you could be sitting in that chair reading the paper, and making $15 an hour, watching other people get rained on.

Um, yeah, I regularly get the duty of putting gas in the car the wife drives. I don’t mind. It beats having to go retrieve her when she runs out of gas.

If you can’t do an accurate comparative measurement by volume, measure by weight instead. You probably can’t measure weight accurately to within 5%, but you should be able to measure a 5% weight difference between two samples.

I have a Corolla-driving friend who measures their gas mileage on every fill-up, has done this consistently for years. They maintain there’s one particular gas station they use that results in consistently lower mpg’s the next measurement. So you may be on to something.

You may find the volume and weight is pretty much identical station to station. If so, there may be something about the composition of the gasoline that results in lower mpg.

As a statistician, the allowable type 1 or alpha error is usually set at .05. In other words, I would allow a 5% measurement error on a true gallon.

My usual procedure in pumping gas is to put the nozzle in the tank filler tube and while the tank is filling, I wash the windshield and check the oil. I remove the nozzle as soon as it clicks off. I don’t try to squeeze any more gas in the tank.
I have compared the mpg indicated on the dashboard display and the difference is less than 5%. The value of the dashboard display is to keep track of the health of the engine. If it dips low, I think of the driving conditions from the last fill up and the weather conditions from the last fill up. If the driving conditions and weather was about the same over the several fill ups and the mileage drops significantly, I then look for s reason.

You’re scary? :wink:

I kid. Probably because not everyone evaluates risk the same. The attendants you deal with are more rational and don’t mind. The attendants the other guy dealt with are too easily frightened and lash out whenever they perceive a threat to their livelihood.

It’s like asking why is one guy terrified of airplanes and the other guy is convinced nothing will ever happen to him while flying. Neither person’s viewpoint is fully supported by evidence, but they both feel strongly about it and behave differently as a result.

I think different gas pumps click off at different amounts of fullness. They’re pretty precise at measuring the amount of fuel, but not so precise at all stopping at the same threshold.

1 Like

So you’re happy getting 95 gallons of fuel when you paid for 100 gallons ?
That’s throwing away $15.00 a month, $180.00 a year.

Or go the other way for the small station owner that only sells 1000 gallons a day, and gets paid for 950.

Except that when you average it out, sometimes you’ll be paying for more gas than you get, and sometimes you’ll be paying for less. It’ll roughly work out even in the end.

Put another way, no, for 15 bucks a month I am not going to get worked up over getting half a gallon less than I pay for every once in awhile. It’s just not something I can find the energy to get angry about.

Before Costco opened a gas station within a few miles of my house, I used to patronize any convenient station that had decent prices. One station that I used on a few occasions was QuickChek. My driving pattern differs so little that my gas mileage is always within a very narrow range, but I found that–consistently–my gas mileage would drop to a fairly significant extent when I used QuickChek gas. As a result, I stopped going there.

1 Like