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On Monday, November 9, I filled up my empty gas tank at a station in Mira Mesa. (The tank was so empty, the car had stalled once just before I reached to the station.) After I’d filled up, the gauge on the pump indicated that I’d dispensed 12.266 gallons. My car’s manual shows the tank holds only 11.9 gallons.

I reported the discrepancy to the cashier, who at first ignored me. After repeating myself two more times, he just shrugged his shoulders. At that moment I felt that the station was ripping me off and wondered how many others were paying for gas they weren’t getting.

When I arrived at home, I immediately logged on to the California Weights and Measures website in order to lodge a complaint. The procedure is to download a form and mail it, which I did.

On Thursday, November 12, I received a phone call from a representative of the agency. He confirmed details and said an inspector would get in touch with me. To my surprise, an inspector called me the next day to say that an investigation had been completed.

Standard procedure is for the inspector to take a five-gallon container to the station, fill it, and compare the gauge to the amount pumped into their calibrated container. The pump passed that test.

Next, the investigator inspected the tag that was placed on the pump at its last inspection, which happened to be in 2007. The seals on the tag had not been tampered with. How could this be? The inspector explained that vehicle manufacturers estimate the fuel capacity of gas tanks, and the difference between actual and stated volume can be up to 20 percent.

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PistolPete Nov. 16, 2009 @ 12:59 a.m.

You're a dork, Robert. Did you also take into account the amount of fuel it took to reach your engine? OH YEAH!scratches the hair on his chinny chin chin

I've worked at three gas stations since I was 16. There's ALWAYS been a few people bitch to me about getting ripped off. Fuel lines are NOT part of a fuel tank.


fredism Nov. 16, 2009 @ 9:50 a.m.

There is also a good amount of gas that is in the neck, the tube from the opening to the tank. This neck can hold 1/2 to 1 gallon of gasoline. Many of the modern pumps click off when gas reaches the neck or gets close to the top of the tank. But other pumps will fill you car including the neck before clicking off. The vacuum system on the newly installed recovery handles sometimes do this. So, you would need to fill you car every time at the same pump and handle to get an accurate idea of how much gas you car holds. Every car I've ever owned has been able to hold more gas by filling the neck. The downside is that it can cause the gas to spill if you're not really careful. And, that's not good for the environment.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 16, 2009 @ 10:49 a.m.

When I was in college I warked at Trader Joe's in PB, and I swear, we had this one looney tune dude who would come in and complain that the 12 oz natural juices we sold were always under measured, and he would call weights and measures and then they would come out, usually right away with what happened in this story, and tkae a few and sample them out. We/Trader Joe's always came out correct, yet this loney tune bird kept making complaints. I thought after this happened once or twice maybe they should start charging the guy costs for everytime one of his wild speculations came up short-which as I stated was every complaint.


abbeyrd Nov. 16, 2009 @ 7:59 p.m.

"I've worked at three gas stations since I was 16" posted by Pistol Pete.

Your lifelong ambition is to work at a gas station and I'm the dork? Just joking with you Pete because I disagree with your critique of the author.

Apparently you missed the fact that I am admitting to every San Diego Reader that I was incorrect in my accusation. In doing so, I hope that I may have conveyed a few ideas.

  1. Inform others of my results regarding the investigation.

  2. Encourage others to act if they feel wronged. It is easy to do nothing because you think that you won't be heard.

  3. Restore a little faith in our government. Within 2 days of receiving my complaint, the investigation was completed. I am really satisfied with the swift taken by the California Weights And Measures. As I was hanging up the phone, the investigator said that I should not hesitate to contact them if the need arises.

I have never filled up at a gas station and pumped more than what my tank was "rated" at. Therefore, I feel that my complaint was valid. The cashier's rude actions seemed to solidfy that claim for me.

Surf Puppy, I feel that your analogy is not nearly the same situation. However, it is entirely possible that I am a loon:)


PistolPete Nov. 16, 2009 @ 8:24 p.m.

Robert/abbeyrd-I sincerely apologize if you thought I was being mean spirited. My intent wasn't to offend. I meant to say that to you like I was talking to a buddy. Just a little teasin' is what I meant. Your complaint WAS in fact valid and I should've adressed that as well. I can see the rudeness of the attendant as being valid only because I know the business a little bit. Two of three gas stations I worked at were fairly slowly compared to the Shell station here in CMR that I worked at. The first few times this happened I was quite curteous to the customers and explained to them that the fuel lines took about a gallon and half to fill. They claimed to be on empty so I mentioned that fact to them. I also told them that if they felt cheated, not only would I let my station manager know, I offered to give them the number to the WI and ILL Dept. of W & M.

The last time this happened, I was working here in CMR. The Shell stations here are both very busy. I had a customer tell me she wanted me to look at he pump. I was extremely busy AND off the clock. So I humored her. She claimed that her car only took 11 gallons yet the pump read that she had pumped 15 gallons. She argued and argued with me before I told her that if she wanted, I'd let my manager know. Afterall, what did she want me to do? Refund her the price of 4 gallons at $4.35 a gallon? No goddamn way! I told her in as polite a way as I could muster to get f***ed.

Later on, I called my GF and told her to look up the car on the internet and tell me what the estimated gas it would take to fill. Here's what she found:


If you scroll down to where it says Technical Specifications, you'll read where it says the fuel capacity is 16.0 gallons.


abbeyrd Nov. 17, 2009 @ 5:09 a.m.

Thank you Pistol Pete.

Indeed delivering great customer service can be trying. I certainly have been guilty of providing a less than stellar performance at times.


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