How Inspectors Keep Gas Pumps Fair

Inspectors shut down more than 2,000 gas pumps in Cook County last year

With gas prices in the Chicago area hovering just south of $4 per gallon, consumers no doubt want to make sure they're getting what they pay for.

Each and every day, inspectors at the state and municipal level are doing what they can to ensure that gas pumps are functioning correctly and accurately. But mistakes happen, and drivers should keep an eye out for potential problems to make sure they're not getting gouged.

Jeff Tubacki from the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Weights and Measures recommends the following checks:

  • Check all the hoses at the pump. If they're leaking or if there's moisture, there could be a problem with "creep," where the meter keeps running after you stop pumping.
  • Check the pump's inspection sticker. If it was last checked more than a year ago, notify the station attendant.
  • Check all of the posted gas prices. Make sure they match.

The problems aren't rare. In Cook County and the City of Chicago, inspectors in 2011 shut down more than 2,000 gas pumps. State inspectors found 464 faulty pumps in DuPage County. Lake County pumps tagged and rejected last year totaled about 298, and in Will County, that number was 221. McHenry County had just 82 state-inspected pumps that didn't mean state requirements.

In each case, when a pump is rejected it cannot be used until the problem has been corrected and verified again by an inspector.

It's not only the pumps that get checked. Inspectors also test the grade of the fuel to make sure it's labeled and sold correctly.

There are seven inspectors who work full time for the city of Chicago and more than a dozen who work for the state. Every pump statewide should be checked once per year, officials said.

Illinois Dept. of Agriculture: Motor Fuel Dispenser Inspection Report

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