State officials inspect problematic gas pumps - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

State officials inspect problematic gas pumps

Some pumps were found to be in error, but for whom do those errors favor? (Source: WAFF) Some pumps were found to be in error, but for whom do those errors favor? (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The results are in after we demanded pump inspections on gas stations in the Tennessee Valley.

Thousands of pumps across the Tennessee Valley sitting without being inspected for years. We wanted to know why, what was being done about it, and if it's causing you to get cheated at the pump. We requested the state to inspect pumps we've heard our own viewers complain about.

After spotting outdated inspection stickers on gas pumps, we started asking questions, especially because they're supposed to be inspected once a year by the state. But officials admit they haven't been - some haven't been inspected in four years.

There are only six inspectors to cover the entire state. Officials say the blame for that is on budget cuts. The state has been relying on consumers to complain about problems they see, but if no one complains, the pump is likely sitting there undetected.

Between your complaints on problem pumps and others selected at random, we put together a list of 20 stations from Decatur, to Florence, and Scottsboro - but most in Huntsville.

Here's some of the results.

Nine pumps were condemned, meaning red-tagged and taken out of service, at the J- Mart Texaco on Old Madison Pike in Madison. Inspectors found the pumps were not starting on zero. The worst was a premium pump that was still tagged when we showed up that jumped off zero to 44 cents when drivers barely touched the nozzle.

Tyler Satterfield, a customer who only buys gas here, was shocked.

"Next time I get gas, I'm going to watch the pump," Satterfield said. "I never noticed it, to be honest. I will be more watchful and pay attention."

Inspectors also found excessive water in the diesel, which can damage an engine. But it wasn't all bad: One pump was actually giving gas away; it surpassed the inspectors' gauge.

The Chevron in Scottsboro on John T Reid Parkway passed inspection, but frayed and cracked hoses were noted. Half of their pumps fell slightly under the correct gallon mark, which the state sees as favoring the station owner. The pumps passed because inspectors allow for a margin of error - six cubic inches under or over the perfect mark.

Problems were also found at the BP in Decatur on 4th Avenue... but this goes in favor of the consumer. Pump number 3 was giving more gas than paid for on Super. Because their pumps are outdated, once the total hits $99.99, which is easy to do with today's gas prices.... it flips back to zero, meaning folks could be driving away with $100 worth of gas and only pay a few cents for it.

Only one gas station got supreme marks: Costco in Huntsville. Not one issue was found.

Come October, a new law will go into effect to help the state stay on top of inspections. Gas station owners will be required to hire state approved service agents to inspect their pumps once a year. This way the state can still monitor problems without having to dispatch their own inspector. Citations now come with monetary fines.

Click here to read the state inspection reports in full.

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