Fox59 Investigates: Do you really know what’s going in your tank?

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Gas price spikes are coming as the Summer driving season revs up. Prices at the pump could jump to nearly $4 a gallon or higher.  But, do you really know what’s going in your tank?

It’s Larry Stump’s job to keep them honest.

“They know we’re coming,” he said.  “They don’t know when.”

Stump is the State Director of Weights and Measures.

He makes sure you don’t get bad gas. He recently tested a sample for octane accuracy from a popular Indiana gas station. He wants to know if the 93 octane is really 93 octane.

“It is above standard,” he said. “It came back at 93.4 octane.”

But that’s not always the case Indiana.

“We will find where the 93 might test out at 89 or 91 octane,” he said.  “What we’ll do then is issue an emergency stop sell order on the location.”

And that means you could be getting ripped off by about 20 cents a gallon.

In 2011-2012, The Department of Weights and Measures found 20 stations with faulty octane levels.

Nearly 6,000 (5,957) pumps did not measure a correct gallon. Some stations were ripping off customers and other stations were losing money for giving customers too much gas.

Stump also tests for water in the gasoline in the state lab.

“If we find water we’ll issue an emergency stop sell order on it,” he said.

Water in your gas tank can wreak havoc, from acceleration problems to fuel system damage, putting your family and finances at risk.  Water in gasoline happens more than you might think.

“We just received one a couple hours ago where a guy put it in his lawn equipment and his lawn equipment wouldn’t run,” Stump said.  “(There was a) large amount of water in the fuel.”

Kris Winningham inspects the pumps in Marion County.
First, she grounds the pumps to make sure a spark doesn’t set off and explosion.

“You’ve got to make sure things aren’t leaking really bad,” she said.

On her first pump, she finds a leak.

“See it, see it,” she said as she pointed to the leak.  “It’s so obvious that it’s leaking.  There’s a pool of diesel here and you can see it’s stained even though it’s painted black.”

The scary part is that the line is tied to 10 to 20,000 gallons of fuel, which could lead to a big explosion that could be set off by static electricity.

So she condemns the pump.

“Until it is repaired and no longer leaking,” she said.

Next, she tests the pumps to make sure you’re getting a true gallon.

If a pump checks out, it gets a sticker.  That’s what drivers need to look for at the pumps.  The sticker tells you the pump passed inspection and you’re getting what you pay for.

“Weights and Measures exists to make sure there’s equity in the market place so that the business owner is not being hurt by losing money,” Winningham said.  “They’re not ripping anyone off and the consumer is also not getting ripped off.”