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National Measurement Institute

Is the Petrol Pump You Use Displaying the Truth?

Motorists are becoming increasingly aware of the petrol pump: Is it delivering the correct amount of fuel? Is the volume of petrol/price displayed accurately? Am I getting what I have paid for?

Article date:
19/05/2014 12:00 AM

With this in mind, NMI has put together advice that aims to clarify these issues.

Q1. How is a petrol pump approved for trade use?

NMI approves all petrol pumps used for trade in Australia; approval includes assessing and testing the design and structure of the petrol pump against international requirements.

Q2. Who is monitoring the accuracy of petrol pumps?

NMI’s Trade Measurement Inspectors conduct routine, targeted and random audits on service stations around Australia to test the accuracy of trade approved petrol pumps. They also inspect and test petrol pumps to investigate consumer complaints submitted to NMI.

Q3. What is the smallest volume of petrol that can be accurately delivered from a petrol pump?

The smallest volume accurately delivered from a petrol pump is typically 2 Litres (L).  Since the early 2000s, all new petrol pumps are required to display the minimum delivery amount where it is clearly visible to the customer.

Q4. What causes the petrol pump to potentially display incorrect information?

The digital display segment of a petrol pump is made up of seven individual bars and a fault in any one of these bars can cause the display segment to show an incorrect number. This is a fault that needs to be corrected and could attract a fine from an NMI Trade Measurement Inspector.

Q5. If the petrol pump is displaying incorrect information, how do I know that I am being charged the correct price?

In almost all installations, petrol pumps are connected to a console inside the service station shop; this allows the service station staff member (console operator) to authorise the use of a petrol pump by the customer and display the volume of petrol/price from the petrol pump, at the time of payment. Even if the petrol pump display is faulty, the petrol pump’s price computing software will calculate the correct information and communicate it to the console, which is then used to charge the customer the right amount.

Q6. Does a petrol pump have a measurement limit of error that is legally allowed?

Yes — a petrol pump is legally allowed to deliver between a maximum of 0.3% more than the volume shown on the indicator and a minimum of 0.3% less than the volume displayed on the indicator.

Q7. There is a legally allowed price computing error limit for the smallest volume of petrol delivered. How do I know this price computing error will not increase for larger deliveries of petrol?

The design of a petrol pump does not allow this price computing limit of error to increase for larger deliveries of petrol. For example, a price computing error of 1 cent for a 2 L delivery will not increase to an error of 15 cents for a 30 L purchase, which could be considered a normal transaction for most consumers.

Q8. What else should I be aware of when using a petrol pump?

After you have picked up the nozzle of a petrol pump, and before you start filling your petrol tank, make sure the display of the petrol pump is indicating all zeroes on the volume and total price indicators.

Q9. How can I report an inaccurate petrol pump to NMI?

You can lodge a complaint via the following options:

Click here to download a WORD version or PDF version of this advice.

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