Fuel Dispenser Inspection FAQs
Does the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) conduct tests for quality on motor fuel?
Yes, the Department conducts routine inspections and pulls random samples for lab analysis from establishments that convey motor fuel for sale in the state.
Does the SCDA monitor fuel prices in the state?
No. The SCDA does not interfere with the price of fuel. The SCDA only ensures that a price is displayed on the dispenser.
Can the Department of Agriculture help me if I think I have received “bad” or contaminated fuel?
Yes, the Consumer Services Division investigates complaints on motor fuel quality or quantity. However, the consumer can assist in this process by contacting the Department as soon as possible after the purchase so that we may visually inspect and pull a sample for lab analysis while the product is still available. It is very helpful if the consumer can identify the type and grade of product purchased along with the pump number from which the fuel was dispensed. The customer receipt of the purchase can be very helpful and normally contains this information.
If I take my 5 gallon can to the station to pump 5 gallons and it does not hold 5 gallons, am I being cheated?
Fuel container cans are not always accurate measures. Although your container may state the capacity to be five gallons, most gasoline cans are designed with additional "airspace" for expansion and to avoid overflow spillage. In most cases, fuel dispensers are much more accurate than ordinary containers used to purchase fuel for small engine applications.
If my vehicle is supposed to hold 19 gallons of fuel, but I pump 20 gallons in the tank, is the station dispenser inaccurate?
The manufacturer specifies the approximate size of the fuel tank in the specifications. However, through the manufacturing process fuel tank sizes vary. Fuel tanks on vehicles are also designed with an area for expansion. When we investigate these types of complaints, in the vast majority of the cases, we do not find anything wrong with the dispenser.
How many inspectors does the SCDA employ? How many fuel dispensers do they inspect?
The SCDA has 20 inspectors who inspect almost 72,000 dispensers in the state. These same inspectors also inspect the scales at supermarkets and other retail outlets and check the net contents of packaged commodities.
Does the SCDA regulate the differences in the price on street sign and the price on the dispenser?
The SCDA strives to ensure that the prices posted on street signs are correct. However, with fuel prices changing as often as they do, you may encounter instances when the street sign has not been changed yet. We cannot require the station to honor the price on the sign. A retail dispenser must display the price per gallon and calculate the total sales price to the nearest cent. In South Carolina, street signs posting the price for fuels are not required.
What is the accepted tolerance level for fuel?
The maintenance tolerance for a fuel dispenser is plus or minus 6 cubic inches on a five-gallon delivery, which translates to plus or minus about 3.3 fluid ounces. (1 ounce [US, liquid] = 1.805 cubic inches).
Can the Department of Agriculture help me recover any associated expenses incurred as a result of purchasing contaminated fuel?
No. You will receive a copy of the lab analysis on the sample that you may use to support your claims.
Why are gas prices different from the coast to the midlands to the upstate?
The Department does not control gasoline prices. Some difference in the prices may be caused by transportation costs. However, most gasoline prices are set by the competition in the area.
Where can I find information on the Department of Agriculture Petroleum Inspections and Analysis program?
How do I file a consumer complaint?
Click here to email your complaint or call 803-737-9690. This number is printed on all the approval stickers you will find on retail fuel dispensing devices. Or visit the SCDA Web site at www.agriculture.sc.gov and click on the Consumer/Complaint Suggestion Box in Consumer Quick Links on the right side of the home page.