State Comptroller Calls For Surprise Gas Station Inspections

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Drivers are paying an average of $3.87 for a gallon of regular gas. That’s one cent less than what they paid one month ago. However, it’s still way above what we were paying this time last year: $2.79 a gallon.

Drivers may not be getting what they pay for when they pull up to the pump.

Gigi Barnett reports that’s prompting surprise inspections across the state.

Eighty seven, 89, 93–they’re the second numbers drivers check at the pump. The first number is the price–still sky-high.

“I drive to Baltimore for work,” said Beth Brewer. “It’s crazy.”

But now state fuel inspectors say some stations are passing off  lower octane for a higher price.

“They’re getting product they thought they were getting but they’re not,” Jack Dickerson, fuel inspector. “It’s misleading.”

And that’s why state comptroller Peter Franchot is springing surprise inspections on stations like the one at an Exxon on Falls Road and Coldspring. The station passes, but others have failed.

“We shut the station down, so it’s not as if there’s an ongoing problem once we determine that there’s a problem,” Franchot said.

Without the right octane, drivers could pay more in repairs.

“This truck here, it really won’t run if the octane is not right,” said James Brown.

Drivers say the possibility of a switch-a-roo makes the price hurt even more.

“Tell me about it,” Brown said. “I went and had to use my credit card ’cause I ain’t have no green money to put in.”

While fuel inspectors have checked about 2,100 stations around the state, about 1 percent failed the check.

The  inspections come just as the summer drive season begins. Franchot says he plans to ask state lawmakers to approve a tax-free weekend during the Fourth of July or Labor Day holidays.

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