Trading Standards will increase the number of routine petrol forecourt checks across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, and Torbay this summer.
Usually around a dozen forecourts a year are tested – this summer up to an extra 20 will be tested, with a possibility of more if needed.
Fuel pumps are regularly tested by Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service to ensure that the pumps are legal.
The checks test if the amount of fuel a pump is showing the motorist is being dispensed is actually going into the vehicle.
To prevent fraud, fuel pumps are ‘sealed’ to prevent adjustment or tampering and to tamper with them is against the law.
The increase in checks comes at a time when the cost of fuel has peaked at over £2 a litre for the very first time.
In the last financial year equipment at 12 forecourts were routinely tested, with no issues found and no complaints were received during that period.
However, since fuel costs have shot up, there has inevitably been concern about the pricing and accuracy of pumps - and the increased checks are to reassure customers, and not as a response to specific evidence of fraud.
The checks will only verify that the numerical indicator shown on the pump is accurate – it will not show if any reductions in fuel duty announced by the government are being reflected in the pump price.
Mark Peacock from Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service said: “Testing petrol pumps for accuracy is a particularly important part of our work as, unlike most purchases of goods by weight or volume, the actual amount of fuel that goes into the tank is never actually seen by the consumer.
“They only have the pump meter and their fuel gauge to rely on, therefore, any detriment to the consumer is difficult to spot.
“These tests are routine and although there have been complaints, we believe that the vast majority our local forecourts are run honestly, and we will publish the results of our testing over the coming months to prove that.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member Economic Recovery and Skills, said: “Inflation and the cost-of-living crisis is greatly affecting our region, and high fuel prices are affecting people going to work, parents taking their children to school, businesses, voluntary services, care workers trying to visit clients, farmers in our rural communities, and tourists visiting the region. In response, trading standards has decided to increase routine testing of petrol pumps to ensure the customer at the pump can be confident they are getting what they pay for.”