Fuel temperature disclaimers appear on Missouri pumps

| 8/28/2007

First, it happened in California and now it’s happening in Missouri – certain fuel companies are posting disclaimers on retail pumps that state temperature affects the energy content of motor fuel.

Land Line learned that stickers had recently appeared on gasoline and diesel pumps at the TravelCenters of America plaza in Oak Grove, MO, at Exit 25 on Interstate 70. That’s one exit east of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association headquarters in Grain Valley, MO.

The stickers at the TA are identical to ones issued in July by ExxonMobil Corp. for it’s company owned stations that declare: “This device dispenses motor fuel by volume measured in gallons. It does not adjust the volume for variations in the temperature of the fuel. The temperature of motor fuel affects the energy content of each gallon dispensed.”

The first disclaimers about fuel temperature showed up in early July in California on pumps owned by Tesoro Corp. of San Antonio.

TA carries 15 major fuel brands including Tesoro, Exxon and Mobil.

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, a fuel clerk at TA told Land Line that a “fuel expert” had visited the Oak Grove plaza about a month ago to advise the staff about fuel temperature.

The clerk said the “expert” informed them that vapors escape more rapidly during a summer fill-up than during a winter fill-up but that losses caused by hot temperatures were negligible.

Consumers concerned about “hot fuel” – retail gasoline and diesel sold at temperatures higher than 60 degrees – are worried that they are getting short-changed at the pumps.

Several consumer-driven lawsuits have been filed in federal court seeking class action-status against oil companies and retailers. They want the businesses to fix the problem by installing automatic temperature-compensation equipment on retail pumps. While the Association is not a participant in the lawsuits, several OOIDA members are.

Critics of big oil and hot fuel, such as the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in California, say the stickers are an admission that hot fuel exists and is a problem.

Land Line played phone tag with a TravelCenters of America spokesman on Tuesday afternoon but had not made direct contact as of late Tuesday afternoon.

– By David Tanner, staff writer