Is it legal for a gas station to charge you to inflate the tires?

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An adequate pressure in the car tires is essential for the safety of the vehicle itself and those who travel in it. Many drivers resorted to pumps available at gas stations: in most, this service was free. We speak in the past and conditional because more and more establishments charge for it: Can gas stations charge us to inflate the tires? Is it legit?

What began as a residual practice It has now become a prevailing fashion. Before it was easy to find a service station where correcting the tire pressure was free, now it is more complicated. And this has sparked complaints from drivers, who wonder if this change is allowed.

What does the law say?

The truth is that yes: there is no law preventing companies that run service stations from charging drivers for using the pump. Not surprisingly, it is a machine that they have had to install, they must maintain…

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What the norm does specify are the conditions that the gas station must meet if you decide to establish that this service will be paid at your facilities. You have to indicate it in a visible and permanent way with a sign that is legible and that indicates the price, the accepted currencies and if you return change. In addition, it must include the instructions for use and the duration of the service.

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The law places special emphasis on the clarity of service: the gas station cannot confuse the user, who must be clear, from the beginning, that it is paid. And it is that if you do not inform him in advance, the driver may present a complaint sheet and take the case before the General Directorate of Commerce and Consumption. Finally, the service station will not be able to offer the use of the pump if it is broken: in this case, it must also signpost it with a sign indicating the period in which it will not be working.

little regulation

Gas stations and drivers put the accent on lack of regulation for this type of services: when it exists, it usually depends on the autonomous community and is characterized by being lax. Using the regulations in force in the Community of Madrid on the rights of consumers and users as an example, Article 9.1 establishes that service stations must have air pumps. Article 9.4, for its part, determines that if its use is for payment, it must clearly inform about it and about its payment.

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For this reason, it is possible to go to a gas station where they do not charge us for adjusting the pressure of the tires of our car… and in the next one that the same service is not free.

the alternative

Taking into account that experts recommend checking tire pressure every two weeks or every 1,000 kilometers, there is an alternative to minimize the impact that this operation can have on our pocket: buy a portable air compressor to inflate the wheels of your car (and other objects) at any time.

Most of these devices have two ways to connect to the valve (with a clip or screw) and give the option of establish the appropriate pressure for our tires so that, when it reaches that level, the compressor stops on its own. Some are even equipped with a light to carry out this operation in low visibility.

If you decide to get a portable air compressor, in the following links you will find some of the best rated by users at different prices (updated 11/15/2022):

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