A New Driver Abuse: Pay For Inflating Tires

In spite of the service obligations of the gas stations, their collection effort has reached the inflation pumps. More and more stations are installing payment machines for wheel inflation. A practice that has come to stay at the expense of our pockets.


One of the mantras that all drivers have in our head is the need to check the pressure of our tires at least once a month. Something that is not always easy, since it requires going through a gas station, that the air pump works and is in good condition, check the air and return home. So unless we have an air compressor at home we don’t talk about an easy process to execute.

As if that were not enough, more and more gas stations have joined an unfortunate fashion such as changing the pressure gauges and air pumps for machines with which to measure the pressure of our tires … upon payment. A situation that is an abuse by these companies and that discourages users from circulating with the correct pressure in their tires.


The machines of discord

These machines began to appear about five years ago and, since then, they have proliferated throughout the service stations of the large oil companies. These machines offer air, water and, in some cases, air freshener, at the price of one euro for every five minutes of use. A fairly short time considering that between removing valves, placing the pressure gauge, fitting, inflation and checking the air we can go 10 minutes quietly.

But the problem is even worse when we face the machine in person. And there are many users who comment that the inflation speed of these machines is slow. In general, in a conventional air pump it is enough to press just a few seconds I will add the little air that can be missing to the wheel, while inflating an empty wheel does not take us more than about 30 seconds. However, with these machines the waiting times for inflation “casually” are increased, by using pumps with a lower output capacity. Something that forces the user to have to spend more money in case he wants to complete the tire inflation operation correctly.

As if that were not enough, the design of the machines is also not the most comfortable in terms of use. In general, traditional models use simple, reliable mechanical pumps, while these models use electronic systems whose reliability is doubtful. Something that leads to another problem that is common: maintenance.


Even more poor maintenance

We have all had the experience of having to visit several gas stations with a loose wheel until we have found one that had an inflation pump in conditions. The total lack of maintenance of these pumps, together with a considerable use of them, used to cause the general state of pumps and gauges to be deficient. A problem that, knowing the gas stations, will surely be repeated with these equipment.

However, here there is a more direct responsibility on the part of the companies. If I have paid for the use of a service, as with these pumps, the company is obliged to lend me the same in the best conditions. Therefore, these machines should have the corresponding metrological control in accordance with the law, as well as having all the elements in perfect condition for use. Something that, from the experience we are seeing, we know that it will not happen, unless there are sanctions by the administrations. Administrations that, for now, neither are nor expected.


The consequences

The consequences of this new abuse are obvious. If we already had a hard time looking at the pressure of our tires, now that we have to pay for the air, it will surely cost us even more. In addition, we will find situations in which for not having a loose euro and because they do not want to charge us with a card we have to leave a gas station without looking at the air.

All this in a country in which a good part of the drivers circulate with inadequate pressure in their tires. That is why it is surprising that, despite the fact that the DGT frequently insists that we have the tires well checked casually, it does not facilitate this task with adequate legislation, which forces the gas stations to offer this type of services for free and not to convert them into a New source of income.

Worst of all, the current legislation allows gas stations to commit this type of abuse. Something to which they appeal, the legality, when they are raised the unethical nature of this measure. That is why it is surprising that since the administrations no measures have been taken yet aimed at preventing the installation of these machines, even if it is in the name of the road safety with which both the mouth is filled.


The alternatives

At this point we only have three options left. One of them is the obvious: go through the hoop. Always carry a euro by hand and get the idea that they will charge us for something as simple as checking the air in our tires. The second option is to look for independent gas stations or those of large companies that have not yet implemented these payment machines and continue to offer the air for free.

The third option is to add to our purchase of the best tires ( You can find here some purchase options ) for our car a portable compressor. These small compressors are connected directly to the lighter of the car and allow to inflate the wheels anywhere, so that we are not going to depend on machines or having a gas station nearby. In addition, they are not much slower than the new machines we have been talking about, with the advantage of being a equipment used and controlled by us. As for its cost, there are quality air compressors from about 30 euros.


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