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How Pump Calibration Works at Petro-Canada

We know that everyone wants to get the most out of their gasoline dollar - and the last thing you want to worry about is whether you're being charged extra because of malfunctioning equipment.

We've had a few questions about our gas pump calibration recently and I thought it might be helpful to share a little bit about Petro-Canada's fuel dispensing equipment and how it's maintained throughout the year. System checks are not exactly glamorous, but it matters to us - and to you - that everything is working properly!

PumpTalkPost_07_26_2011_PHOTO                                           Photo: iStockphoto

Petro-Canada uses industry-leading fuel dispensing equipment at all of our sites. Once the pumps are installed at a location, they are calibrated and inspected to make sure they're functioning properly. Thanks to the latest technology, we can monitor fuel inventory down to the milli-litre at each of our sites, to make sure that the equipment is working and dispensing at proper levels.

Measurement Canada regulations* require that our fuel dispensing equipment be inspected and calibrated a minimum of every two years; Petro-Canada conducts our inspection annually.  We have a stringent fuel dispenser maintenance program in place to make sure that all of our equipment is trouble-free. And outside of our yearly inspections, we count on our certified and manufacturer-trained technicians for any additional up-to-date reporting.

If and when a discrepancy is identified - either by a site operator, a technician or a customer - the pump is immediately shut down until it can be re-calibrated.
Any other questions about pump calibration? Let us know in the comments!

- Erin F.

*See both the Fairness at the Pumps Act as well as the proposed amendments to the Weights and Measures Act.


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Please explain the posted comment on most pumps " Corrected to 15 dergees Celcius" and why this wouldn't always measrure to a full litre at ambient tepuratures.

Pump Talk

Hi Gordon,
There is a component in the dispenser that corrects to the 15 degree requirement called the ATC (Automatic Temperature Compensation). The correction to 15 degrees is set by Weights and Measures, part of Measurement Canada.

Tyler Schenn


as Pump Talk has not answered your question, i will attempt to do so...

ATC is used to make things fair for both the consumer and the retailer. Fuel volume expands and contracts at a pretty significant amount, especially for a product that is sold on volume. So what ATC does,is compensated the volume dispensed to the volume it would be at 15 degrees...There is a very long table utilized by Weights and Measures that multiplies the volume dispensed by a VCF (volume correction factor) for the temp that the fuel dispensed is, and that is the amount of fuel that you are charged for.

Now what does this mean...well, when the fuel that is being dispensed is at -20, you actually receive less fuel that what you paid for...hang on, before you get upset, if you were to take that full tank of fuel home, and let it sit in your 15 degree garage, the fuel would expand to the amount that you paid for. In the summer, when the fuel in the tank is +25, you actually receive more fuel than you paid for, but when the fuel cools to 15 degree, you will have the same amount as you paid for...

So...again, what does this mean? Well, the average temperature of fuel in underground and aboveground tanks throughout the year in Canada is actually just under the ATC does actually work to equal out things for consumers and retailers alike...But, you will see that there is no ATC in the USA or other areas that the average fuel temperature is over 15 degrees. I'm sure you can figure out why, but the main reason is that the retailer would actually be on the losing end if compensation was in place..

Hopefully this helps...

Tyler Schenn

oh, and i forgot Gordon, the ATC has absolutely no effect on the mechanical calibration of a dispenser. ATC is a mathematical formula that is electronically computed to generate the displayed volume.

the Mechanical calibration of a fuel dispenser will change over time, as the internals of the meter will wear just like any other item that has moving parts within it.

Bill C-14 will help to rectify many calibration issues, especially for companies that have not been calibrating one a regular program...

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