By on May 7, 2008

gas-pump-croppedpreview.jpgAutoblog reports that some gas pumps refuse to display the latest price per gallon because their manufacturers never thought the price would get so high. In the gas-price equivalent of a Y2K problem, Washington state has at least 12 pumps which cannot display more than $3.99 per gallon. These pumps have gear-driven, mechanical processors and readouts. The mechanical marvels require a factory retrofit to handle gas prices over $4/gal, whereas modern, computerized pumps are more than happy to charge you whatever keeps the tax revenues rolling in the market demands. The retrofit can cost station owners up to $8500. In many cases, the parts are unavailable at any price. The state's weight and measures authority is allowing station owners facing this problem to simply multiply gallons pumped by the price of gas, provided that price is clearly posted. TTAC's resident "people who were alive in the 70's" inform us that this was also a problem in the bad old days, when gas prices also rose higher than pumps could count (whaddaya mean it's $1.09 a gallon??). Their old-timey-yet-effective solution? Set the machines to half-price and then just multiply by two. Brilliant!

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21 Comments on “You Know Gas is Getting Expensive When…...”

  • avatar

    Uhhh…i remember in the 70’s being pissed off when it went to .38/gal. Oh my.

  • avatar

    I miss the days when the signs all had a giant 1 painted in front of a decimal point and the only numbers that could be changed were the “cent” ones. God… 5 years ago was nice.

  • avatar

    There is at least 1 station in CT that does the 1/2 price times 2 trick. Naturally it is full serve.

  • avatar

    Uhhh…i remember in the 70’s being pissed off when it went to .38/gal. Oh my.

    When first drove t was 46.9 c/ imp gallon n Canada. Some folks say u could get better deal at Sears gas too.

    20 some yrs ago I watched Mel Gibson’ road warrior, it can be reality soon.

    What about gant Dirigibles/ Hot air balloons? Will they make better transportaton. Only no Cyclones n the area though.

    Are we all travelling down the Hershey highway?

  • avatar

    How about the progressive disappearance of the “three-price sign” (or four-price, if you’re lucky AND they carry Diesel).

    All the Chevrons here went to showing just the 87 octane price, which JUST HAPPENED TO coincide with jacking up the relative prices for 89 and 93.

    Exxon still lists all three around here, but they are selling E10 and nobody else is. Meh.

  • avatar

    Does anyone remember the old days when you had to walk through the driving snow, uphill — both ways– to get gas?

  • avatar

    I recall some stations in the 70s switching to selling liters when prices went over a buck a gallon. It was cheaper to recalibrate the flow meter than to replace the pump or depend on the cashier to remember to multiply by 2.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    It’s now cheaper to wash my car at a local quickie wash than it is to buy a gallon of gas. That’s bad. That’s really bad.

  • avatar

    You know it’s expensive when they start selling it by the pint or litre.
    Learn something from the UK… don’t let them do it!

  • avatar

    Gas pumps with mechanical displays? Where do you find such beasts? Bum-f*ck, Nowhere?

  • avatar

    I propose they set the gas at 10% cost, then paint the decimal one spot over.

  • avatar

    Anybody recall “Shell of the Future”? This was unleaded gas sold out of a baby blue pump in the early 1970’s, well before the 1975 rollout…This product was only available for a short time before it was pulled…

  • avatar


    Hey, Niedermeyer! Got a question for you:

    So, do you like cars?

    Do you enjoy driving them?

    Did you ever think about what you need in order to enjoy cars and driving them?

    Well, “roads.” “Roads” come in pretty handy.

    Maybe you like doing slaloms around potholes, but I’ll bet that you prefer nice, smooth roads.

    Didja ever have to PAY FOR YOUR OWN ROAD??

    Dang, those things are pretty spendy, aren’t they?



    Are you telling me that it just pisses you off to no end that you have to pay your part of that deal? Are you thinking that you should be able to enjoy all the roads you want, without paying for them?

    Or, perhaps, do you suppose some kind of magic ROAD FAIRY comes out at night and builds and fixes all the roads, free of charge??

    Each and every person who “enjoys cars and enjoys driving them” should consider the relative pittance we pay in gas taxes as one of the cheapest investments they can make towards the enjoyment of driving. Without those taxes, we simply wouldn’t have any roads. I hope you can appreciate that.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the comment! well put!
    two cheers for socialized roads,
    two cheers for socialized schools,
    two cheers for socialized law enforcement,
    two cheers for socialized fire departments,
    two cheers for socialized national defense,
    two cheers for socialized parks,
    two cheers for socialized medicine

    anyways – there is the point of the ridiculous amount of waste that goes into building roads – ie: gov. inefficiencies… – i believe that’s where all the moaning about taxes comes in…

    could probably do at least 20% more with current spending…

  • avatar

    thoots: good point

    improvement_needed: generally good points except consider the following facts:

    universal medical care: All of Scandinavia and Central Europe, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada,(generally every first world nation on the planet.)

    private medical care: US, Africa, most middle eastern states, China (yes!)… (excepting the US, generally every third world nation on the planet)

    oh yes, and US medical care costs double what anybody else’s cost in spite of only 50% of the people having insurance. can you spell “BIG INSURANCE AND PHARMA COMPANIES HAVE YOU HOODWINKED OVER THE COMMIE BOGEYMAN!”

  • avatar

    ash78, I couldn’t agree with you more. The stations here in NJ with the lowest regular prices (esp on the highway) have outrageous prices for plus and premium. But I hear that E10 regular is actually 89 octane. Does anyone out there know if this is true? I switched from plus to regular in my Hemi Grand Cherokee and don’t see any difference.

  • avatar

    thoots, come clean – you’re a politician aren’t you?

  • avatar

    If taxes are so great, why not demand that only politicians get to pay them? (sarcasm)

    We all know we want to have good roads. I get to pay taxes as high as the rest of the country here in Michigan, but our roads S U C K big time. Some of the worst in the country. So, can I complain now?

    How about the people in Minneapolis who paid bucoup bucks for road taxes and gas taxes and then had the bridge collapse?

    We all pretty well know that taxation is 80% rip off, 20% necessary, at least it has been so since about 90 years ago approximately.

    I think that’s what Edward’s underlying point may well be, thoots. At least that’s how I perceive such comments.

  • avatar


    my apologies for an attempt at humour..
    and assuming an american audiance…

  • avatar

    Heck, improvement needed, on the contrary. Keep up the good work! We could all use some humor / humour now and again.

    Three cheers for Pooh…
    For who?
    For Pooh! Oh, listen do!

  • avatar

    No, I’m not a politician, and I’ll agree that a lot of anti-tax attitude comes from what citizens have seen politicians do.

    But, I really get irked at people who seemingly believe that we could have things like roads and other infrastructure without paying any taxes. The same goes for those “socialized” comments. Please explain how something like a $50 million freeway project that’ll get you from your house to your office is going to happen if we don’t do something like agreeing to tax ourselves and pool the money in order to build such things.

    As for “bad roads,” that almost always is a signal that there’s just not enough money to go around to keep things in good shape. Since it’s pretty unpopular to raise taxes, most states haven’t raised gas taxes for years — even decades. How well would you be faring if you hadn’t had a pay raise for the last decade or two?

    As for the bridge collapse, that was mind-boggling. The state of modern bridge inspection technology and techniques shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. I’ve never heard if they ever figured out what happened, but that bridge appeared to be in as good condition as the bridges the rest of us will be expected to drive over for several more decades. At the very least, it shows everyone a good example of how much it costs to build such projects, and what kind of disruption such a failure can cause. Never-minding the fact that people were killed in the tragedy….

    As for “80% rip-off,” that’s mainly happening with the current Presidential administration and its avoidance of prudent public purchasing ethics. Your gas taxes, though, are probably some of the most transparent taxes you could examine. Decisions are usually made in very open, public meetings and processes, and most projects these days are designed by private engineering firms and all are built by private contractors selected through a competitive bidding process. You won’t find any no-bid contracts given by politicians to buddies at Halliburton here.

    I still think that “car enthusiasts” ought to be more than willing to pay for the roads they drive their cars upon. And we truly aren’t keeping up with the funding needs for our road systems — inflation has really eaten away at gasoline taxes that haven’t come anywhere close to keeping up. Yes, some states and/or some areas are doing better than others, but when you look at what folks in other countries are paying for their road systems, well, just look at the condition of your roads, and the congestion along your commute. It simply takes an ever-increasing amount of money to make improvements in those areas!

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