Chances are your local gas station is violating the law.

Just this week I visited several gas stations that not only ruined my day but were also violating the law. It's a common problem that is plaguing gas stations all over the Hudson Valley, but no one seems to be doing anything about it.

As I started my car one morning I was greeted with a "low tire pressure" warning on my dashboard. Like many other people in the Hudson Valley, the sudden dip in temperature caused my tires to lose pressure. But luckily, as far as warnings lights go, this is a pretty simple and inexpensive one to remedy. Or so I thought.

I pulled into a gas station not too far from my home that offers free air. After taking off the caps from my tires I went to fill the first one and nothing happened. I asked an employee if they needed to turn on the air and they informed me that the pump was not working. "Sorry," they said. So I left.

At my next stop up the road I dropped 75 cents into the machine (a bit pricy for "air," but ok) and I waited for it to turn on. Nothing happened. And this time there was a huge line inside so I just decided to leave.

A. Boris
A. Boris

At another station I pumped even more quarters into their machine and it started up. I thought this was a good sign until I tried to fill my tire and it only got deflated more Upon closer investigation I discovered that there was a hole in the hose and the pump was useless. So now, after visiting three gas stations, my tires were in even worse shape than when I started.

At the fourth station, now over $2 deep into my quest for tire pressure, I finally got a machine that pumped out air, but the tire pressure gauge was fused shut. So I could fill up my tires but had to guess just how full they were. Luckily, I had a portable gauge in my glove compartment and was able to finally get that dashboard light to turn off.

All four of these gas stations were actually breaking the law

It turns out that not only were these gas stations terrible at customer service, but they were also violating a law that's been on the books in New York since 1984. According to the New York Times, the law clearly states that "New York State filling stations with four or more gasoline pumps (must) make compressed air available to motorists." While gas stations can charge for the air, they have to make sure the pumps are working and air is available to customers. Every day that the air pump does not work results in a $25 fine.

It's sad that there even needs to be a law like this. Owners of gas stations should be vigilant in making sure that their equipment is in proper working order. Of course, things break down, but it was clear in these instances that there was no sense of urgency to fix their broken air pumps.

Maybe someone should start handing out fines. I know of four gas stations to start collecting money from.

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