Hot Fuel Costing Truckers at the Pump? | Apex Capital Blog

Hot Fuel Costing Truckers at the Pump?

by Apex Capital | September 25, 2012

For nearly half a decade, the debate over “hot fuel” has swung drastically from claims of “bogus lies” to “outright blatant consumer rip-off”. So what exactly is “hot fuel” and what are the facts behind it?

What is Hot Fuel?

Generally speaking, the scientific concept behind “hot fuel” states that, when diesel is heated, it expands. When cooled, it contracts. Diesel, as a general rule, is stored at 60 degrees during transport. It is sold to fueling companies based on volume, at the 60 degree mark.

Likewise, as any average consumer who has stored fuel in a plastic gas can knows, the can will collapse slightly in lower temperatures. But does the same ideology apply to truck stops? Do pumps actually rip off consumers when fuel is pumped, or do they measure per-volume regardless of temperature?

Class-Action Lawsuit About Hot Fuel

According to a class-action lawsuit against major oil companies, which was recently settled in June of this year, $21.6 million will be paid to compensate for any real, or imagined, damages. None of the companies admitted guilt, but rather, chose to settle to avoid further issues.

The lawsuit argued that, when the temperature is high outside, the diesel inside the holding tanks expands. Therefore, when consumers purchase the diesel fuel, they are getting less “potent” fuel than they would otherwise.

Instead of paying money to the settlement itself, one company, Valero Energy Corp., has opted to place thermometers inside each diesel well, with read-outs readily available for consumers at each pump.

When 20 average consumers in NE Oklahoma were asked if they understood the concept of “hot fuel”, 14 said they had no idea, 4 thought that it was a new type of gasoline, and 2 said it was related to people stealing gas. Only one consumer had a somewhat working knowledge of the situation, saying, “When it’s hot outside, the prices go up.”

On that note, would it be safe to argue that, when the temperature goes down, consumers get “more” bang for their buck, because the energy potential is more potent in contracted fuel?

While it is clear that more research is needed to determine whether or not consumers are experiencing any measurable loss to their pocket books, one fact is certain – diesel prices will always be high. Whether the high prices are a result of supply-and-demand, or temperature, consumers can expect to feel a pinch every time they fuel up.

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