Gas station fraud

Mexico-gas_station-scamWhen driving your rental car in Mexico, beware that some Mexican gas stations close to the US border are known to have manipulated their gas pumps to indicate more liters or gallons on the meter than the true amount that’s been fueled. The owners of these gas stations have bribed the corrupt government officials who are supposed to regularly calibrate the pumps in order to let them continue their scam. As a result, people who are filling up their car at these stations are at risk of being overcharged by as much as 10% for gasoline they have not bought.

If you think you’re safe from this scam by filling up at a gas station from the government controlled Pemex oil company, you should be aware that some of these gas stations are franchise operated and therefore may still be run by a fraudulent franchise owner who runs this scam while Pemex is unaware of it.

Tijuana-Mexico-gas_station-fraudIf you want to fill up your car across the border in Mexico, take a good look around at which gas station the local taxi drivers fill up, and which pumps they tend to avoid. Taxi drivers are well aware of which pumps are honest and which are trying to scam their customers. If you’re a regular customer, you could test the calibration of the pump by bringing a five gallon jerrycan and filling it up with gasoline up to the marker at a US gas station and checking the exact amount of fuel that’s gone in. Then empty the jerrycan into the tank of your car and repeat the same process at the Mexican pump (1 gallon is 3.8 liters, so five gallons is 19 liters). If the difference is substantial, you’ve just proven that the meter has been tampered with and the gas station is trying to rip you off.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Tijuana and Mexico Tourist Scams Forum.


  1. Holiday season brings out greed in local policia. Out of country drivers (i.e Texas or California plares) be prepared to be pulled over for any or no reason so group of Mexican “police” can threaten towing your car. To retrieve the car they quote $150. We got out of it after they went thru every single item in the vehicle, and found nothing, by offering $20. DO NOT carry money anywhere but hidden on your body.
    PLUS U.S Customs has delayed me with Texas plates using dogs and mirrors , holding me up AT booth entrance simply because the officer said he “didn’t recognize” my car though I have been crossing same time for over a year.
    Just plan on being pulled over and pack accordingly.

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