Trading Standards will increase the number of routine petrol forecourt checks across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay this summer.

Usually around a dozen forecourts a year are tested – this summer up to an extra 20 will be tested, with a possibility of more if needed.

Fuel pumps are regularly tested by Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service to ensure that the pumps are legal.

The checks test if the amount of fuel a pump is showing the motorist is being dispensed is actually going into the vehicle.

To prevent fraud, fuel pumps are sealed to prevent adjustment or tampering, and tampering with them is illegal.

In the last financial year equipment at 12 forecourts was routinely tested, with no issues found and no complaints were received during that period.

However, since fuel costs have shot up, there has been concern about the pricing and accuracy of pumps – and the increased checks are to reassure customers, and not as a response to specific evidence of fraud.

Mark Peacock from Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service said: “Testing petrol pumps for accuracy is a particularly important part of our work as, unlike most purchases of goods by weight or volume, the actual amount of fuel that goes into the tank is never actually seen by the consumer.

“They only have the pump meter and their fuel gauge to rely on, therefore, any detriment to the consumer is difficult to spot.

“These tests are routine and although there have been complaints, we believe that the vast majority our local forecourts are run honestly, and we will publish the results of our testing over the coming months to prove that.”