Ask Laz: Can a gas station charge for providing air for your tires?


Sharon wants to know how gas stations get away with charging people for providing air for their tires.

She could just as easily ask why so many California drivers don’t seem to know that, under state law, gas stations are required to provide free air if you purchase fuel.

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

Some gas stations charge as much as $1.50 for air. And many drivers, not knowing any better, will drop quarters into the slot so they can fill their tires.


If they’re also filling their tank, they’re making a mistake.

Since 1999, California law has required “every service station in this state to provide, during operating hours, water, compressed air and a gauge for measuring air pressure to the public for use in servicing any passenger or commercial vehicle.”

The law requires “that these air and water services be made available at no cost to customers who purchase motor vehicle fuel.”

There’s supposed to be a sign near the compressor notifying people of their right, but such signs may be too small to read, or hidden, or not even posted.

If a gas station owner insists that you have to pay for air even after you’ve used the pump, stand your ground. If that doesn’t work, here’s the form to report the station to state officials.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.