Road Rules – Tanking Up

Maybe you’ve seen people do it – put the fuel nozzle in their gas tank and get back inside their car to wait. Is that OK? While you’re not legally obligated to stand at the pump as you fill, you might want to think twice about hopping back in your car.

Exiting and re-entering a car can build up a static charge (not unlike shuffling across a carpet in socks), potentially creating a dangerous spark that could ignite fuel vapors during refueling. Although very rare, fires have started when drivers fail to discharge static by touching a metal part of the car (ideally the hood or driver’s door) before inserting or removing the nozzle from their gas tank. Risks are higher in cold, dry weather.

You’ll also want to follow these fuel-smart tips:

  • Don’t top off┬áto get a few extra miles or round up to an even dollar amount. Not only do you risk a spill, but you could damage your car’s vapor recovery system, causing your Check Engine light to come on and, perhaps, setting yourself up for costly repairs.
  • Keep your passenger door locked. We’ve received reports of stealthy thieves who wait until your attention is focused on the pump to quietly open the door and help themselves to whatever’s on the front seat (often a purse).
  • Don’t leave the pump unattended. As tempting as it might be to run inside the convenience store or use the restroom as your tank fills, stay with your car. If the pump malfunctions, you’ll be there to correct it. Plus, you avoid the risk of “pump rage” if your car fills faster than you expected and you block a line of people waiting for their turn to fill.
  • Obey posted rules. At minimum, that’s turning off your engine and not smoking.
  • Keep portable containers on the ground when you fill them. A spill is much more likely if you’re holding both the gas can and the pump nozzle. Always use an approved portable container.

These tips are from the March 2020 Pemco Perspective Newsletter.

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