Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Pump it on up!
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Jan 14, 2019
Print this page
Email this article

Question: On which side of your car is your fuel filler? No fair running outside to look. Thatís cheating; besides, you might get hurt pulling on your pants. Chances are most of you, at the very least, had to think about it. But, you donít have to think about what side your steering wheel is on, do you? Thatís because, unlike other crucial parts your car, there is no standardized place for which side you pump fuel into your car. Why not? 

Youíd think there would be some kind of consensus in the car industry so that trips to the gas station would be more orderly. How nice it would be not to wonder on which side of the pump you should pull your car. 

Itís not like there arenít any rules governing where you get to shove a hose full of incredibly flammable liquid into your car. Itís because of rules that the most convenient possible placeóin the center, so you can comfortably fill up from any sideóis now illegal.

Remember when the fuel filler was behind the license plate? And remember the Bel Air taillight fuel filler? Both are illegal now.  

The basic explanation for why the fuel filler should be placed on the passengerís side has to do with safety when, say, filling a car on the side of the road from a gas can. If youíre filling on the passengerís side, you have a car between you and traffic. If youíre on the driverís side, your vulnerable rump could be crushed to custard by the speeding cars. The opposite is true for right-hand-drive cars in foreign countries. 

Bottom line---nobody has any concrete idea about placement reasoning. Since the rear fuel filler was made illegal, car makers have been moistening their pencil lead on the tips of their tongues and attempting to design gasoline fillers that can be easily justified. Itís like sewing scrambled eggs.  Jaguar had the bright idea of twin-filler fuel tanks. That gave lazy Jaguar owners a choice between left side or right side. Yawn. 

Lanny and I recently traded a Chevy Traverse (filler on the left) to a Ford Explorer (filler on the right). Old habits die hard. Last weekend, Lanny pulled up close to the pump on the left side of the car. He exited the vehicle and stared at the blank side of the car. He quickly remembered the filler is on the RIGHT side of the car. Getting back in, he mumbled about his forgetfulness and pulled the car out and headed to another pump. He pulled up close to said pump on, once again, the LEFT side of the car, and got out to fill the car. Itís a good thing Lanny can chuckle at himselfÖ 

Öbecause my convulsive laughter was not pretty.