Tips for pumping gas that are real, not urban myths

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A customer pumps gas at The Army and Air Force Exchange Service gas station at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

These tips for pumping gas will keep you save from harm and fuel-saving myths. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/U.S. Air Force/Wikipedia)

If you believe the gas pumping myths out there, there are some tips for pumping gas that make a big difference. While some of them may bear some weight, the truth is that there are few secrets regarding how to pump gas. Here they are, and most of them are safety-related.

Dispelling gas pumping myths

Three common gas pumping tips tend to circulate online, and according to Snopes and other sources, all three are either completely false or mostly false. Here they are:

  1. Only fill your gas tank in the early morning when the ground temperature is cold, as the gas expands when it gets warmer and leads to the consumer getting something less than a gallon for their money.
  2. Squeeze the nozzle trigger lightly rather than all the way to minimize the amount of fuel that becomes vapor and leaves the tank, also causing you to get more for your money.
  3. Fill the tank when it is half full; don’t wait until a quarter-tank or less. This is because the more gas there is in the tank, the less air there is to occupy the empty space. Supposedly, because gasoline evaporates quickly, this technique traps more gas in the tank and less air, which contributes to better fuel efficiency.

Delivery temperature

Gas delivered straight from the refinery to the station will tend to be warm. Regardless, the actual savings derived from waiting for the gas to cool is negligible. On a somewhat related note, however, it does pay to wait if a tanker truck is there filling the station’s tank. There is a small amount of dirt and sludge stirred up when the tank is filled, although station filters do minimize the transmission via the gas pump. The thinking is that dirty gas hurts fuel efficiency, which it does if it’s dirty enough. This is unlikely to impact the average consumer, however.

Squeezing silly myths and tank levels

Again, research suggests that the impact of only squeezing the gas pump nozzle at the “low” setting or filling up at a half-tank or more is minimal. Yes, tiny amounts of money can be saved, but not enough to warrant excessive attention. Going to the gas pump every time the tank is half full takes time away from other activities, which in themselves have an unspecified value, in the Einsteinian sense.

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Some real tips for pumping gas

  • Choose the proper octane/gas type – Otherwise, you can ruin your engine, particularly if you pump diesel into a non-diesel engine. If you mess up, do not start the car. The tank must be drained and rinsed out several times
  • Consult your car’s owner’s manual to discern the proper octane needed. Typically, it’s just a recommendation
  • Position your gas tank access hatch on the side of the gas pump
  • Put car in park and shut off the engine before removing the gas cap or pumping
  • Don’t smoke while pumping gasoline, unless you want a stray spark to ruin your life
  • Don’t top off, as modern gas pump handles simply suck back the extra gas. You pay for it, but you don’t get it
  • Don’t forget to put the gas cap back on immediately after you’re done fueling the vehicle. Turn it at least three clicks to ensure a tight connection.

Take it, don’t shake it


The Consumerist



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