Which Side the Fuel Door?


Fuel Door

Quick: On which side is your vehicle’s fuel door?

Could you answer instinctively?

Did you know that your car tells you what side the fuel door is on?  I didn’t know until just a little while ago that my car does.  And probably yours does too.

Look at your fuel guage.  See that little diamond shaped arrow next to the emoji for fuel pump.  what-side-your-car-is-gas-tankThere it is.  The indicator for which side of your car the filler door is located.

Have you ever pulled to the fuel island to discover you’re on the wrong side? Our CR-V had the filler on the opposite side of the car from our new Outback.  I am regularly driving up to the wrong side of the car to fill up.  (Of course with a larger tank and better mileage we get almost twice the range with the Outback so we aren’t filling up nearly as often.)

Have you ever uttered bad words before or after you said, “Why don’t they put fuel doors on the same side of every car?!?” The answer to that question is complicated, if not convoluted.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, do not mandate side-of-the-car placement for this only-too-frequently-used feature of your car.  I bet we all have been flummoxed at least once having already purchased a new car and then finding out the fuel door wasn’t where we expected it to be.  And you know the power of habit.  Once you become accustomed to a left side door, or a right side door, you’re going to habitually go to that side of the pump until you break your now-obsolete-habit.

Manufacturers who have no legal obligation, nor marketing motivation to make our life easy are free to let their engineers place fuel doors on whichever side offers the easiest packaging.  If something on the new model needs to go where last year’s fuel door was located, hey, there’s no reason not to move it to the other side. And to be sure, there’s no demand for dual fuel doors.

Americans prefer left-mounted fuel doors, a Ford study revealed.  A driver’s-side fuel door makes it easier for drivers to place the car’s left fender close to fuel pump. But, let me ask you, when you bought your last car, did you consider which side of the car the fuel door was on as part of your buying decision?  I bet not!

Drivers in Japan, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and countries in southern Africa drive on the left side of the road and sit on the right side of the car.  It appears they prefer right-mounted fuel doors, given the tendencies of car manufacturers. Most automakers produces some vehicles with left fuel doors and some with right doors.

The bottom line: Fuel door position is not a random choice, but if engineers have a good reason to place fuel doors on the right, that’s where they go.

If you can’t remember the location of your fuel door, don’t be ashamed to look at the little diamond-arrow on your fuel gauge … BEFORE you pull up to the pump. Don’t follow my example, because I’m still  pulling up to the wrong side of the pump about 1/3 of the time!!!!!

Thanks to The Allstate Blog for content and ideas. 

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6 thoughts on “Which Side the Fuel Door?

  1. That tidbit came in handy for me when jumping into a rental at the airport on business trips, Peter. I guess I found that out maybe 10 years ago.

    I like Ford’s reasoning. I also like that they eliminated fuel caps. Much easier at the fuel island.

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  2. I never noticed that icon. I really liked the fuel door placement on my Sprinter-based RVs. It’s just inside the driver’s door. You don’t even have to walk anywhere to reach it. And your fuel tank is protected when your driver’s door is locked.

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    1. I agree about the convenience of the Sprinter fuel filler! Our SIL has a Sprinter and the first time I filled it for him I discovered exactly what you mean. I love the defector fuel “lock” having it behind the door too!

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  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Many years ago I remember having to drag the fuel hose across the car to pump my gas! Do they make them long enough to do that today? Great article, Peter. Thank you. Maybe I should have one of my characters forget which side his tank is on which leads him to meet the love of his life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL — well, I have forgotten which side a number of times, but then I’m forgetful about the oddest things. As for whether the hose is long enough to reach the other side of the car — I know I HAVE done it in the past. Too lazy to move the car!

      Liked by 1 person

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