I’ve been driving the same car for several years, but whenever I have to fill up at the gas station, I somehow forget which side the fuel tank is on (mental note to self: it’s on the passenger side). Part of the problem is that the car I used to have had the tank on the driver’s side. Last night, as I stood at the gas station, struggling to pull the fuel hose around to the other side of the car, I could feel an Ask Mike coming on…
So, why are some fuel tanks on the passenger side while others are on the driver’s? A seemingly simple question, but one that has baffled many a car nut. Car Talk’s Click and Clack wrote about this back in 1998, and offer up several theories. According to the boys, there is no universal standard for placement of the gas filler, but “the exhaust system has to go down one side of the car, and the gasoline filler tube generally goes on the other.” I don’t know if this is true for 100% of the cars on the road, but it seems to be the most credible theory available.
Some believe it has to do with the car’s country of origin, but that theory has been disproven. (Heck, not even all Fords have the fuel tank on the same side.) Another theory: It’s a safety issue. For example, say you run out of gas on the side of the road. You’d want your gas tank to be on the passenger side when pour in your gallon of gas, so you’re not in danger of being hit by passing cars. Obviously, that theory totally ignores the fact that a large number of cars have the gas tank on the driver’s side…
It could be that car manufacturers mix it up at random so gas stations can handle more cars. That makes sense to me, but I was unable to find any definitive proof. In the end, this may be one of life’s mysteries that can’t be solved, like the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa or the enduring popularity of “Saved By the Bell” reruns.
Do you guys have any theories for why the placement of the gas tank isn’t standardized? Please leave a comment below, and don’t forget to include a link or two to support your claim.
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