Can You Pump Gas With The Car On?

Can you pump gas with the car on? This is a question commonly asked by drivers. Are there complications when pumping gas with your car on? These and other related topics are covered in this article.

It is possible to pump gas while the car runs, but it’s a hazardous action. You should avoid it instead of risking your life and that of the people around you. This is so because gas is highly flammable and can be easily triggered into a fire.

As you read on in this article, you will learn more about why you should avoid doing this and what and how you should go about it if you have no choice but to do it.

Technically, you can pump gas with the car on, but you should avoid it. Gas is highly flammable, and the slightest catalyst can ignite it, so these risks should always be minimized.

Most times, a vehicle’s dangerous and complex nature is often taken for granted. However, everything has to be done accordingly to avoid passenger injury or accidents.

Although pumping gasoline could be easy, if you are unaware of the do’s and don’ts, it could create serious havoc.

Also Read: Why Does the Gas Pump Keep Stopping? (Solved)

How Flammable Is Gasoline?

Can You Pump Gas With The Car On

Let’s discuss the chemical properties of gasoline and why it is so volatile before we talk about the right safety measures.

Gasoline is hard to ignite when it’s in a liquid form, and it needs about 247°C to ignite without a catalyst.

Meanwhile, the flashpoint remains very important – a flashpoint is a point in which the liquid releases sufficient vapors to cause an ignition in the atmosphere.

For example, the flashpoint of gasoline is -23°C, which means even when the atmosphere is cold, a single spark or match can ignite the gas.

Gasoline effectively emits high volatile vapors that have more weight than the air in the atmosphere, so they stay around any open canister, particularly around fuel stations. However, it is not so visible, so it can travel far from its source without notice.

The flashpoint of diesel is 55°C, and this makes it safer. Yet, on a hot day, it could still ignite.

Why Is Pumping Gas With The Car On Dangerous?

If you visit a fuel station, you will notice various obvious warnings, such as turning off your engine and avoiding any form of flame, like smoking.

Open flame sources are hazardous and near-guaranteed gas ignition. When you open the fuel tank and insert the nozzle, the gasses escape into the atmosphere as you fill the tank with more fluid.

Many videos of people causing fires in fuel stations can be found online, and this is an example.

The truth is that when you leave your vehicle to run, it won’t be as hazardous as an open flame, but supposing a hundred or thousand cars go into the fuel station every day, you will need only one vehicle to ignite a fire.

You could cause fire by creating and discharging static buildup on your clothing near the gas tank. However, always turn off your car at a gas station irrespective of the risk level.

The matter concludes that allowing your car to run in a gas station is considered illegal and a public hazard in every part of the world. Accidents may not be caused, but you will go into trouble.

How about pumping fuel at home? Also, leaving your engine to run is a bad practice, although the risk is relatively low. The only justification for running the car while pumping gas will be a bad starter because you may get stranded if you turn off the engine.

Also Read: Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas (Causes & Solutions)

How To Properly Pump Gas

Can You Pump Gas With The Car On

We will be discussing the basic guideline on how to pump gas, which will be helpful to teenagers, new drivers, and the people that require assistance from the fuel station workers. Although the process is quite simple, it’s best to know the basics.

  1. Note the vehicle’s side that carries the gas cap. On your dashboard, you may see a triangle beside the fuel station symbol, and this indicates the fuel cap location.
  2. Switch off the engine. If your car has an unlocking button for the gas lid, remember to use it.
  3. Take off the lid and reveal the fuel cap. On the lid, you could find important information on the type of fuel your car uses.
  4. Take the gas cap off. You could easily hang it from the fuel lid due to its two cuts.
  5. Wear a pair of expendable gloves, look at the gas terminal and then decide the type of fuel you want.
  6. Insert the correct fuel nozzle into the tank, and place it inside properly.
  7. Clasps and hold the lever to enable the free flow of the fuel. Some fuel nozzles possess a latch that relieves the pressure from your hand.
  8. You can confirm the quantity and price of fuel you have pumped on the fuel meter.
  9. If you intend to stop the pump early, release the lever and let the fuel trickle in till you get to the correct cost and quantity.
  10. To ensure that your refueling is complete, allow the nozzle to stop automatically. Don’t add more fuel beyond this level.
  11. Return the nozzle to its stand. Once you mount the nozzle, it can not be used again till the bill is sorted.
  12. Screw the fuel cap back, and screw till it clicks. Cover the lids, take off your gloves and make payment.

Also Read: Is ARCO Gas Good or Bad for Your Car?

Service Station Habits of Motorists: What Were They Thinking?!

Pumping Fuel

When pumping gas, can you keep your vehicle on? The answer technically is yes, you can. This is because pumping fuel into a running car is harmless if there is no spark within reach. If you watch a Formula 1 race or NASCAR, you will see how refueling is done by the pit crews- with the vehicle running.

Also, you have one strong reason for not keeping your vehicle on – posters on the gas pumps that warn you to switch your car off while pumping. Think of it as a liability that the gas station is trying as much as possible to avoid because an explosion could be caused by static electricity.

Stay Put

The gas pumps are pretty easy to operate. While fueling, the spigot is held open by a locking mechanism, and this provides a hand-free exercise until there is a need for disconnection.

Theoretically, once your fuel tank is filled, the pump should stop pumping immediately, although this may not be 100% correct. Therefore, avoid going to the restroom, getting coffee, or any other thing while pumping. Instead, keep your eye fixed on the pump. Be careful.

No Smoking

Try as much as possible to avoid smoking when pumping fuel. Also, the placards at the gas station serve as a constant reminder. The chances of fuel ignition while smoking is relatively high. Just a single snap of cigarette ash close to the fuel tank could result in a blaze.

Red Fuel Cans

Are you aware of color-coded fuel containers? For gasoline, the container color is red; for kerosene, a blue container is used; and for diesel, yellow. You could use green containers for oil.

OSHA regulates that color-coded cans must be kept in place for more accessible selection. You should not choose other cans for storage. Never utilize barrels, plastic bags, and any other can not be modeled to carry fuel because it could result in dangerous leaks.

Children and Pets

During vacation, the family spends more time together with pets and children. During such long trips, frequent stops at a gas station for snacks and fuel are required but do not allow your pets and children to hang around the car, especially while fueling.

If they accidentally run into an active fuel nozzle and cause spillage, you will have to quickly reach out to the panic button and cease fuel flow. Instead, take your pet to a field and your children to the toilet for relief. Once you are done, you can continue your trip.

Can You Pump Gas With The Car On

How Do You Know How Much Gas to Put In Your Car?

Considering the quantity of fuel in the tank, you may not know the appropriate fuel your car can take because you will also have to consider the fuel line, which is the difference between the total capacity and fuel tank capacity.

Meanwhile, you have nothing to worry about if you are pumping at a fuel station. The nozzle will automatically detect when the tank is filled and cease the fuel flow. However, when you are refueling at home, you have to estimate the fuel quantity left in the tank minus the total tank capacity. Then you will know the amount of fuel to use.

Frequently Asked Questions – Can You Pump Gas With The Car On?

How to put gas in a car without a funnel?

You could use a plastic bottle of about one or 2L if you want to refuel from a container and do not own a filter. Wash the bottle properly, and cut the rear part of the bottle with a knife. Insert it into the gas tank, which serves as a funnel substitute. Ensure to fix it correctly and that the safety bolt that stops the escapes of fumes is pressed.

Is it illegal to pump gas while your car is running?

In all fifty states, it is illegal to run an engine and pump at the same time. Although the risks may be less, you must follow the law and switch your vehicle off before pumping.

Should you touch your car before pumping gas?

Touching your vehicle before pumping is a good idea because it helps you to release the static energy your body may have accumulated. Meanwhile, you have already done it by shutting your door and removing the metal gas tank lid.

Can I be on my phone while pumping gas?

The rules and regulations set by the fuel station will determine this. However, regarding safety risks, your phone is virtually incapable of causing a conflagration.

Can you walk away from your car while pumping gas?

It is dangerous to walk away from an active fuel nozzle. Once the latch is engaged, there will be a free flow of fuel from the nozzle till the fuel tank is filled. However, when it falls off and the latch is not disengaged, the fuel will be spread around without control until it is switched off manually.

What happens if you drive off with the gas pump?

If the gas hose is pulled out, the consequences could be severe. The modern systems provide an inbuilt safety latch that disconnects the hose to avoid fire hazards and further damage. But for the old methods, pulling the terminal could cause a spark that would, in turn, lead to a fire outbreak. Checking the fuel lines with your mirror before zooming off the fuel station is a good practice.

Is it better to pump gas at night?

As there is a drop in temperature, the gasoline becomes denser, but the variation in the quantity of fuel acquired will be marginal. The rule is related to butane, propane, and other flammable gas.

Conclusion – Can You Pump Gas With The Car On?

Although the technical answer to “can your vehicle be running while pumping” is yes, the practical everyday answer is NO. So when you are refueling, switch off your vehicle and remove your keys from the ignition.

Leave the gas station fire for Hollywood stunts, and ensure you take proper precautions every time you fuel your car for your safety and that of others.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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