Gas Tanks: Why Aren’t All Fuel Doors on the Same Side?
Must you look at the little diamond-shaped arrow on the fuel gauge EVERY time you fill up to know which side holds the fuel filler? Have you ever pulled to the fuel island to discover you’re on the wrong side? Did you utter 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.
With no legal or marketing motivation, and scant ownership enjoyment implications, car-company engineers are free to place fuel doors on whichever side offers the easiest packaging, according to Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer. He added that there’s not enough room — and no demand — for dual fuel doors.
“The placement of the fuel door is mainly a factor of fuel tank design, location and underbody packaging,” Nissan’s Steve Yaeger wrote in an email. “With all of the structure and components located underneath the vehicle, (engineers) would quickly encounter restrictions in trying to route the filler tube to the same side on every vehicle.”
If mechanisms such as a “big, honkin’ speaker” must be placed on the left side, engineers put the fuel door on the right, notes Schirmer.
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.
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