Gas station myth or fact: What you need to know when you refuel
On any given day, some 40 million Americans stop at gas stations to fill their tanks. For many, it’s a weekly routine, one they don’t spend much time analyzing, but are there things you think you know about your fill-up that just aren’t true?
Andrea Kaufman considers herself a fairly conscientious auto owner, but the St. Louis Park, Minn., resident admits she doesn’t know the finer details of pumping protocol. “I’ve heard plenty of gas station tips and tricks, but I’m not always sure which ones I should believe.”
Let’s set the record straight as energy experts dispel three common gas station myths.
Myth 1: It’s best to buy gas early in the day
The theory is that gasoline is denser at cooler temperatures, so you’ll get more fuel per gallon early in the morning. While the basic science is correct, the experts at Consumer Reports point out two practical reasons why this is a myth.
First, most gas stations store fuel in double-walled underground tanks that keep gas at steady temperatures. Second, even if there were variations, the volume difference between gasoline at 75 versus 60 degrees Fahrenheit is just 1 percent — not enough to be noticeable at the pump.
Myth 2: It’s dangerous to use a cell phone near gas pumps
According to the Federal Communications Commission, there is no documented incident of a wireless phone causing a gas station fire or explosion.
It’s true that many fuel companies post stickers on pumps warning motorists to turn off phones while refueling as cell phones could be a distraction. But the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) reports the most likely cause of fire at the pumps is static electricity created by drivers sliding in and out of vehicles. For safe refueling, PEI recommends you turn off the car engine, refrain from smoking and stay outside the vehicle.
Myth 3: All brands of gas are the same
Like more than two-thirds of Americans, Kaufman buys gas primarily based on price and convenience. “I don’t know if there is a difference between brands,” she said. While all gasoline sold in the U.S. must meet federal require- ments for performance, not all gas is the same.
The auto industry has a certification system for fuel. Top Tier certified gasoline includes additional detergents and fuel additives that remove engine deposits that can hurt fuel economy.
“Today’s more fuel-efficient engines need higher-quality fuel for peak performance,” said Akhtar Hussain, refined fuels expert at CHS, which markets Cenex brand fuels at more than 1,450 gas stations in 19 states. “Cenex TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline pro- vides 2.5 times the cleaning power of conventional gasoline and removes deposits for better fuel economy and reduced emissions.”
So much for those tank-filling myths. Now it’s time to fuel up and enjoy the drive.