Earth Friendly: Don't forget to stop at the click

By Kate Garcia
June 20, 2013 at 1:20 a.m.

Have you ever looked over at the gas pump next to you and assured yourself, "There just has to be someone from candid camera hiding in the gas station attendant's booth. There just has to be."

There have been times where I pinch myself to be sure I'm seeing things correctly as I turn around quickly to hide the giggles from what I witness while filling up with fuel.

People do the darndest things at the gas pump in the name of saving the all-mighty dollar. There are those that shake the nozzle many times before they feel content that they have filled every cubic inch of their gas tank. I've also witnessed what I have dubbed "the shake, rattle, then roll."

A shake, rattle, then roll happens when you see a customer raise the hose high over their head while wildly shaking it to empty the last few drops of liquid gold into their tank.

After ensuring the tiniest drop is free from the hose, they begin to remove the nozzle and rattle it around, freeing any remaining droplet of fuel. Lastly, they roll on away with the fullest tank possible just short of spilling fuel as they coast away.

Truth is, this really does all kinds of damage to not only your car, but the gas station and most importantly to the environment.

Nowadays, a car's fuel tank is designed to control vapors that can escape during fueling. The same volatile organic compounds we keep referring to during ozone creation come from the fumes produced by gasoline. Some pumps have been engineered to recover those fumes keeping them from entering the atmosphere.

Now, don't shoot the messenger, but with each click past the first might be misleading. It's likely you don't get more fuel; you just get a bigger bill.

Some pumps that are outfitted with vapor recovery systems actually don't allow the pump to dispense more gas past the first click. These outfitted pumps may feed the gas back into the station's tanks to prevent the escape of harmful vapors.

Meanwhile, your car's fuel tank is designed to allow fuel fumes to expand. When you overfill the tank you run the risk of not leaving enough room for such expansion. This may cause the extra fuel to evaporate into your car's vapor collection lines. This has the possibility of causing an increase in your car's emissions.

Furthermore, you could be damaging the stations vapor collection system by trying to pump gas past the first click. This may result in the pump working improperly for the next person making the pump's automatic cut off function misfire.

If all that information isn't enough to convince you to stop at the click, then maybe this will be enough. Gas fumes are unhealthy to breathe in; plain and simple.

While it may be exceedingly funny to watch the antics that occur at a gas station, the consequences of overfilling your tank is no laughing matter.

And remember, fuel up after 5 p.m.


Kate Garcia is the programs coordinator for the city of Victoria, Environmental Services.



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