Should You Turn off Your Car While Pumping Gas?

In some places, signs are hung to tell drivers to turn off their vehicles while pumping gas. In others, nothing of the sort is anywhere to be found. What happens if your car runs while pumping fuel into the tank? Should you turn off your car while pumping gas? We’ve got the answer to that question and a few others you might have about what not to do at the gas pump.

You should turn of your car while pumping gas

Should you turn off your car while pumping gas?
A driver fills the gas tank in an SUV | Logan Cyrus / AFP via Getty Images

Most people probably don’t take the signs very seriously. Pulling into a gas station, you might see signs telling you to turn your car off while pumping gas. Does everyone do that? Of course not, but everyone should; it isn’t just a warning. According to Family Handyman, leaving the engine running increases the chance of gas vapors igniting if they come in contact with static electricity. There is a very minimal chance of a fire occurring because of this, but it is possible. In short, if the fumes burn instead of the liquid, it could lead to an explosion.

If you don’t already know, a gas station is one of the worst places to cause an explosion or even a small fire. FH also noted that turning off all devices charging inside a vehicle and possibly even deactivating outlets is good. It isn’t guaranteed to start any problems, but reducing the risk is what’s important. It’s improbable that running the engine while fueling up will cause any damage to the vehicle. That is unless there’s a fire or explosion.

Don’t get back into your vehicle, either

A gas pump nozzle close up, Should you turn off your car while pumping gas?
A man pumps gas at a gas station | Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Remember how we mentioned static electricity would cause explosions or fire? You’re also filled with static electricity, which can cause a spark when coming in contact with the vehicle. Again, it’s doubtful to cause a severe problem, but why take the chance? No matter how hot or cold it is outside, it’s best to stay outside with the pump while fueling up. Your body’s static could mix with gasoline vapors and become catastrophic.

You shouldn’t use your cellphone while pumping gas

A man being a distracted driver by watching his phone rather than the road, which is a bad driving habit.
A person using their phone while driving | Getty Images

Not for the same reason as a human touching the car; don’t use a cell phone. While the cell phone charging could cause an electrical spark, the phone outside the vehicle probably won’t. However, it’s essential to stay alert while pumping gas. Focus on the pump, ensuring the tank doesn’t overfill, and just general safety, especially for someone with young children in the car or something else who could be prone to causing gas-related issues. A phone is the same at a gas station as it is while driving: a distraction.

Don’t overfill your vehicle’s gas tank

Long-haul truck driver fueling up, Should you turn off your car while pumping gas?
A truck driver fuels up at the Love’s Truck Stop in | George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Most gas pumps you’ll find will shut off automatically when the vehicle’s gas tank is full. However, always pay attention when it’s approaching the end. You never know when a pump will be faulty and keep the gas flowing. Not only will this cost you much more money for the overflowing gasoline, but it could also cause problems with your car as well.

According to Cars.com, overfilling your gas tank can cover the vapor intake hole with liquid gas. In turn, it can be sucked into the charcoal canister, damaging the canister and other parts of the system. The end result? Your check engine light might pop on, ending in hundreds of dollars (or more) in repairs.

Keep gasoline away from your skin and eyes

Don’t ever get gasoline on your skin and eyes if possible. In the event it does hit your skin, don’t panic. Wash the affected area with warm water and soap. Prolonged contact with liquid gasoline can cause severe irritation of the skin. If gas makes its way into your eyes, flush them out with tap water for a minimum of 15 minutes. In addition, make sure contact lenses are removed and avoid rubbing your eyes at all. Seek medical care if necessary as soon as possible, but flushing your eyes out right away is most important.

Turn off your car while pumping gas

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In conclusion, always turn off your car while pumping gas. Additionally, avoid getting back into your vehicle, using a cell phone, overfilling your gas tank, and getting gasoline on your skin or eyes. These are the best gas station practices for all drivers. Whether you’re new to driving or just moved out of state from New Jersey, you might need these helpful tips for pumping gas. Most importantly, the answer to the age-old question: “should you turn off your car while pumping gas?” is yes.

RELATED: How Does the Gas Pump ‘Know’ When Your Car’s Tank Is Full?