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How and When to Pump Gas - Do These Tips Really Work?

Updated on October 20, 2017

Whether gas prices are pressured skyward to an unprecedented $10 per gallon as a result of measurable fundamental economic factors, intentional oil company price manipulation, political leverage, or predictable geopolitical events such as unrest in fragile strategic locations around the world, or, miraculously recede on a downward spiral toward $2, we all would like to get the most gas for our hard earned money regardless of future direction. An even exchange of $1 worth of fuel for $1 paid at the register sounds fair and reasonable don't you think? Well, according to an acquaintance of mine who is an expert in the field of gas and oil exploration and refining, sometimes we do indeed receive the exact dollar for dollar ratio and unfortunately, at other times we don't. The amount of fuel you receive can indeed depend upon a few variables which we may not even be aware of as we remove the nozzle from the cup, activate the pump, and watch the fuel flow freely into the tank.

I recently met with this friend who is an expert in the industry, and during our casual conversation, was pleased to be on the receiving end of potentially invaluable advice regarding gas stations and more specifically, how the average pump facility is operated, maintained, and refueled. We discussed several aspects before the conversation evolved into a question and answer period which turned out to be very enlightening for me. I'm certainly not an expert in respect to this complex subject as a result of one brief initial meeting with my acquaintance, but I did gain a more in depth understanding of this fossil fuel delivery industry including a bullet point presentation pertaining to how moderate temperature changes, or the simple process of maintaining adequate fuel supply at the station can have a negative impact not only on your budget, but also your vehicle regardless of make, model, or sophistication of mechanics.

After additional online research to collect first hand data, some of which supported the following assertions and conflicting entries that challenged the veracity of similar concepts, I decided to share the tips here in an effort to help the average consumer become aware first, and secondarily, get the most "Bang" for the buck when pumping gas. Additionally, this is an exercise designed to solicit and hopefully attain additional opinions and insightful input from your personal experiences.

  • You may already be familiar with some or all of the tips listed below, if not, I hope you find them as interesting and potentially helpful as I did. The following entry contains one individuals opinions based upon her apparent general knowledge of the industry. if this subject has piqued your interest or you have any conflicting information regarding the following suggestions, it would be prudent to conduct your own research and gain additional perspectives.

Are You Getting A Mix Of Liquid Fuel & Vapors When You Fill Your Gas Tank?
Are You Getting A Mix Of Liquid Fuel & Vapors When You Fill Your Gas Tank?


Typically, our first instinct at the pump is to get in and out as quickly as possible, especially if we are on our way to work or any other function that dictates a "Time is of the Essence" situation. The first suggestion offered by my friend was to slow down and pump your gas using slight to moderate pressure on the handle verses a "Full Throttle" ninja grip, and try not to use the small metal or plastic locking device that snaps into place which instantaneously switches operation from manual to automatic fueling. All these traditional steps we are accustomed to as a result of habit, time constraints, or any number of other factors, according to some experts, can indeed have a considerable negative impact on the amount of gas that actually makes it into your tank.

As previously mentioned, according the expert I talked to, apparently your vehicle cannot recognize the difference between liquid and air, and when you pump at maximum velocity (Handle fully depressed), the air pressure is increased dramatically to accommodate and produce faster flow, thereby allowing a potentially higher ratio or mix of vapors verses fuel to enter the vehicles gas tank. Bottom line, you may not be getting a full gallon of gas for the price paid.

  • Experiment, try slowing down, ease up on the pump "Throttle", and even though it might be difficult to measure or visually recognize the volume difference when looking at the fuel gauge on your dashboard, the odds of getting more liquid gas into your tank verses vapors or air are much more favorable.


Always try to plan your trip to the gas station in the early morning or evening hours, especially in spring and summer months if you live in a warm climate such as California, Arizona etc. Typically, as the day progresses from morning to afternoon, the temperature tends to rise which may lead to heat buildup in the underground fuel holding tank resulting in possible gas evaporation. At first glance, it doesn't seem like much of an issue however, this unintended situation can add up to a scenario where less fuel and considerably more vapors or air enter your vehicles gas tank, thereby creating less of a bargain for you, the paying consumer. Apparently, the sensors on your vehicle cannot detect the difference between liquid and vapor content, so essentially, you could be getting a .99 to $1.00 ratio of gas verses air or even less depending upon the precise circumstances.

  • Early mornings or evenings when the temperature is at its lowest point and the sun is not an intense heating source for the holding tank usually equates to a denser fuel content at the station resulting in more gas and less air funneled via the pump into your vehicle.


If a holding tank at the gas station is not meticulously maintained, a considerable amount of dirt, residue, and dust can enter and eventually settle at the bottom. How does this affect you and your vehicle? Well, it doesn't take a Harvard Grad to understand the simple fact that dirt in your gas tank equals potential maintenance expenses in the future. When the large holding receptacle at a gas station is being filled, and we all witness this activity taking place from time to time, the physical pressure exerted from gas flowing into the massive container can potentially stir up any existing dirt or sediment which had previously commingled with the fuel and then settled at the bottom of the tank.

What does this mean? When small to microscopic residue particles are dispersed into the entire holding tank and spread out from top to bottom, the odds of dislodged floating dirt granules entering your vehicles gas tank are much higher, and in the long run, that can only be hazardous to your vehicles general health. If proper preventative maintenance is not exercised and enough dirt enters the vehicles gas tank, it may lead to minor or possibly even serious problems in the future, depending of course on the specific circumstances. Just something to think about and consider when visiting your local station.

  • If you stop at your local station and notice the underground holding tank being filled, and if time is not of the essence, it might be in your best interest to leave and return at a later date to ensure any and all residue that may have been stirred up as a result, has ample time to once again settle out at the bottom of the tank.

If you have additional information you would like to share or a personal experience related to any of the above tips, please feel free to leave a detailed comment below -

Thanks in advance for your participation -


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