fuel gauge with triangle arrow
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: The Side on Which to Pump When Refueling Your Rental Car

Note: Stupid Tip of the Day is a not-so-new regular feature of The Gate which will not be featured regularly — if at all — after today…or maybe not.

“B een driving for so many years and I now feel like such an idiot!!!” was an admission of not knowing about a simple trick of the side on which to pump when refueling your rental car by George of TravelBloggerBuzz when he provided a link to the advice originally posted by Grace Alexander of Fly Gracefully.

When I first read that article, I thought to myself that it was nice of Grace to post that advice — but everyone knows that — right?!? After reading some of the comments posted at that article, it became clear that not everyone knows this little piece of information — and that includes seasoned travelers. For example, Mark posted in the Comments section, “D’oh… and I’ve be on the road for 23 years and never knew this.”

How to Know What Side on Which to Pump When Refueling Your Rental Car

Have you ever driven a rental car up to the pump at a fuel station, not knowing on which side to fill the tank of the car with gasoline? Or — as I first asked you in this article on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 — “Don’t you feel fuelish when you drive into a petrol station and you are not certain on which side you are supposed to fill the vehicle with gasoline?”

There is a nifty little triangle on the side of the little gasoline pump icon which directs you to which side of the vehicle is where you should pump your fuel. The little triangle gives you the indication as to which side the fuel door is located — for example, the left side if you are using the photograph at the top of this article — so that you know in advance how to pull up the vehicle to the pump correctly every time.

I Am Happy to Assist — But Why Ask Me?

Believe it or not, I have occasionally been stopped by other motorists at petrol stations, asking me questions ranging from how I know what side of the vehicle the door to the fuel tank is located, to one just asked of me a few weeks ago as to how to open the fuel door of a rental car.

I am not certain as to how I seem to project to others that I am somehow an “expert” on how to refuel a vehicle. All I do is zip the car up to the pump; pay in advance with a credit card; and fill its tank with gasoline. I suppose the situation is similar to when I am at a catered event and a woman asks me where the rest room for women is located — even though I am male. You might be surprised as to how often that happens.

I never did understand that logic — or lack thereof…


This simple little tip will save you a few seconds at worst — and perhaps provide some safety if you happen to be at a fuel station at night or in an area which is not the safest. I would think that pulling up to the pump only to find that the fuel door is on the opposite side of the vehicle could be a telltale sign that you are driving a rental car or that you are uncertain of your surroundings.

When you rent a car, check the fuel gauge to ensure that that triangle indicator is indeed there before driving the car away — and if it is not there, at least check on which side of the car the fuel door is located.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I could have gone the rest of my life not knowing this tip and still have saved more time than the time I spent reading this post and wondering how this post is remotely useful/entertaining/thought-provoking to anybody.

    PS. I periodically come to your blog and leave super douchey comments. I do the same to Ben Schlappig but he deserves it because he’s a man-child and doesn’t know it. I do it to Gary Leff cause he’s an insincere prick and won’t admit it. I kind of feel bad doing it to you though cause I’ve never met you before. You actually seem like a pretty decent guy. It’s just that the photo of you on the banner reminds me of Scott Templeton from The Wire and he is by far the biggest gaping a-hole in the history of modern television. You gotta understand, I might punch you if we ever met in real life. That’s how much I hate that character. Anyways, keep it up man. Cheers!

    1. You know what, David?

      I strangely find what you posted — for lack of a better term — refreshing.

      Please feel free to return and continue to post those types of comments — but be forewarned that I have been having some fun replying to similar comments…

      …and as for that photograph of me, the reason for it is simple: I want to stand behind what I write and be held accountable for it. Readers of The Gate have done an excellent job in keeping me in line.

      By the way, I searched for photographs of Scott Templeton. Yow — I think I see what you mean…


  2. The triangle tip is pretty obvious. What isn’t always obvious is how to open the gas tank door. I pulled up to the pump to fill up a rental car before returning it but was flummoxed as to how to access the gas tank. There was no way to pull open the gas tank door and I spent at least five minutes searching high-and-low for the (nonexistent) remote door opener in the interior. Finally, by sheer luck, I non-intuitively, pushed the door in and it released.

    1. Thank you for an excellent extension of the Stupid Tip of the Day, Sammy Young.

      I am uncertain as to when and how I figured out the pushing in of the fuel door to open it; but I assume that is an attempt to streamline the look and design of the vehicle both inside and out.

      Your comment reminds me of the first time I dealt with a car equipped with standard transmission in Malta. I could not figure out how to put the car in reverse — until I felt this loose ring directly underneath the bulb of the shifter and figured out that if I used a finger on each side to pull the ring up, I can then proceed to back up the car.

      I could have sold tickets to entertain people with my frustration that day…

  3. I knew the gas door tip, but nothing wrong with sharing it. Not everyone knows it, so you will have helped people out there. My Nissan has it on the driver’s side, my wife’s Mazda has it on the passenger side. Since I drive both cars often I actually use the triangle all the time as a sanity check to make sure I am going to the correct side.

  4. Common sense is only common if we SHARE it. If we don’t share it it stays a secret. I don’t think keeping secrets about where the fuel fill is located or how to open the fuel door really need to be kept secret. Fuel dispensing is not similar to “loose lips sink ships” in any way.

    I’m not the only one who has helped a motorist at a pump open a fuel door. It feels nice to do good things.

    Happy New Year Brian, keep writing about whatever you want.

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