Can You Pump Gas With the Car On? (Explained)

Have you ever wondered – Can You Pump Gas With the Car On? Have you had conflicting opinions and now want to be on the right page?

Relax, we’ve got you covered on these questions and more.

Pumping gas is a very easy task, but you could create a disaster if you don’t know what to do, and the things to avoid. The complexity of a vehicle and how dangerous it could be, are often taken for granted. However, to avoid the severe risk of a passenger injury and accident, everything must be in its correct position and running effectively.

This article looks at how flammable gasoline is, the dangers of pumping gas with the car running, how to pump gas, and some frequently asked questions on this issue.

Let’s begin!

Can I Fuel My Car With Engine Running?

Yes, you can pump gasoline into your vehicle while running. This does not imply that it is the best thing to do. There are chances of a fire outbreak if you keep pumping gas into your car with a running engine.

The gas vapors tend to ignite static electricity when the engine is running. Therefore, putting off your car before refueling is the safest, and the best thing to do. This will help you avoid static electricity, the illumination of your check engine light, or fire from occurring.

Liquid cannot burn, but fumes can. This produces fire danger. There is also an explosion risk. Do not forget to switch off the vehicle, and let it stay off while refueling because of the rule.

Also, you should disconnect any charging devices. After refueling, you can reconnect them. Other safety measures, such as no smoking or vaping, should be considered while refueling.

Avoid using a mobile phone as well. Leave your mobile device in the vehicle, because there could be a buildup of static electricity if you are on your phone.

How Flammable Is Gasoline?

Before discussing proper safety measures, let’s review gasoline’s chemical properties and why it is so volatile.

The ignition of gasoline is hard when it is in a liquid state, it needs about 247°C to ignite, without a catalyst.

Meanwhile, the flashpoint remains very important; this is the point where the liquid discharges enough vapors that ignite in the atmosphere. For example, the flashpoint of gasoline is -23°C, which means that no matter how cold the air is, one spark or a match can ignite the gasoline without stress.

Always, the gasoline is effectively emitting highly flammable vapors that have more weight than air. Therefore, they easily stick to any open canister, especially in gas stations. Also, they are not visible and can travel far from their main source.

Meanwhile, the flashpoint of diesel is 55°C, making it safer. However, on a sunny day, ignition is still possible.

Also Read: Car Turns Off (Causes & Solutions)

Why Is Pumping Gas With The Car On Dangerous?

At a gas station, different clear signs and signals will advise you to switch off your engine and avoid all forms of flame, including smoking.

Open flame sources are very risky and have tendencies to ignite gasoline. When you open your tank and insert the nozzle, the gasoline escapes and fills the air, as you fill the tank.

Leaving your vehicle to run during refueling is not as hazardous as an open flame, but it has its risks, because hundreds and thousands of vehicles go through the fuel station each day, and a single car is capable of causing a fire outbreak.

A fire outbreak could also be caused, by the buildup and discharge of static electricity on your clothes close to your fuel tank. Regardless of how little the risks could be, always switch off your vehicle.

The conclusion is that allowing your car to run in a gas station is hazardous and illegal in every part of the world. It may not create any accidents, but you may likely create problems for yourself.

You may ask, what if I am refueling at home? Leaving your engine on is still not advisable, though the risk may be low. During refueling, I can only leave the vehicle running if my starter is faulty because I could get stranded if I switch off the engine.

The Dangers of Pumping Gas With the Car Running


Gas fuel is highly flammable, and tends to catch fire quickly. Because most vehicles run on gas, they tend to go ablaze if extra care is not taken.

Gas Poisoning

Lots of dangerous vapors could be released into the air if your vehicle is running while pumping gas. Typically, these vehicles have a vapor recovery system, that prevents these dangerous gases from getting into the atmosphere.

The hazard of dangerous vapors is widely known; they are responsible for contaminating the air we breathe and clogging it. Also, they give rise to the global warming index and destroy the ozone layer. This is why getting rid of nasty smells and a wavering gas fume is important, even if the vehicle is nicely parked in the garage.

Losing Money

In this topic, losing money is not exactly a life-threatening situation. But there is a need to discuss it anyway, because there is nothing better than saving money and staying safe.

We had earlier talked about the vapor recovery systems. But I failed to mention that if the engine runs while filling the tank, the system could get damaged. It can be repaired, though, but it will cost you some money. The amount may be up to $1500.

Is It Illegal to Pump Gas While Your Car Is Running?

The United States Law, particularly declares that no vehicle should be on during refueling. I quote: “No internal combustion engine fuel tank shall be refilled with a flammable liquid while the engine is running.” The UK also has similar laws, as well as other countries around the world.

The question now is, why do most people still neglect this law? This depends on the situation. For instance, Some UAE citizens refuel their vehicles while the engine is on, despite the law. They continue in this practice due to the severe heat; while refueling, the air conditioner is turned on to reduce the heat in the vehicle.

How to Pump Gas

These detailed guidelines will assist teenagers, new drivers, and people that have difficulty pumping their gas, to learn and do it accordingly. Although the process is quite simple, it is good to know the basics.

  • Do not forget the side of your vehicle that carries the gas cap. You may see a triangle beside the gasoline station symbol on your vehicle’s dashboard, indicating the gasoline cap area.
  • Drive slowly into the fuel station. Immediately you pass the nozzle point, your wheels should be straight, watch the side mirror or over your shoulder to know the correct point you should park.
  • Switch off your engine. If your car has a knob for unlocking the gas lid, press it.
  • Get the lid opened to access the cap. On the lid’s side, some information can be found, including the type of fuel for your car.
  • Open the gasoline cap. It possesses two cuts that enable you to hang it from the fuel lid.
  • Pay attention to the gas terminal. Decide the kind of fuel you want, then wear a pair of gloves.
  • Clench and grip the lever, and this will enable the fuel flow. Most gasoline nozzles come with a latch, that helps take pressure away from your hands.
  • Look at the gasoline meter. It will indicate the quantity of fuel pumped, and the amount.
  • If you have plans to stop the pump early, release the lever, and you can allow the fuel to drip in slowly until you get to your desired amount or quantity.
  • To complete refueling, you will have to allow the nozzle to stop automatically. Do not add extra fuel at this point.
  • Return the nozzle to its position. Once the nozzle is returned, it cannot be used till the bill is sorted.
  • Place back your gas cap, and turn it till you notice a click sound. Shut the lid, take off the gloves and settle the bills.

Can You Pump Gas With the Car On?

Can Your Car Explode if You Leave It on While Pumping Gas?

An explosion due to fueling and running your vehicle is quite unlikely. However, we have decided to stay safe, and take the necessary precautions. While the gas pump is in use, necessary measures to protect ourselves and the people around us should be observed.

Although an explosion remains unlikely, it is not ruled out. It could still be possible, just that it could be extremely rare.

Because gasoline is very flammable, the only thing the automobile needs for an explosion is just a spark. This rarely occurs.

Also Read: Car Alarm Keeps Going Off (Causes & Solutions)

Frequently Asked Questions – Can You Pump Gas With the Car On?

How to put gas in a car without a funnel?

You could use a one or two-liter plastic bottle if there is no funnel within reach and you want to refuel. First, wash the bottle to get rid of the soda, and shake the water out. Then, use a knife and cut the bottle in a diagonal pattern, towards the back.
Insert it into the gas tank, which will serve as a substitute funnel, and ensure you place it properly and it’s pressing the safety latch, to prevent the release of fumes into the air.

How do you know how much gas to put in your car?

The actual quantity of gasoline your car can carry may be a bit difficult to confirm because you will have to consider the existing fuel in the tank, and the difference between fuel tank capacity and the total fuel line capacity.
Nevertheless, if you decide to pump at a fuel station, you should have no worries. The nozzle can detect when the fuel tank is filled and stops automatically. If you are refueling at home, you will calculate the quantity of fuel in your tank, and subtract it from the total tank capacity. This will help you know the amount of fuel to put in your tank.

Is it illegal to pump gas while your car is running?

It is illegal to pump gas while the vehicle is running in all fifty states. Although the safety threats may be small, the law has to be obeyed, so ensure to switch your vehicle off before pumping gas.

Should you touch your car before pumping gas?

Touching your vehicle before refueling is an excellent idea; it helps discharge all the accumulated static electricity on your cloth or body. However, this is done when shutting your door and unlocking the gas tank lid. Therefore, there is no need to worry.

Can I be on my phone while pumping gas?

The rules and regulations stipulated by the gasoline station will determine this. Regarding safety risks, a mobile phone has virtually no opportunity to induce fire.

Can you walk away from your car while pumping gas?

A running gasoline nozzle should never be left unattended, this could be dangerous. The fuel will keep flowing until the fuel tank is filled when the latch is engaged. However, when it slips and falls, if the falling impact fails to release the latch, the fuel will be spread around uncontrollably till it is shut manually.

What happens if you drive off with the gas pump?

When the fuel hose is pulled out, the consequences could be severe. Recently manufactured systems have an inbuilt safety latch, that disconnects the hose to avoid fire outbreaks or further damage. Still, in an old system, a massive outbreak could occur due to a spark caused by jerking on the metal terminal.
It is best to constantly check out for a fuel line through your mirror, before driving out of the fuel station.

Is it better to pump gas at night?

When the temperature goes low, gasoline gets denser, and the difference in the gas quantity gained will only be marginal. The rule applies to butane, propane, and other volatile gasses.

Conclusion – Can You Pump Gas With the Car On?

At this point, you now understand why your vehicle should be off while refueling; I hope your engine will be off, whenever you are pumping gas. Although the risk level is low, the law is clearly stated and should be followed accordingly, to avoid unnecessary penalties.

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