Why Do Cars Have Fuel Tank Inlets On Different Sides?
Have you ever wondered why cars have a fuel tank inlet either on the left or the right side of the car?
There is no succinct or single answer as to why fuel doors are placed on either side of the car. According to Reader’s Digest, it is deemed one of the auto world's greatest unsolved mysteries.
Most drivers don’t pay much attention to their fuel door until they are driving a new set of wheels or renting a car and they pull up to the petrol station on the wrong side.
According to Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer, engineers have the liberty to choose a side for fuel doors according to what’s feasible for packaging. Fuel tank design, location, and underbody packaging are the key factors in determining the placement and positioning of a fuel door. Apart from this, it is ultimately the automaker’s decision to place the fuel door wherever they consider feasible.
Thus auto manufacturers are free to place the fuel tank door on any side of the vehicle. Moreover, they install them according to their convenience i.e. where there is enough space and no wiring.
Some people question why we can’t have fuel doors on both sides of the car? A simple answer is the fact that there isn’t sufficient demand for dual fuel doors in the market as most people don’t pay much heed to them.
Efficiency Due to this Design Feature
You might not have guessed before cars having fuel doors on different sides is beneficial for the traffic situation in fuel pumps. It prevents car drivers from bumping into each other and reduces commotion.
Automakers’ decision to place fuel doors on different sides of cars results in some drivers drive on the left side while in others drivers go on the right. This unexpected benefit reduces the waiting time of people at petrol pumps as not all cars get stuck in the same lane for fuel.
Although this is most probably not a conscious selection by the automakers it has turned out to be an advantage from the consumer viewpoint.
Preference of Drivers
Americans prefer fuel doors on the left side of their cars, probably because this makes it easier for them to place their car’s left fender close to the fuel pump.
Pakistanis drive on the left side of the road as it is a former British Colony and thus favor a right-hand-side fuel door as it makes it feasible for them to place their car’s right fender close to the petrol pump.
Similarly, drivers in countries who drive on the left i.e. U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and India think right-side fuel tanks are feasible whereas Americans prefer left-side fuel doors in their cars.
Although there is no research to prove that driver preference is a factor in determining the placement of the fuel door. There are some official regulations regarding the positioning of fuel door i.e.
It is necessary that the filler is at the widest part of a vehicle, inboard of any crumple zones, and safe from dripping onto any hot exhaust bits or electrical wiring. However, there is no compulsion about the left or right side.
How to Locate Your Fuel Door?
To locate your fuel door, look at the little diamond-shaped arrow on the fuel gauge on your dashboard. It will indicate on which side your fuel door is. Most drivers can’t remember the placement of their car’s fuel door thus this feature comes in handy and saves them the embarrassment and hassle of getting back into their car and driving to another petrol pump.