3 fuel filling myths

Let's fact check these fuel filling myths

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Here are three of the most common fuel filling myths, which you may be surprised to learn potentially have some factual basis.

Fuel filling myth 1: Pumping whole using your mobile phone = explosion

Surely this one has a spark of truth in it? After all, there are signs on the pumps warning about using a mobile phone while topping up your car. For the answer, we turned to the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA).

The AMTA website states that between 1993 and 2004, there were 243 reports of fires at petrol stations. Although mobile phones were blamed, after investigation, not one of these fires were started because of a phone. The underlying cause was static electricity, discharged from the human body.

Shell Oil, the petroleum giant, commissioned a study on mobile phones in 1991 and found that the radio frequency energy broadcast by a handset is too low to be of any danger. Experts said that the only time a phone presented any real risk was if it had a defective battery.

  • The real reason behind the fuel-filling phone ban is to prevent distraction.

Fuel filling myth 2: The dash icon shows which side your fuel filler is on

You may have seen this on social media as it became a viral sensation. There is some truth in this concept, but it depends on the car maker. Many modern cars do use the symbol on your dash to indicate which side you need to fill up on, but it’s not the position of the hose on the little icon, rather it’s the arrow next to it that points to the correct side.

Nowadays, many petrol stations have extra long hoses, so picking the right pump isn’t as critical.

  • For some models, the filler flap is on the side shown on the dash pump symbol, but it's not a universal standard. Most petrol stations have extra long fuel filler hoses that reach round to the other side.

Fuel filling myth 3: Fill up in the morning to get more for your money

This fuel filling myth suggests that topping up in the morning after the fuel has cooled down overnight will save you money. Why? Because apparently, the fuel has become more dense, so per litre, there are more octanes.

The answer to this one is tricky. The underground storage tanks may act like a big flask, insulating fuel from significant variations in temperature. Some sources suggested that the thermal qualities could even maintain the delivery temperature of the fuel.

Interestingly, places like Hawaii and Canada already have fuel temperature regulation laws. Hawaii's guidelines require retailers to sell fuel at 26°C instead of the 15°C standard. The reality is that there may be a grain of truth in this one, though whether it will actually save you money, remains to be seen.

  • It's not entirely clear whether filling up when the fuel storage tank is cooler will improve your fuel economy. Why not try yourself and see if you spot a difference?

Real-world fuel-saving tips

  • Don’t rely on myths to save you money on your fuel bill. We’ve compared financing options for green and fuel-efficient cars. These vehicles use less fuel and help cut down the number of times you have to visit a petrol station.
  • Upgrading from an old, worn-out car to a newer model means you'll have a vehicle with modern fuel-saving technologies. That could save you money. You could save even more on the purchase price of a new car by using Georgie's car buying service. Georgie says they saved buyers on average $4,616!
    Go to Georgie's website
  • Make sure you shop around for fuel. Prices fluctuate depending on the area and retailer, so use one of the petrol price comparison apps or websites to find the cheapest fuel.

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