Why Do Cars Have Their Fuel Tanks On Different Sides?

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When you enter a fuel station to top up your fuel, chances are you notice that different cars are refueling from different sides as a result of the location of their fuel door.

There are a lot of theories as to why some cars favour their tanks on the right side and others on the left side. Some believe that European manufacturers keep their fuel tanks on the right side, while Asian manufacturers favour the left side. You however shouldn’t expect a succinct answer.

Experts believe that engineers are free to place fuel doors on the side of the car that offers the easiest packaging. And while one on each side might seem as the most convenient to do, we probably won’t see dual fuel doors anytime soon as there is no demand or room for such yet.

Furthermore, the placement of the fuel door is mainly a factor of fuel tank design, location, and underbody packaging.

North Americans prefer fuel doors on the left side of their cars, probably because it makes it easier for them to place their car’s left fender close to the fuel pump. That perhaps is the reason why drivers in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India, and other countries who drive on the left side of the road favour a right-hand-side fuel door.

Nothing to confirm that driver preference is a factor as there are regulations about where the fuel door should be positioned, but these don’t specify the right or left side of the car.

There is however a suggestion about “equilibrium”, and that if all cars had fuel doors on the same side, 50 per cent of the fuel pumps in a fuel station would be unused, and people spend even more time waiting in line to get fuel.

If you however have trouble remembering what side your fuel door is, you can simply have a look at the little diamond-shaped arrow on the fuel gauge on your dashboard—it points to the side of the car where the fuel door is.

Take a look at it before pulling at a fuel station to avoid the embarrassment of having to get back into your car and drive to another pump.



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