Woman at gas station

15 Dangerous Mistakes People Make While Pumping Gas


As drivers, we often take for granted the routine task of refueling our vehicles at gas stations. However, it’s essential to remember that pumping gas can pose potential hazards if not done safely and responsibly. From the risk of fires and explosions to environmental concerns, there are several factors to consider to ensure a safe refueling experience.

Avoid Using Your Phone

Texting on phone
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One of the most crucial rules while pumping gas is to avoid using your phone. Distractions can lead to accidents, including spills or ignition of gasoline vapors. Your full attention is required during the refueling process to ensure that everything goes smoothly and safely. While it might be tempting to check your messages or browse social media, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Even a momentary lapse in focus can have serious consequences. By keeping your phone stowed away and focusing solely on the task at hand, you minimize the risk of accidents and ensure a safe refueling experience.

No Smoking

No smoking, prohibited signs in gas stations Public space, road, sidewalk, segment, clip
Image Credit: Image Credit: CHALERMPHON SRISANG/Shutterstock.

Another important safety rule is to avoid smoking near a gas pump. The combination of open flame and gasoline vapors is extremely dangerous and can lead to a catastrophic fire. It’s essential to extinguish cigarettes, cigars, or any other smoking materials before approaching the pump. Even a small spark can ignite the gasoline fumes, putting yourself and others at risk. Additionally, many gas stations have strict no-smoking policies in place to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of their customers. By adhering to these guidelines and refraining from smoking near gas pumps, you help create a safer environment for everyone.

Turn Off Your Vehicle

Car driver starting the engine Start, stop engine button.
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Before you begin pumping gas, always remember to turn off your vehicle’s engine. Running engines can generate heat and electrical sparks, increasing the risk of fire or explosion. Additionally, leaving your vehicle running unattended poses a theft risk. By turning off your engine, you not only reduce the risk of accidents but also help prevent potential theft or unauthorized use of your vehicle. It’s a simple yet essential step in ensuring a safe and hassle-free refueling experience.

Don’t Overfill the Tank

gas station pumps
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Resist the temptation to “top off” your tank after the nozzle automatically shuts off. Overfilling can cause gasoline to spill onto the ground, posing environmental hazards and increasing the risk of skin contact or inhalation of harmful vapors. Additionally, overfilling your tank can damage your vehicle’s evaporative emission system, leading to costly repairs down the line. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for fueling your vehicle and stop refueling once the nozzle shuts off automatically. By doing so, you not only protect the environment but also ensure the safety and longevity of your vehicle.

Stay Outside Your Vehicle

attractive elegant woman in black dress refuel car on gas station
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To minimize the risk of accidents while refueling, it’s crucial to remain outside your vehicle throughout the process. Entering or exiting the vehicle can generate static electricity, which can ignite gasoline vapors and lead to a fire or explosion. Additionally, staying outside the vehicle ensures your safety in the event of a spill or leak. By maintaining a safe distance from your vehicle and the gas pump, you reduce the risk of accidents and create a safer environment for everyone at the gas station.

Avoid Using Electronic Devices

The driver at the wheel of the car turns on the music from the phone
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Similar to using your phone, using other electronic devices such as tablets or music players can distract you from the task at hand. It’s essential to maintain your focus on safely refueling your vehicle to minimize the risk of accidents. While it might be tempting to listen to music or catch up on emails while waiting for your tank to fill, it’s crucial to prioritize safety above all else. By keeping your attention on the refueling process, you reduce the risk of accidents and ensure a safe and efficient refueling experience.

Don’t Tamper with Equipment

Gas pump at an American gas station with a black nozzle and colorful fuel option buttons oil petrol gasoline
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Avoid tampering with gas pump nozzles or equipment, including trying to override safety features or fix malfunctioning equipment yourself. Gas pump nozzles are designed to shut off automatically when your tank is full to prevent overfilling and spills. Attempting to override these safety features can lead to accidents and injuries. If you encounter any issues with the gas pump or nozzle, it’s essential to notify gas station staff immediately. They are trained to handle such situations and can assist you in resolving the problem safely and efficiently.

Keep Gasoline Containers Outside

An image of two red plastic gas canisters.
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If you’re refueling a portable container, it’s crucial to never leave it inside your vehicle while refueling. Gasoline fumes can accumulate inside the vehicle, creating a potentially explosive atmosphere. Always place containers on the ground, a safe distance away from the pump, before refueling. Additionally, it’s essential to follow proper handling and storage procedures for gasoline containers to prevent spills and accidents. By keeping gasoline containers outside your vehicle and following safety guidelines, you minimize the risk of accidents and ensure a safe refueling experience.

Minimize Static Electricity

Car Handle
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To minimize the risk of static electricity igniting gasoline vapors, it’s important to discharge any built-up static electricity from your body before grasping the gas pump nozzle. You can do this by touching a metal part of your vehicle before refueling. Static electricity can build up on your body, especially in dry or cold weather conditions, and can ignite gasoline vapors when you touch the nozzle. By taking this simple precaution, you reduce the risk of accidents and ensure a safe refueling experience.

Don’t Re-enter the Vehicle

young handsome man sitting in his car showing dislike sign
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Once you’ve started pumping gas, refrain from re-entering your vehicle until the process is complete. Re-entering the vehicle can generate static discharge, which can ignite gasoline vapors and lead to a fire or explosion. Additionally, staying outside the vehicle ensures your safety in case of an emergency, such as a spill or leak. By remaining outside the vehicle until the refueling process is complete, you minimize the risk of accidents and ensure a safe refueling experience.

Do Use Caution in Extreme Weather

Water in Car
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Exercise caution when pumping gas in extreme weather conditions, such as during heavy rain, snow, or high winds. These conditions can increase the risk of accidents, as slippery surfaces or reduced visibility may make handling the pump more challenging. Take extra care and attention during adverse weather conditions to ensure the safety of yourself and others at the gas station.

Do Dispose of Used Paper Towels Properly

Paper Towel
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If you use paper towels to clean up any spills or drips while refueling, it’s essential to dispose of them properly in designated trash bins. Leaving used paper towels lying around can create a fire hazard if they come into contact with gasoline. By disposing of them responsibly, you help maintain a safe environment at the gas station for everyone.

Do Be Mindful of Fueling Speed

Woman at gas station
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When refueling a container or a vehicle with a small tank opening, avoid pumping gas at full speed. Pumping too quickly can cause splashing or overflowing, leading to spills and potential hazards. Adjust the fueling speed accordingly to ensure a smooth and safe refueling process without any unnecessary risks.

Do Check for Leaks After Fueling

Car Leak
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After completing the refueling process, take a moment to inspect the area around the fuel tank for any signs of leaks or spills. If you notice any, notify gas station staff immediately and refrain from starting your vehicle until the issue is resolved. Promptly addressing any leaks or spills can help prevent accidents and ensure the safety of everyone at the gas station.

Do Stay Prepared for Emergencies

Car Extinguisher
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Familiarize yourself with the location of fire extinguishers and emergency shut-off switches at the gas station. In the event of an emergency, knowing how to access these resources can help mitigate potential risks and ensure a swift response to any accidents or incidents. By staying prepared and aware of emergency procedures, you can help maintain a safe environment for yourself and others while pumping gas.

Author: Madison Cates

Title: Managing Editor


Research journalist, Freelance writer, Managing editor

  • Expertise: automotive content, trending topics.
  • Education: LeTourneau University, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
  • Over 400 articles and short news pieces published across the web.

Experience: Madison Cates is a journalist located in the great state of Texas. She began writing over eight years ago. Her first major research piece was published by the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household of eight brothers and a dad who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career into the automotive industry. There, she found her passion. Her experience paved the way for her to work with multiple large corporations in automotive news and trending topics. Now, she now finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.

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