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Is Topping Off Your Tank During a Fill-Up Actually Bad for Your Vehicle?

Is Topping Off Your Tank During a Fill-Up Actually Bad for Your Vehicle?

Have you ever felt inconvenient for having to head to the gas station to fill up every week or two? Were you ever tempted to top off your tank to save time between trips? Have you tried rounding up the price to the nearest dollar?

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

While it is tempting to top off your tank during a fill-up for the convenience it brings, the disadvantages of it totally outweigh the benefits. 

The reasons why you should refrain from topping off your gas tank

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), topping off your gas tank is not only a waste of money but also detrimental to you, your car, other people and even the environment. Here is a list of why you should put an end to this kind of practice.

  1. It can mess up your car. Most vehicles are engineered to alert you when your tank is full. And cars with this function will not allow you to add more gas to your tank because gasoline needs room to expand. Thus, your tank needs extra room for that expansion. In this case, adding more gas can either overwhelm your vehicle’s vapor collection system and flood the charcoal filter/canister that is only meant for vapor or cause serious leaks due to excess pressure in the system. 

Overfilling your gas tank can cause the liquid gas to enter the vapor canister, or charcoal-filled canister, which is designed to absorb fuel vapor that would have been released to the atmosphere, causing pollution. The vapors trapped by the charcoal-filled canister are released back into the engine through the canister purge valve and then eventually burned.

Having excessive gas in the system can reduce the life of the canister and eventually damage it. When the vapor canister gets damaged it can affect your vehicle’s performance by causing it to run poorly, and can even lead to engine damage as well. According to experts, replacing the charcoal-filled canister can cost anywhere between $200 up to $1,500 which is really expensive.

  1. It is a waste of money. Most gas stations are equipped with vapor recovery systems that will collect excess gas vapors and gasoline through the pump and feed it back into the station’s storage tanks. This feature is especially designed as a safety precaution to prevent vapors from escaping into the environment. Thus, you are paying for the excess gas that will end up being drawn back into the gas station’s tank. You are basically paying for gas that is filling up the hose and is ready to be pumped into the next vehicle.


  1. It can cause the station’s gas pump to break. Gas station’s recovery system can break once it is overwhelmed by the excess gas or gasoline it sucked back in making it out of order. This problem can cause the gas pump to act up and render no use for the next customer.
  2. Gasoline vapors are toxic. The fumes are harmful to breathe and toxic to the ozone layer. According to experts, evaporation and fumes from spillage can make the pollution problem worse since it releases toxic air pollutants such as benzene. This pollutant is not only toxic and flammable, it is also carcinogenic. According to the state of California, Benzene and Toluene are some of the several substances which make up gasoline vapors are considered toxic air contaminants. Benzene is considered one of the primary toxic air-pollutants that adds to public health risks, can affect the respiratory tract, central nervous system and immune system. Benzene exposure has been associated with higher risk of some types of cancers and different types of leukemias. While toluene is considered a central nervous system depressant, and has been associated with cardiac arrhythmias, kidney and liver damage. Toluene is also considered by the state of California as a developmental toxicant, meaning that it has the potential to affect fetal development in an undesirable way.
  3. It can cause gas spillage due to overflowing. Aside from being flammable, gasoline is also hazardous to the human body. Spilled gasoline can stain clothes and also seep into the ground which can potentially pollute the water and harm wildlife.
  4. Gas topping is prohibited in the state of Oregon. If you live in the state of Oregon or planning to go there, you should know that by asking a gas station attendant to top off your gas tank means you are asking them to break the law. As of July 1, 2009 Oregon law prohibits the topping off of gas tanks. This rule has been approved by Oregon environmental regulators that prohibits a gas station attendant from pumping more fuel into a vehicle after the pump automatically clicks off. However, there’s a leeway for a so-called “false clicks” that often takes place before a tank is filled. 

Hopefully you will think twice before ever topping off your gas tank again once you understand the dangers of this common practice. Consider this as a friendly reminder to avoid the risks of injury, car damage and potential environmental pollution. Aside from all these, when you follow the expert’s advice you are not just saving the world but also saving the money in your pocket.

List of ways to improve your mileage and save money on gas for your car

Since the price of gas is continually rising and with no estimated date in sight as to when the prices will come down, car owners need to be smart about how to save on fuel costs before reaching the gas station. Luckily, it doesn’t need much effort to implement the tips we will provide you that will help you conserve fuel. The regular retail gasoline price in the U.S averaged $2.60 per gallon in 2019 and $2.71 per gallon in 2018. 



  • Consolidate Trips


Aside from the declining economy and the increasing cost of gasoline, there are other reasons why people are taking fewer trips today. In times like this, when there are a lot of things going on in the streets, you should combine your errands into one trip to avoid repeat drives into crowded areas. If you are picking up groceries might as well consider walking or taking a bicycle ride to do a little exercise. By doing so, you are not only saving fuel, you are also strengthening your body.


  • Giving your car just the right amount of time to warm up


If you wake up in a cold morning, make sure to warm your car up for no longer than 30 seconds or up to 1 minute if you have to. If you idle the engine for more than a minute, you are not  just wasting fuel but also pumping greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Modern cars’ engines do not need a huge amount of time to warm up unlike the older models.

  • Buy Gas Early in the morning or Late in the Afternoon

It’s best to purchase gas earlier in the day since gas is cooler and more dense. As the temperature rises, gas density falls and you get less of it when you try to pump it into your tank. If you cannot do it early in the morning then pump gas late in the day, especially during warm months. 

Take note that prices usually rise between Wednesdays and Saturdays, but stay lower d uring the early days of the week. So the best days to buy gas are Sundays through Tuesdays.


  • Drive steady and Slow Down


Although driving fast can be fun, you have to know that it also increases drag which increases gas consumption. Driving smoothly and just below the speed limit uses fuel more efficiently, so you may have to return to the gas station a lot less often.


  • Be mindful of When and How you Brake


Braking more than what is needed causes your brake pads to wear out quickly and also wastes gas. Be a defensive driver and keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you when you are in heavy traffic. Subsequently, you will not have to use your brakes as often as if you were tailgating. 

Aside from that, when you keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead, you can begin braking earlier, especially when approaching a traffic light. You will improve the efficiency of your car and save gas when you do not slam the brakes at the last minute. 


  • Turn Your Engine Off


If you are waiting at the parking lot for your spouse to bring the groceries, or you are waiting at a railroad crossing for the train to cross, turn off your engine. Idling is a major waste of fuel, and adds huge amounts of air-pollutants in the atmosphere.


  • Avoid Gas Stations Near the Highway


Usually, the first gas station that you can find after a long stretch of highway will be pricey. Plan ahead or drive a little farther towards the nearest town as much as possible to find a cheaper station.


  • Don’t Wait Until your Gas Tank is Almost Empty to Fill up


If you wait until your gas tank is almost empty, you will end up paying more for whatever gas you find conveniently nearby since you will not be able to look for the best deal.


  • Be Mindful of the Wind Resistance


Keep your windows closed whenever possible since an open one increases drag and costs you gas in the long run. Aside from that, remember to unmount car racks and carriers that you do not need for that trip. You should know that luggage rack, ski rack, and bicycle rack makes your vehicle less aerodynamic.


  • Regularly Change Filters


Make sure to change your filters regularly especially if you live in a dusty area. Fresh filters help keep vehicles to run more efficiently.


  • Manage Your Speed


If your car has automatic transmission, it’s better to use cruise to manage your speed and conserve gas.


  • Drive Manual


Cars with manual transmission are more fuel-efficient compared to those with automatic transmission. If you drive a car with manual transmission, better to shift up early and shift down late to save on fuel. Always remember to shift into neutral when the car is standing still to minimize the strain on your transmission.


  • Use a Route Planner


This might seem a little over thinking, but before going somewhere it’s better to choose your route carefully. Delays due to congestion and traffic lights can always be minimized. Also, start 15 minutes before the rush hour starts, especially if you are a daily commuter. 


  • Tune the Engine


Car engines require regular tuning. A properly tuned engine consumes less fuel, so if you can’t remember the when you last had a tune-up, it may be the best time to schedule one.


  • ALL Geared Up


Cars consume more gas in lower gears when accelerating so make sure to shift to the highest possible. If the engine is not pulling, shift down instead of pressing the throttle. 


  • Keep the pressure on.


Driving with optimal tire pressure makes an enormous difference to your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Reduced tire pressure means increased contact area between the tire and the pavement. As the friction between the pavement and the rubber of the tire increases, fuel consumption also increases. Over-inflated tires will result in lower fuel consumption, but at the cost of grip and ability to disperse water on the road. See to it that the tires are inflated at the manufacturer’s recommended levels and you will be fine. Remember to check them once or twice a week, and it is ideal to check them in the morning.

Instead of waiting for the fuel cost to significantly decrease, focus on finding alternative ways to save fuel, time and money. Invest in a fuel-efficient car in your next purchase. Continue to take care of your current vehicle with the simple DIY tips we have provided. And if possible, walk or ride a bike whenever opportunity presents itself, rather than burning gas for a short ride. It is not only good for the environment, it is also good for your health. And remember not to top off your tank.