Locking the Gas Pump Trigger

December 21, 2009 at 12:01 am 15 comments

UPDATE: It is illegal in some places to leave the gas pump while filling your tank. After doing some further research, it appears this is done for two reasons. 1. To prevent you from getting back in your vehicle, which can cause a static buildup that could cause a spark (and fire) when you touch the pump handle again. 2. To ensure you are nearby if the auto-stop fails and fuel begins to spill. So, even if your station provides a locking mechanism, the safest option is to hold the handle while filling.

If you’re like me then you like to lock the fuel pump trigger so you can clean all the garbage out of your car while the tank is filling.

Some gas stations remove the device that locks the trigger so you can’t walk away from the pump while it’s filling. But, there is a secret to locking the trigger without the built-in mechanism: stick your gas cap under the trigger.

That’s it. Now you can do other things while your tank is filling, like tidy your trunk or complain about gas prices with some sucker who is attached to their pump.

Gas Pump Cap Hack

Keep an eye on your pump and use this tip at your own risk.

Entry filed under: Automotive, Be Efficient, Hacks, ProTips. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nadeem Dhalla  |  December 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Chad…This is very dangerous. The fuel cap unlike the human hand is not ‘grounded’ – – when we will the fuel, our feet are touching the ground and release any electricity.

    On rare occasions when the tank becomes full and snaps, this can release an electrical current,, coupled with oxygen from the air and the fuel vapours… there are several HUNDERED reported cases of this starting fires…..

    This is the principlal why they always say that you need to fuel the jerry cans on the floor vs. the flatbed of the truck.

    Check out this video — the women’s rubbing of the sweater causes her to become ungrounded and when she touches the nozzel – – BOOM…

      • 3. Chad  |  December 24, 2009 at 10:05 pm

        Yes, getting back in your car is definitely not a good idea either.

        I do find it interesting that all the gas stations in Canada have removed the trigger lock and I’ve only seen a couple gas stations in the United States that have removed it. Any ideas why some stations have it and some remove it?

    • 4. Elton Sipes  |  January 5, 2022 at 12:42 am

      “several HUNDERED”, Really? can you list 10 percent of them with references so everyone can learn about the details of each case. Or could it possibly be that you are exaggerating or imagining so many cases.
      As for the fuel cap or human hand not being grounded. Well I do not remember ever filling up my tank with no shoes or socks on, so i have never been grounded either. Now my wife has filled up her truck several times while being grounded when she left her work place with her ankle grounding straps still on and grounded to her ESD safe work shoes.
      Using the gas cap is a good idea. Is is plastic and will have no effect at all on the possibility of any danger, unless the reverse pressure valve inside the nozzle fails.
      You also refer to a video of “women’s rubbing of the sweater causes her to become ungrounded” that makes no sense at all. Rubbing a sweater has nothing to do with being grounded at all. Sounds like you should study up on ESD and static electricity and its effects. If someone rubs a sweater then it can charge their body with static electricity depending on sweater material it’s made of. If they are not grounded then touching a conductive object such as a metal vehicle body can cause a electric spark to be emitted as the charge is bled off into the vehicle’s body. Yes the spark would be enough to ignite gas fumes. Gas pump nozzles are made mostly of non conductive plastic except for the metal end or spout pipe that goes in the vehicle fill tube. Most people will never be touching the metal end as it is going to be wet with gas. But if they did have a static charge in their body, and if they do touch the metal spout or pipe on the end of the nozzle, then there is a very good chance to ignite any lingering gas fumes, and kablooy, very bad incident. This is the actual reasoning that there are warning against getting back in your vehicle before you are done pumping gas. The action of getting into your vehicle will be rubbing against or touching fabrics that may have the ability to charge your body with static electric charge. When you initially get out of the vehicle there are a few things people do that will discharge their body of any static buildup, standing a few moments to get their card out of their wallet or purse, bumping or touching metal body of the vehicle or door when they close it, the charge can travel through some clothing or gloves with out feeling it: touching the gas pump: and touching the vehicle gas cap door cover. These actions will bleed off any built up static charge in a few seconds and you wont even know it. Humidity plays a huge factor in building up a static charge, low humidity in colder winter months allows the charge to build up quicker and with a stronger charge. However the higher humidity in warmer seasons prevents any significant charge to build up at all.
      Filling gas jugs while they are in a vehicle or while they are sitting on the ground makes no difference at all in the possibility of building up a static charge. Their location where they are at during filling has nothing to do with any danger. The reason filling them while they are in a vehicle is dangerous is because: 1. Overfilling them spills gas inside your vehicle, vehicle trunk, or truck bed and no one around a gas station likes a fuel spill, 2. Because you are walking around moving and rubbing you clothes on plastic bumper, carpet inside trunk, or truck be liner, which may possibly build up some static body charge. Putting the jugs on the ground will help to get any static discharged off into the ground. Same reasoning go with playing with your cell phone while pumping gas. The cell phone itself emits ultra high frequency radio waves but that presents no danger at all at a gas pump. However it runs on a battery and a lot of electrical circuits inside, if you were to drop it and it busts into pieces that could ignite a fire if the ground is wet with gas. Also using a cell phone means you are fiddling with something and building up a static charge in your body. So when you are filling up your vehicle, stand next to the pump and nozzle and don’t move around or dance. And put one hand on the side of your vehicle so any static charge your body may accumulate are being dissipated.

  • 5. Warm Your Car Up Faster « Broken Secrets  |  February 24, 2010 at 1:09 am

    […] Locking the Gas Pump Trigger […]

  • 6. Andrea  |  April 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    For the love of God do not do this. I am a manager at a gas station and every time I am outside cleaning gas on the ground I wish I could quit. First of all, it gets on everything and never comes out. Second, it is horrible for the environment. Third, I really don’t want to clean your mess. Is it my job to take care of my store? Yes. Is it my job to clean up gasoline after people who feel the need to multitask at the pump? NO! Just stand there for the whole two minutes it takes to pump your gas.

  • 7. Elbyron  |  May 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Sorry Andrea, as a sufferer of Canadian winters, I have to disagree. Standing there for the whole two minutes in -30°C with the wind blowing snow in your face while your hand freezes to the pump handle… I’d rather get in the car and take my chances. If you’re cleaning gas on the ground, the auto shut-off must be broken in your pumps. I’ve been driving for 12 years, and never once has the shut-off failed on me, and thus I have never caused a spillover. If your machine fails, you can clean up the mess!

    Chad: only a few of the stations in Edmonton have removed the lock, and I’ve learned to avoid those. Maybe it’s more common in other cities though.

    • 8. Road Runner  |  January 7, 2014 at 6:00 am

      Elbyron I would switch your pump off immediately. Here in Australia it is illegal to have the auto shut off still in place as it is to use a trick to lock the gun trigger. I am over people flaunting their own bravado and breaking the law and thus endangering the lives of EVERYONE at a Fuel Station. Once in a while an auto shut off WILL NOT WORK!! It is fact….just coz it didn’t happen to you today doesn’t mean it WONT happen….

  • […] Locking the gas pump trigger (be careful) […]

  • 10. Chris  |  November 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Give me a break. I used to work at a gas station and smoke at the pumps regularly. I am a mechanic now and I watch another mechanic throw his still lit cigarette butts into a 5 gallon bucket of gas that has been drained from a vehicle. contrary to Hollywood’s myth gas is not very inflammable in the liquid state. I am HIGHLY doubtful of static electricity causing an explosion even if vapors are present in open air. Give me a break, that is one mean static spark!

    • 11. It will be fine until it's not.  |  September 22, 2015 at 8:10 am

      You’re a moron.

  • 12. Joe  |  August 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I made the mistake of jamming a pump “on” that had it’s thingy removed. When I got back to the pump it said I had pumped 18 gallons of fuel in my 16 gal tank. I stopped it and removed the nozzle and immediately gallons of gas flowed back out of my car.

    And then I remembered that gas is a little ‘rubbery’ and can be compressed, too!

  • 13. Jene  |  September 7, 2013 at 12:58 am

    I used a pump that automatically locks itself “on” or open. Since I needed the pump to stop at a certain $ amount, the pump would not stop when I let go of the handle or trigger, and in my panic pulled out the nozzle and then I was soaked with gasoline all over me and my clothes and shoes and I’m having trouble washing off the gasoline from them and my person – I still smell the fumes. Are pumps supposed to automatically go into the “trigger locked” position without my choosing to do so? Or is this entirely my fault? I am accustomed to pumps that I have to deliberately place it in the lock position.

  • 14. dumbell  |  February 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Every truckstop has trigger locks and the low I.Q. fuel jockey fuels several trucks at a time….so don’t tell me!

  • 15. Nome DePlume  |  February 3, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Diesels is MUCH less flammable than gasoline, due (I believe) to it’s higher “vapor pressure.”

    I have read, repeatedly, that you can drop a lit match into diesel fuel, and it will GO OUT.

    I do NOT believe the same can be said for gasoline.

    Why don’t you try it and get back to us (if you survive) before saying things like this (which could get people KILLED):

    “Every truckstop has trigger locks and the low I.Q. fuel jockey fuels several trucks at a time….so don’t tell me!”


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