Why Vehicle Fuel Doors Aren’t On The Same Side

With driving a car that you aren’t familiar with, you never really know which side the fuel door is on. You may even have trouble remembering which side your car fuel door is on when pulling up to the gas pump. There are no manufacturer regulations in the United States that specify where a fuel door is required. Therefore, with the fuel door location varying from vehicle to vehicle, many drivers wonder how engineers decide where to place it. 

Where the gas tank is located varies depending on the manufacturer. However, there are a variety of aspects that help narrow down a placement. According to Nissan’s Communication Manager, gas tanks are engineered to avoid areas around the exhaust, fuel lines, crumple zones, and electrical wiring. Most engineers try to place it on the widest part of the car, but accessibility can also play a significant role. In the U.S., vehicles are driven on the right side of the road while drivers sit on the left-hand side. Therefore, it’s usually easier to steer your car to line up with a gas tank with a pump on the left-hand side. Drivers in other countries such as Japan or India may prefer the fuel door to be located on the right side since they drive on the left side of the road. While fuel doors on the left-hand side may be preferred, if other aspects are built into the vehicle like large speakers, engineers will very well place it on the right-hand side instead. Having cars with gas tanks on different sides also serves a beneficial purpose! If vehicles all had gas tanks on the same side, gas stations would be crowded and packed with lines. A variety of fuel door placements allows for the smooth flow of vehicles at the gas station.

Despite driver preference, until there is a policy on the placement of fuel doors, most automakers will continue to place gas tanks on both sides. All in all, there isn’t reasoning that is universal for all manufacturers. As long as the fuel door is on the broader part of a vehicle away from hazards, engineers have free range. If you find yourself forgetting where the gas tank is, you can always refer to your dashboard. Most vehicles have a diamond-shaped arrow pointing in the direction it’s placed.