What happens if you refuel with the engine running
The vast majority of petrol stations have information boards that remind drivers that filling up with the engine running is prohibited. Let us find out which cars are most at risk.
The vast majority of gas stations have information boards that remind drivers that it is forbidden to refuel cars with the engine running. Let us find out how justified this ban is and which cars are in the highest risk category.
It all depends on the specific refueling conditions and the technical condition and type of vehicle. More often than not, ignition occurs if gasoline vapors coming out of the car tank while filling up the fuel are ignited by a spark.
But what can provoke such a spark? Usually, the culprit is the muffler, which for various reasons receives unburned fuel. It is deposited in the exhaust system in the form of soot, where it burns down and flies out from the pipes or slots (if the muffler is damaged) in the form of sparks.
Correspondingly, the risk group includes cars with problems with fuel injection system (for injector engines), clogged or leaking injectors, high or low pressure in the fuel rail due to a faulty electro-benzo pump or fuel pressure regulator.
Over-enriched mixture may also be caused by incorrectly working sensors (air mass flow rate, oxygen sensor). As a result, we have afterburning of fuel in the exhaust duct, its pollution with combustion products and as a consequence – the risk of sparks.
Another common cause of underbody sparks is a defective or removed catalytic converter (catalyst). It happens that over a long service life, as well as from low-quality fuel, the catalytic converter becomes clogged and stops working properly. In absolutely neglected cases, it may, figuratively speaking, get sintered or “crumble”. In the first case, if the node overheats strongly, it is impossible to exclude that it may set on fire, for example, a freshly applied mastic on the underbody.
It is clear that such a situation at the gas station is fraught with high risks. It is not less dangerous to “saw out” a catalyst from the system and to replace it with so called flame arrestor (a device for damping temperature of exhaust gases and decrease of their resonance), which is not of the highest reliability.
In addition, the well-known disadvantage of plamegassitel, installed instead of a catalyst – is provoking an increased load on the components of the silencer (resonators, back banks, pipes muffler ). These elements are exposed to excessive heat, fail faster and are also a potential fire hazard.
In addition to the increased risk of exploding gasoline vapor, refueling with a running motor and fraught with these, it would seem not too obvious consequences. If the car is not new, dirt accumulates in the fuel tank during operation. When fuel starts to enter the tank and the engine is running, the gasoline pump actively “draws” new gasoline together with sediment, the fuel filter and the whole fuel system gets clogged much faster.
In addition, errors in the electronic control unit are not excluded. After all, since you open the fuel cap when the engine is running, you “remove” the vacuum from the tank in this way. So on some models on the dashboard may be displayed so unloved by all motorists inscription Check Engine, which can not always “remove” themselves and have to go to the service. On “older generation” cars, failures of a fuel gauge are not excluded. The arrow may either not change the position at all, or “hang up” in any area of the sensor.
Do not forget that the started car at the gas station is a bait for thieves, who can wait until you go to pay for the gas station to take possession of your car or commit theft from the cabin.
And finally, if your car does catch fire while you were refueling with the engine running, it will be extremely difficult to file an insurance claim. For in fact you have violated paragraph 451 of the “Fire Safety Rules in the Russian Federation”, which states that “it is prohibited to refuel vehicles with engines running at filling stations”.
Why not to refuel your car with the engine running
Filling up our car or motorcycle with fuel is something we do on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis. This begs the question: is it okay to fill up your car with the engine running? And when we enter any gas station, we see an ad from which everyone is reminded to turn off the engine at the gas station while pouring fuel into the tank.
Although fuel prices are rising and alternative fuels are still a distant dream for the broader masses, we all wait in lines and spend a lot to fill up. Filling up is a chore for anyone who owns a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.
In between all of this, we’ve all encountered the warning “don’t fill up when the engine is running.”
What happens if you fill up your car while the engine is running
The reason why it is recommended that you don’t fill up your fuel while the engine is running is because of “static electricity.” Static electricity is generated when unbalanced electrical charges remain inside or on the surface of a conductive material.
This can lead to the formation of sparks. Since fuel vapors are in excess at the fueling station and near the vehicle (when fueling), ignition can occur.
For the same reason, it is not recommended to use cell phones when refueling. Static charges are generated when making a call.
Phone chargers and lighters in the passenger compartment can also lead to risks when used while refueling. If such little things are dangerous, imagine the danger caused by a car’s engine not being turned off.
In gasoline engines, combustion occurs because the spark plug in the engine ignites the fuel-air mixture. In diesel engines, combustion occurs by spraying fuel into high-temperature compressed air.
Read also: How to fight bird droppings on your car and how to remove them from the surface of the car
Another fact to know is that gasoline fuel burns faster than diesel fuel. Refueling with gasoline while the vehicle’s engine is running poses a greater threat than refueling a vehicle that runs on diesel.
Starting a vehicle
Starting a car engine while refueling is even more dangerous than leaving the car running while refueling. This is because the engine uses more fuel and electricity to start the car quickly. The starter will also be running, creating an extra field of charge. Now you know why it is recommended that you don’t leave your car idling while refueling!
Today’s cars are advanced in terms of technology and safety. The basic design of cars has seen many changes recently. Consequently, there is very little chance of risks in keeping the engine running while refueling. But you shouldn’t put your trust in that.
There are instances of cars catching fire while refueling with the engine running. And this has happened not only to old Soviet cars, as some people claim.
To give one example:
Joey Kramer, drummer for the rock band Aerosmith, was badly burned when his Ferrari caught fire while filling up at a gas station in Boston. According to a July 18, 1998 Boston Globe article:
“Investigators said the car was running while filling the gas tank, which is illegal and increases the likelihood of a fire.”
Note the fact that this tragedy occurred with a very expensive brand of car, superior in many features to most other cars.
The requirement to shut off the engine when refueling is a legal requirement, and it is not based on relics of the past, but on a potential threat that is still present today. A medium-sized gas station may have 160,000 liters of gasoline stored in its tanks. That’s enough to do as much damage as a tactical nuclear weapon.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little cautious and turning off your engine when refueling your car, following safety rules.