It’s always exciting to hear about new models of cars coming out and all the latest features, but there are a lot of things about our own vehicles that we may wonder about and never give much thought to. Like why isn’t the gas tank on the same side of every car? Maybe it has to do with whether it’s American or not? That guess has potential, but that’s not it. Why don’t they put it right in the middle like they used to?

With everything that goes on between filling up at the gas station, driving home, unloading the car and getting logged on to your computer, it’s no wonder you never thought to look it up. Or maybe that’s because you aren’t a trivia research freak. At any rate, we have the answer right here.

Why Not Put It in the Center and Call It Good?

How long did it take you to figure out which side of your car the gas filler was on? Do you forget to check when you drive someone else’s car? It sure seems like it would make sense to just put the thing in the same place, doesn’t it? Well, actually, there’s method to the madness in this case, and not just some quirky need to change things just to say they did.

The gas cap used to be located right in the middle of the back of the vehicle, often behind the license plate frame, so you could fill your car from either side. Handy, yes, but not safe. Getting rear-ended is a common traffic accident, and when that happens, damage to a pipe sticking right up to a cap on the back end is likely. And when that pipe leads to the gas tank, a small accident becomes much more dangerous. So it’s now illegal to put the gas filler on the rear of the vehicle. 

Moved to a Safer Spot

Safety regulations require the gas filler to be away from crumple zones, at the car’s widest part, and where it won’t drip on electrical wiring or hot exhaust parts if a leak does occur.  Each make of car has a bit of a different shape and layout, so the engineers have to factor in those three factors when deciding where to put it, in addition to the location and structure of the fuel tank.

Some manufacturers also consider it safer to put it on the side away from traffic to protect the driver from passing traffic when filling on the roadside or at a particularly aggressive gas station.

But then again, having it on the driver’s side is more convenient for running cables to cover flaps that release from inside the vehicle. So maybe we should just be thankful that most cars have a little dashboard icon showing which side it’s on, and remember to pay attention!

Your license plate frame may not cover a gas filler any more, but it can be an attractive accessory for your car. Check out our selection of steel black and chrome license plate frames today.