The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Getting the Most From Your Fuels

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 5, 2018

Every summer Americans take to the highways. It’s a big country with lots to see, and reliable fuels are fundamental to the uniquely American freedom to range far and wide. In 2017, Americans traveled nearly 8 trillion miles from April to August. As we load our cars with sports gear, picnic baskets and beach chairs, some tips from API downstream experts to help those fuels take you as far as possible – safely, all summer long.

Efficiency 

  • Slow down. Driving at 65 miles per hour rather than 55 mph reduces fuel economy by about 2 miles per gallon.
  • Drive steadily. Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops can decrease fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon, and abrupt starts require about twice as much gasoline as gradual starts. 
  • Tune up your engine and check your tires. An engine tune up can improve fuel economy by about 1 mile per gallon, while underinflated tires can decrease fuel economy by up to 1 mile per gallon. 
  • Combine short trips and avoid traveling during rush hours if possible to reduce fuel-consumption patterns such as starting and stopping and numerous idling periods.

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Proper Filling

  • Never allow children to operate the pump.
  • Turn off your vehicle engine while refueling and put your vehicle in park and/or set the emergency brake.
  • Do not smoke or light any kind of flame while at the pump.
  • Use only the refueling latch provided on the gasoline dispenser nozzle. Never jam the refueling latch on the nozzle open.
  • Prevent gasoline spills by not overfilling your tank.
  • Avoid re-entering your vehicle while fueling to prevent a possible static electricity ignition of fuel vapors. If you must re-enter, discharge any static by touching a metal part of the vehicle away from the fill point, such as the door, upon exiting.
  • Avoid prolonged breathing of gasoline vapors.
  • Use only approved portable containers for dispensing gasoline and place the container on the ground when refueling to avoid static electricity. Containers should never be filled while inside a vehicle or its trunk, the bed of a pickup truck, or on the floor of a trailer.

Misfueling

  • Always use the fuel (diesel or gasoline) recommended by your auto’s manufacturer.
  • Never mix gasoline and diesel in your car.
  • For gasoline-fueled vehicles, use the octane recommended by your manufacturer. A higher octane may also help when towing a heavy load.

Storage & Spills

  • Only store gasoline in an approved container or tank.
  • Do not smoke or light any kind of flame where gasoline is stored. Your local and state governments are the first places you should check for standards and regulations on gasoline storage. For example, fire codes and regulations restrict the amount of gasoline an individual homeowner can store (usually no more than 25 gallons) in approved containers.
  • Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion
  • Place cap tightly on the container after filling. Do not use containers that do not seal properly. Keep gasoline containers tightly closed and handle them gently to avoid spills.
  • Gasoline should be stored at room temperature, away from potential heat sources
  • Store gasoline separate from the house or place of occupancy, such as a shed or garage.
  • Always keep gasoline out of reach from children.
  • Do not mix gasoline with kerosene or diesel. Do not use gasoline in kerosene heaters or lamps.
  • Minor spills should be absorbed with sawdust, paper, or rags. Larger spills may be contained and collected. Place recovered gasoline and cleanup materials in approved, labeled containers for proper disposal.
  • Never dispose of spilled gasoline into your garbage drains, toilets, or sewers. If you do, it might cause a fire or seep into streams, bays, lakes or your groundwater.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.