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#0835: Whose Gas is it, Anyway?

Original Air Date: 08.30.2008

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Description: 
This week on Car Talk, we wade into the seldom-charted waters of gas pump etiquette. Heidi's got a nifty maneuver to get the last few drops out of her hose, but was alarmed to learn she might be practicing Petrol Larceny. Also, could the essence of Car Talk really be expressed by one single word? Plus, Bruce in Illinois shares another reminder why you should never buy a car from your brother, a Saturn keeps mooing long past the pasture, and a sure-fire way to test a relationship: cook your girlfriend's transmission. All this, plus a few more signs you may need a new car, this week on Car Talk.

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Heidi's Maneuver

by joewang

I had a response. You mentioned that you basically take a few drops of the previous person's gasoline and you leave drops of your own gasoline for the next guy - a leave a penny / take a penny system that leaves the underlying karma entirely undisturbed. However, how does this square with the different grades of gasoline available at a common pump? I am not anally-retentive enough to suggest that a few drops of 89-octane will corrupt the integrity of my 16 gallons of 93-octane, but it might mean that those who purchase high-test gasoline are (in addition to throwing money down their gas tanks anyway) getting *further* screwed by the pumps. I own a Saab, which requires the premium stuff (much like my girlfriend), but I feel now that I am adding at least a few drops of premium to those behind me while diluting my purchase due to the cheapskates who came before. Your thoughts?

Heidi's right!

by Mary Ann Schafer

I almost hiccupped in joyful recognition of a kindred spirit. I too lift the hose above my head at the end of the gas delivery. I started doing this when I noticed gas dribbling from the hose onto my car and onto the blacktop. So, if I am preventing gas from dribbling, I am definitely NOT stealing from the next customer, thank you very much!

Favorite Moment: I did enjoy the suggestion of doing this in disguise. I love garb!

What??

by crrobin

I fail to follow your guys' logic on this one. The meter is in the pump housing before the nozzle. The amount of gasoline purchased passes through the meter on to the hose to the nozzle and into the tank. Heidi "owns" or has paid for everything that passed through the meter. My question is why is she not getting what she paid for; i.e., what is in the hose between the nozzle and the meter??

Big Sam's

by auntiegladys

I think Fred and Al are just wonderful! We used to heist some brewskis in South Philly a few years back. they have gone on to bigger and better things, but I'm still sitting on this stool. Keep up the good work guys! I listen every morning on my transistor at 9AM. Wudn't miss it 4 the world.

Favorite Moment: when Fred fell down in that pile of **** and got his pants all dirty.

Keep the gas out of our groundwater and air

by rkwong78

I try to empty out the pump not just for a few drops of gas, but also so that I don't drip the gas on the ground when I pull the nozzle out. Also, any gas left in the nozzle is open to air so that in AZ, on a slow day, any gas left there is going to evaporate anyway, gas being such a volatile liquid. Was also disappointed at the answer regarding accidental shifting out of D3 into Park or Reverse. Usually Click and Clack support their answers with some technical justification...this time there was none, just a 'don't sweat it'. What's happening in the automatic transmission when you do that? Why don't the gears strip? How are they built to avoid permanent damage? I love these guys, but this was not their best show.

Favorite Moment: One word...constult

The Math

by mattyg313

A 3/4 inch hose that is 8' long has a volume of 23.5 ounces. At $4 per gallon, that is about $.70 per trip to the gas station saved (or stolen).

My first show... and I loved it

by wickedH

About the gas in the pump: Unless the hose is airtight between the nozzle and the pump, then any gas in there would evaporate completely in a couple of hours or even minutes depending on the weather. Which means if no one used the pump recently before you, then you dont get any of his leftovers. And if you dont drain the hose completely into your tank, then you are throwing away gas that you paid for (or donating it to the next customer). It is absurd to say one is stealing in this case.

She's not getting any gas!

by David-n-Virginia

Here in Virginia, the pump handle works ONLY when the pump is running. Let me explain. The valve in the handle only opens when there is pressure behind it. So it is impossible to empty the hose. You would have to unscrew the handle to get the gas out of the hose. That said- A guy at work found a pump with a defective handle. After pumping his $20.00 the pump shut off, but the handle did not click off. He was able to siphon another 5 or 6 gallons of gas before he felt too many people were watching him. He had checked his oil, washer, etc. He finally left, and the next day the pump was tagged "out of service" Karma got him in the end, as he had very bad luck for the next week. Everything he touched broke. He even ran out of gas one day !

I am guilty

by hipguy4rel

I have been straining the excess gas I paid for in the line before I recap the tank. I am looking forward to the quantitative data on the amount wasted/saved/stolen during 2 extra shakes. Is there any laws against the extra drop stealing? Sidenote-- I remember a discussion on the best time to get gas, however I am still a fan of gassing up first thing in the morning. It just feels like the liquid is more condensed and is there for fuller when it is coldest. Would this have any effect on the shaken amount?

Favorite Moment: constult -i too constult daily

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