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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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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

immoral instructions.

by Robert Webb

Howdy Click-n-Clack from St James Missouri. First, I have been a long time listener and love the show. However, I feel that by encouraging your listenership to steal gasoline from the next guy, and it is actually stealing, isn't exactly the correct religious thing to do. I am a former Christian of 40 years, and have been a Buddhist the rest of my 50 plus years. In either religion, andd from what I understand about the beliefs of the Jewish and Muslim religions, intentionally taking something that another person pays for is a "sin" for lack of a better word. In the Jewish and Christian and Catholic relions a set of "Commandments" exists to guide the followers in the correct path, as per their personal beliefs. In all cases, the caller was indeed stealing. Try it yourself. Next time you fill up, do the lifting and shaking and take the gas out of the nozzle as described. Then turn on the pump. You will run it up a few cents. and when gas is as high as it has been under the present administration, a few cents at a time adds up. But, I still laughed through the caller's time! Thanx for years of instruction and laughter, Rob "The Hawaiian Shirt Guy" Webb

Favorite Moment: Thye whole damn thing!

Every last drop

by susanmarcosson

I too hold up the hose to get every last drop out. I paid for it and it's just laying in the hose. Granted it's only a smidgen but at these prices every drop counts. If the guy before me used a higher grade lucky me. Gotta Go.

Running on leaded fuel

by Mike W

Your answer to Question 7 does not sound right to me. I agree that taking out the O2 sensors and cat converters will stop damage to them. But if you take out the O2 sensors, then there is no way for the engine to know the Air fuel ratio. It will thus run open loop. I think that on most vehicles that the ECU will see this as a major problem after a while and shut down the vehicle, or at least take it to limp home mode. So, the way I see it is that the listener will have a terrible time as the ECU will be fighting him all the way. Your advice would work with many older cars, but not recent ones, I think. Love the show!

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!

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