Why don't car manufacturers all put the gas filler on the same side of their cars?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

Why do some manufacturers build their cars with the gas-tank filler tube on the
driver's side, and some put it on the passenger side? My theory was that my
Subaru had the gas- tank filler on the right side because that's the driver's
side in Japan. When they moved the steering wheel to the left side for American
sales, they didn't bother moving the gas filler. However, my research (done in a
megamall parking lot) does not support this hypothesis, and the placement seems
to be random. Any idea what the rationale behind the placement is? -- William

TOM: As far as we know, there is none. We've heard one argument that it's safer
to have the filler cap on the passenger side. Why? Because if you run out of gas
by the side of the road, you won't have to pour your little gallon of gas into
the car on the driver's side as semis and milk trucks go whizzing by. That
sounds kind of bogus to me, but that's an argument that's been made.

RAY: The case for having the filler tube on the driver's side makes more sense
to me. First of all, when you drive up to a gas station "island," you pull up on
the right side, just like you do everywhere else in the United States of
America. Plus, if you're pumping the gas yourself, it's more convenient to pump
the gas from the side you're already on, isn't it?

TOM: But as far as we know, there's no universal standard, nor is there any
overwhelming reason to go one way or the other. The exhaust system has to go
down one side of the car, and the gasoline filler tube generally goes on the

RAY: If you think you have a compelling argument for one side or the other,
write to us care of this newspaper or through our Web site (the Car Talk section
of cars.com) and we'll print your thoughts.

TOM: And remember, since every major automobile manufacturer reads our column
religiously (as do their legal staffs), your ideas will be going right to the

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