Gas station basics that aren’t that basic | Fuel Tips

Staff
By Staff Writer
May 28, 2021 | Fuel Tips | Posted in Features | From the June 2021 issue | Never miss an article

Sponsored Content Presented by Sunoco.

Gasoline seems so simple: You pull up, you pump, you leave. But you have questions, right? So we ran a few common ones past Zachary J. Santner, technical specialist at Sunoco Race Fuels. 

How can I tell a good gas station from a substandard one?

Busy stations are your friends, Santner notes, as gasoline can go stale as it sits. “A station that moves a lot of fuel, that’s good,” he explains. 

One potential red flag is a slow pump. That could be a sign that its filter is full of dirt or has detected water due to phase separation–the pumps contain special filters that cut the flow of fuel when water is present. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to fill a 10-gallon tank. After all, Santner notes, stations want to get their customers in and out.

When should I refuel?

Most modern cars feature an in-tank pump with the fuel itself cooling the unit. “Riding around on empty all the time probably isn’t great,” Santner notes, as that can potentially reduce the pump’s life. 

Does fuel type really matter?

Top Tier fuels–Sunoco’s are on that list–contain more detergents. Using more octane than recommended won’t hurt the car, Santner notes, adding that these fuels offer a longer shelf life. 

Why do I have to turn off the engine while fueling?

 “It’s all a precautions thing,” he says, as some industrial accidents have been traced to ignition sources–which can be eliminated by turning off the engine and also minimizing any static electricity.

Can I safely use a single container for different types of fuel?

In most cases, yes, you can use your race jugs to transport gas for your street car–with one big caveat: You shouldn’t mix leaded and unleaded products.

“All of the fuels can be mixed,” Santner says of unleaded gasolines, whether they’re intended for race or street. “They’re all essentially made from the same components. There’s no reaction to worry about.”

Technically, he notes, a container used to transport leaded fuels could pick up some trace amounts of lead. “It wouldn’t be a lot,” Santner admits, “but you probably wouldn’t want to use that can with your daily driver.” In that case, he recommends rinsing the container with some unleaded fuel before using it to transport any street fuels. 

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