Q: I get your enthusiasm for fuel filler doors on the left. There's just one snag: international trade. Even assuming every manufacturer had to put the fuel door on the driver's side, if you buy a car from a Japanese company (there are a few of those), the United Kingdom, Australia or India, those countries drive on the left. So, my Nissan 350Z with the fuel door on the right is on the driver's side, in Japan.
Q: I agree very strongly with your position. I remember being on vacation some years back and was filling the tank at a gas station with a car with the driver's side fill. I was paying attention to the location of the gasoline entering my car in case the auto stop did not work. I felt a jolt and heard a bang. Another car ran into the passenger side rear fender. If I had been filling on that side I might not be around today.
Q: Love your column and I agree with you about fuel filler location but for a much different reason. As a woman driver, I feel it is unsafe to have the fuel filler on the passenger side. Also, the first thing I will do if my next car has that feature that automatically unlocks the doors when I put it in Park is CHANGE IT. I can only begin to tell you how unsafe that makes me feel! A feature that was clearly never screened by a female! Am I overcautious? Am I paranoid? Possibly. But better safe than sorry.
Q: I have to disagree with the notion that gas tanks should be on the passenger side of the car. With the uptick in carjackings it seems to me it is far safer if you do not have to leave the driver's side of the car. I pull close to the pump, with enough room to open the car door; it's that simple. This way it's harder for people to approach you without being noticed instantly. The door and the pump provide a safety net. It's also easier to jump in and close the door if you're threatened. Having traveled for work, I was always nervous when I had to rent a foreign-made car, which usually has the tank filler on the passenger side. This troubles me because I travel alone. The fear of someone stealing your purse or car, or holding you at gunpoint is far easier for the perpetrator when you're outside your car, on the passenger side. I will never again buy a car with the tank on the passenger side.
A: That leaves us with the final word. (What a great position in which to be.) As we have discovered, there is no rule or even unwritten law ("Show me where it's not written"). It frankly boils down to where it is most convenient for the engineers. The fuel door on my car is on the left. The fuel door on Mrs. Motormouth's car is on the right. When one drives the other's car, there is a brief moment of refueling frustration when approaching the gas pumps. That frustration is quickly overcome with a quick glance at the fuel gauge. There sits a little triangle pointing to the side on which to find the fuel door.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. His writing has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to firstname.lastname@example.org.