Updated July 16, 2012

Topping Off Gas Tank - Is It Worth It?

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Gasoline prices are making consumers across the United States sweat. Prices keep going up and peoples' budgets can't keep up. So, consumers are taking the matter into their own hands by finding ways they can cut down on gas costs. One way they are doing this is by getting as much as they can in their tank when they find a great price. This often leads to “topping off” the gas tank.

Topping off is when someone adds more gas to their tank once the pump automatically clicks off. People often do this to round off the amount of their sale, and, as mentioned above, to get as much as possible at the best price they’ve found. Unfortunately, what many consumers don’t realize is that topping off their tank actually costs them money and harms the environment.

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How it affects the environment

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), topping off creates unnecessary gasoline vapors. Topping off can also create overflow of gasoline from your vehicle, leading to spillage. The vapors from topping off and from the spillage are harmful to breathe and contribute to ozone problems.

The EPA also states that topping off can mess with the gas station’s vapor recovery system. Doing so can make the system shut off so it doesn’t work like it should. This also leads to additional air pollution and can create problems for the next people who pull up to that pump.

How it affects your car

The EPA also warns consumers that topping off can affect the performance of your vehicle. Your car or truck was designed to have additional room in the gas tank to allow room for the gas to expand. When you top off, you are eliminating that room for gas expansion; instead, it will evaporate into other areas of the vehicle, like the vapor collection system. This will cause the system to work improperly, leading to poor performance and higher gas emissions.

How it affects your wallet

Any spillage that results from topping off is ultimately money that you have thrown on the ground. Remember, every drop that comes out of the pump is money that comes from your wallet or is charged to your credit card!

You may also be paying for gasoline that is never distributed into your tank. This is because topping off can cause a back-up in the station’s tanks. The back-up is caused when your tank is full and there is nowhere for the gas to go.

Friendlier ways to save money

If you are looking for ways to save money at the pump, read our article titled “How to Get Better Gas Mileage.” It has money-saving tips you can employ to get the most out of every drop you put into your vehicle.

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