Leaving Engine Running While Refueling

I generally leave the engine running at the petrol station while I refuel so the adult passengers can sit in comfort with the air conditioning. Are there any risks with this?


  • +2

    I drive a car that has a turbo timer which means that when I pull the keys out of the ignition, the car continues to run for 3 minutes before turning itself off.

    When I get out of the car to fill up, I take the keys out, but often I have already filled the tank before the car turns off (the other times it turns off while I am in the middle of fuelling). Therefore I fill the car with the engine running and have been doing this for the 15 years I have owned this car. I've never had any issue, so after 15 years and thousands of petrol fills with the engine running, I'm confident that it's not a problem to leave the car running.

    In all those years, only once has a station attendant told me off for it.

    • I once had a car with a turbo timer, too. I think I had a similar experience to you, ie no problem.

    • And most people will never get into a serious enough accident that their seat-belts will save their life, or that airbags will deploy. And yet it's still a great idea to wear them and airbags are still mandatory.

    • +1

      I've never had a car crash either, but she'll be right.

  • +5

    Don't care what others do or say, I CHOOSE to turn my car off while refueling and take the keys and lock (remote) the car while I'm in paying so it can't get jacked

  • +1

    OP must have an older car, my car is a 2015 Hyundai i30, it's actually not possible to open the fuel door without placing the transmission to park and turning off the ignition.

    You need to turn your vehicle off before you fill up. I can't believe you haven't killed yourself yet.

  • I’m just here for the comments

  • +1

    What a fool to leave your engine running there are signs everywhere turn off engine or BANG fire what an idiot he is.

    • +3

      There are signs to turn off mobile phones as well. I wonder how many fools ignore those signs too!

  • lol trolololol

  • +2

    Slightly off topic but related.
    When I was 17 and worked in a servo back when an attendant filled your car for you, it was common for us to serve two or three customers at the same time and one night the nozzle feel out of a car and didn't shut off. I ran to the pump and turned it off but there was a few litres of fuel on the concrete. The customer, sitting at the wheel, didn't notice and dropped cigarette ash from his burning cigarette from the open window onto the concrete. Guess what? There should have been "an earth shattering kaboom" but no nothing, all was well and I lived.
    Since that day I have personally stopped and extinguished two roadside fires started by cigarette buts thrown from cars so the potential is definately there…
    I drive an older diesel (flash point of diesel is much higher than ulp) but still shutdown the engine to fill up, even if the engine is not fully warmed up.

    • +1

      No there shouldn't have been "an earth shattering ka-boom", unless you live in a Hollywood movie.

      • It is impossible to light petrol with a cigarette (but the cigarette lighter certainly can).

      "The experiments conducted for this study consisted 4,500 instances of exposure of a lit cigarette to ignitable concentrations of gasoline vapor in air. There were ZERO instances of the ignition of gasoline vapors from the exposure of those vapors to a lit tobacco cigarette during any of the experiments."


      Also, this statement is just plain wrong: "flash point of diesel is much higher than ulp"-

      • ULP has a flash point of -43°C.

      • Diesel has a flash points between 52 and 96 °C

      Do you even understand what a flash point is? It's the minimum temp at which the fuel can produce ignitable vapours. ie Diesel wont produces vapour unless is over 50c, while petrol WILL produce vapour (even at -40c!!).

      Your ignorance is dangerous. Especially considering you worked at a petrol station!

    • The customer, sitting at the wheel, didn't notice and dropped cigarette ash from his burning cigarette from the open window onto the concrete. Guess what? There should have been "an earth shattering kaboom" but no nothing, all was well and I lived.

      On a related note, your left ear might find this video amusing. Petrol will burn very very well when lit, but it won't explode like in the movies unless it's vapors in an enclosed space… Or perhaps you left that jar burning for so long that the rest of the petrol underneath starts boiling.


      Usual disclaimers apply. Don't burn things that don't need to be burnt.

      • True. Of course, fire also spreads. And there's a lot of combustible material at a servo, if that needed saying.

        • And there's a lot of combustible material at a servo, if that needed saying.

          Not sure about your servo, but all the servos I go to are pretty sparse. There isn't much around the bowser at all, probably on purpose. There's a bin and a bucket of water with a squeegee, that's about it. Maybe some leaflets.

          • @eug: Petrol is a combustible material.

            • @HighAndDry: Yes, I did say it burns really, really well. But something has to light it first.

              The point was that petrol on the ground won't explode with an "earth shattering kaboom" like the OP said.

              • @eug: Yeah you're right on that point. But having a servo on fire is not ideal, even if there isn't a huge boom.

  • +4

    Let me take a stab.

    OP did exactly this on the weekend when it was warm and got told off from the servo attendant. OP didn't like that and has jumped on here to post this question to satisfy their own stubbornness.

  • -3

    RAF Tornado jets mid-air refuelling en route to Libya. If jet can, then car can. LoL.

    • +3

      You think OP's minivan is built to the same standard and specifications as a military jet?

  • -1

    Has there ever been a case where using a mobile phone or leaving the car running while refuelling has caused a fire at a service station in Australia?

    Has anybody been injured or killed?

    What about driving a car? Oh wait…

    The irony.

    • +1

      There's no/very little utility in leaving a car running at a servo, or using a mobile at a servo. There's plenty of utility in driving as a whole.

      • I haven't read all the comments but still wondering if anyone has come up with any examples where fires and injuries have occurred in Australia from above scenarios.

        The other possibility is this thread is full of confected outrage.

        • I think you're right - but this is Australia - where there's always some yahoo ready to tell you what you can or cannot do. We do busybody really well!

  • +2

    Hi OP,

    Now that everyone has responded and flamed you, please respond.

  • +2

    Roasting the marshmellows as we speak. Trolls huddle around the camp fire OP on the spit nearly ready

  • +1

    Its fine as the fuel lines are sealed and the engine is at the other end. Its a bit like having to turn off wifi in the plane. Just scaremongering.

  • i just found out a guy got fined $112 for leaving his door unlocked and window down at a service station

  • Can't your car run the AC with the power on but the engine stopped?

  • +1

    I was out in western nsw in early summer, in Tibooburra. I remember filling up at the servo (which had shade) but it was 45+ degrees. Was told by a local to keep the engine running so it doesn’t cook. 5 hours in 4wd across dunes, the car was hot. Mind you, diesel would smother a burning cigarette so not too worried

  • +2

    Idk why you would. It seems like a strange thing to do, can people cope without AC for like 30s?

    Slightly OT but I'm anal about not wasting fuel and a little part of me dies when I see people leaving their car idling unnecessarily. Think of the environment yo (20mL is 20mL!)

    • can people cope without AC for like 30s?

      You can fill up your car and pay in 30 seconds?

      Think of the environment yo (20mL is 20mL!)

      Did you pick your hybrid car based on maximum fuel efficiency and minimum emissions, or did you pick something that you liked? Do you fill up your tank to full every time (which wastes fuel because you're moving the weight of the fuel as well), or do you only fill up what you need for the day? Think of the environment yo! Every ml counts! :)

  • No risk but this is Australia, one of the world's truly great nanny states - so you're being a very, very naughty boy.

    A couple of months ago I left my headlights on while fuelling and when I went to pay, the cashier told me that they should be off as it's against the rules. Go figure.

  • +1

    My first thought is it’s just not necessary.

    The reason, to keep passengers comfortable, huh? Are you taking 20 minutes to fuel? My amazing car is comfortable for 5+ minutes with no air con.

    Now just ensure to leave the music or radio playing if it was already on.

    • I see it all the time, cars lined up nose-to-tail, engines running, waiting for the pump to be available. Often the car at the front is very close to the person filling up. I did it myself a couple weeks ago when temperatures were mid-30s. My engine was closer to the fuel outlet then the engine in the car being filled.

      Similar events occur thousands of times every single day in Australia yet nothing happens! It's allowed and it's not dangerous. In fact it would be more dangerous if I turned my engine off and my family were exposed to the heat or otherwise had to get out of the car and therefore exposed to the dangers of traffic.

      • I think you replied to the wrong person or thread?

        I was referencing the OP, as such the act of leaving the engine running while having exited the vehicles driving position, and as such undertaking tasks like pumping and paying for the fuel.

        I never mentioned any dangers or any of the situations you appeared to have responded to.

        No mention of fire, no mention of turning the engine off while lined up, I don’t do this, do we need another thread for this specific situation and if people turn there engines off while in line?

        I simply think for the short time you are out of the car and attending to other priorities that there are few good reasons to have the engine running versus not, we may be the nanny state, but I have bigger worries than the administration asking I turn my engine off while out of the car as driver.

        • Forgot to add that I preference taking my keys with me if I am travelling alone, once the car is parked.

  • It is illegal.

    In addition, the risk to the life of anyone sitting inside the car is quite high if the the fuel is natural gas.

  • /facepalm

    mate light a cigar with a Samsung note 8 next time, then ask questions…

  • +1

    Don’t do it! It is illegal& dangerous!Stuff your pax! Let them out & wonder around!

  • came for the comments.

    window lickers making posts like this never disappoint

  • Risks:

    You may get yelled at by other customers.

    You may not get the pump turned on.

    You might drive off without paying.

    Your car might get stolen.

    Your passenger might bump your car into gear and be able to stop it.

    Why you might want to turn the car off:

    No one else wants to smell your exhaust. You are making refueling worse for everybody else.

    Why you might not care:

    Your too lazy to turn your car on and off.

    Your car has electrical issues.

    Why leaving the car on for aircon shows your a tight arse driving a beater:

    Most cars will let you use aircon with the motor off, but most new cars will automatically turn off aircon if the battery gets too low!

  • is the op amerikan or something?

  • It's a popular trend in some asian countries; growing up here I was always instructed to switch ignition off while refueling.

  • "if he dies, he dies"

  • You should also make phone calls and smoke a cigarette to make yourself more comfortable next time.

  • Thanks for the tip OP. Will leave the engine on from now on!

  • Once they said no mobile phones nor lappies to be turned on on a plane, because subtle electronic signal can interfere the flight system; now they ask you to use your phones for entertainment

    • Clearly stating, in airplane mode with wifi on.
      Wifi isn't the problem. It's the ever so slight risk that cellular activity may interfere with navigation systems.

  • Please make sure you do this when there are no other people there so you don't kill them with you

  • I was on holidays in December and did this myself. I filled up while a friend went to pay and I was distracted and forgot to turn my car off. Because it's so quiet I didnt notice. Got back in my car to realise it was on the whole time. Nothing happened, but I wont be doing it again.

  • Show me some evidence that it is unsafe to use a mobile phone while filling up.

  • I can’t wait for the “why is my belly button fluff always blue” forum post; with a poll of course for each colour.

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