What The Fuel Pump Indicator In Your Car Is Actually For

What The Fuel Pump Indicator In Your Car Is Actually For
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Have you ever wondered what that little fuel pump indicator on your dashboard is for? As it turns out, it’s not just there to remind you that your car is powered by petrol. It actually serves an important purpose that many drivers have no clue about. Allow us to fill you in.

Some people just have a knack for remembering important things like multiple, complex passwords and all their friends and families birthdays and phone numbers. Others, like me, do not.

I’ve gotten through life fine without needing to remember every minute detail and with the rise of technology, it’s only made any reliance on my fallible memory less important. But, despite all that, there’s one thing that still gets me when I least expect it: Driving to the wrong side of a petrol pump when re-filling my car. (Or someone else’s.)

To be fair, I’ve had so many cheap bombs surely I can’t be blamed for mis-remembering which side this moving chunk of metal’s petrol tank is on. Well, I’m here to impart some jaw-dropping, mind-exploding knowledge. The ultimate lifehack, if you will. Something so obvious it should be criminal.

There’s actually a way to tell which side of the car the petrol tank is on without whipping out all your memory retention techniques or physically getting out and checking yourself.

If you look at your car’s dash, and to the fuel pump symbol specifically, there should be an arrow. That arrow should be pointing to either the left or right and it’s supposed to indicate which side your petrol tank is actually on. That’s right, without even leaving the vehicle. I say should because some models don’t point in the right direction of the fuel tank but they seem to be the exception, not the rule.

If your car is too much of a bomb, however, it might not actually have one. Apparently, car manufacturers only thought of this neat hack a few decades ago but it would’ve saved us all a little bit of embarrassment if we actually knew about it. Now, if only there was an indicator for which type of petrol I should be using.

What Happens If You Put The Wrong Octane Of Petrol In Your Car

I drive a lot of different vehicles when I need to get around, but I'm always a little worried when it's time to fill them up. Will something happen if I use 91 instead of 95, or vice versa? Well, this thread at StackExchange answers the question, and long story short, there's little to worry about.

Read more

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • Yeah, my older Camry doesn’t have this arrow.
    I’ve also read that if it doesn’t have the arrow, then you can tell by what side of the bowser the pump is on in the icon.
    Also false. Mine’s on the wrong side.

    • Yeah I’m pretty sure there is no arrow on my dash and the fuel pump icon is in the direct centre of the gauge at the top. Side note: my car isn’t old, or “a bit of a bomb” either.

      I keep hearing the fuel gauge = the side of the car the filler is on story and it’s definitely not true for all cars. In fact I can’t recall seeing it in practise in the three cars I’ve owned or the half dozen I drive on a semi-regular basis.

      • Oh, and as for the “which type of fuel”. It may not be the case at all bowsers (or for all vehicles) but I know at one point the nozzle size was actually different between petrol and diesel. So you literally couldn’t put the petrol nozzle into a diesel filler. That was years ago though, and I think it’s changed so the nozzles are all a standard size (apart from high volume diesel).

        • I’ve noticed at most petrol stations I go to that Diesel pumps have an extra safety catch on them to differentiate them physically from the others. So I guess the nozzles must be the same if that’s a thing.

  • Just a small correction; it’s not which side the petrol tank is on, it’s which side the filler is on. The tank is usually located centrally. I love articles written by non-techie people which aren’t tech checked.

  • This isn’t always true, in fact most vehicles I have driven don’t show any arrow and some don’t point the right direction. It would be nice, but it is only a thing in some cars.

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