There are warnings at fuel stations which tell us to turn off our vehicle engines during refuelling at the pumps. Motorists are also advised to shift into park mode or engage the emergency brake and turn off any auxiliary 12 volt sources of power.
There are a couple of reasons why this is an important safety measure to prevent a catastrophe. Accidental ignition of fuel fumes. During the refuelling procedure the fumes or vapour from the fuel being pumped can accumulate on the ground level near your car.
There are also small amounts of fuel vapour displaced from your tank by the liquid fuel. If your vehicle engine is left running, it presents potential sources of fuel igniters such as the sparks from the vehicle exhaust pipe and to a less extent the engine alternator and the often “red hot” catalytic converter fitted at the centre of the exhaust pipe.
Failure to switch off auxiliary 12 volt power sources for cigarette lighters and phone chargers can also be potential accident igniters of a fuel fire. Accidental moving of the vehicle during refuelling. Leaving your engine running and dashing out to the convenience store during refuelling creates a risk of children accidentally engaging the drive gear and moving the car with the fuelling nozzle in your tank.
There are remote cases where drivers who are distracted or in a hurry have accidentally moved the cars or driven off during the refuelling process. This situation can cause a major fuel spill and fire from the exhaust. These scenarios or potential causes of accidental fires at the fuel pumps can be avoided by switching off the vehicle engines and accessory power sources.