There’s a story behind this one. I know the Car Talk community loves stories, so here goes. (Skip below if you don’t want the long-winded tale.)
I noticed our minivan was low on fuel when I pulled into our driveway this afternoon, so I figured I’d put some gas in the next time I drove. My wife drove next and, while she was out, filled the tank completely. Later that night after running an errand, I remembered I needed to put some gas in the car. Without bothering to check the fuel gauge (which, unbeknownst to me, now read full), I pulled into a local gas station and told the attendant to put in $20 of regular.
We live in Oregon, where you don’t pump your own gas, so I sat and listened to my local NPR station while waiting for the attendant to do his job. He was the only attendant working at the time, so he was servicing other cars in addition to mine. After what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, the attendant informed me that the gas pump kept “clicking off” and that he was only able to put in $10 (about 4 gallons at the current price). I told him no big deal, $10 was fine, and drove off towards home. At this point I noticed that the gauge read full, and I began to worry that I had unwittingly force-fed my van 4 more gallons of gas than it was capable of holding. The car also smelled noticeably of gasoline by the time I got home (less than a mile away).
THE QUESTION IS THIS:
Where did all that gas go? The tank only holds 21 gallons. No gas came back up out of the fuel filler neck (I think the attendant would have noticed that). So where did those 4 extra gallons wind up? I’ve never overfilled a tank before–I’ve always stopped fueling when I heard the click–so for a first time over-fueling, I’ve really outdone myself. (Though technically I should give partial credit to the attendant who actually put the gas in.)
Is there potential damage to the car? How can I get it checked out to make sure that it’s safe for my wife and kids to ride in again? Any insights would be very much appreciated.
Thanks in advance! Hope you enjoyed my tale of woe.