How do gas stations deal with lost nozzles?

As I was driving home yesterday, a car passed me on the interstate that contained a very oblivious driver – he had a gasoline nozzle sticking out of his car, and he was trailing about 10-12 feet of hose. I’m assuming that he just forgot about it and drove off, taking it with him. After I got done laughing, I was wondering – what does the loss of one of those mean to the gas station? Are they expensive? Do they just have a box of 'em in the back? Will they try to track you down and smite you? So many questions for such a trivial thing.

It’s a start.
You can find directories to suppliers and determine costs.

They must not cost much, because my husband accidentally ripped one out by driving away and they just waved him off like it was the third time that week.

Your husband did that three times in a week? Sheesh.


      • Some hoses have parts that pop apart but stop the flow of fuel almost instantly (if they have a big elbow right below the nozzle, often it’s a break-away elbow, and these can be popped back together with no harm done). Some use a metal breakaway junction on the hose somewhere (it’s two metal pieces that actually break apart, but once again, the hose-end one stops the flow of fuel almost instantly. Both ends of the junction then have to be replaced). Some places go cheap and don’t use anything: if the nozzle gets ripped off while the pump is turned on, lots and lots of gasoline gushes out onto the ground–say maybe a gallon every 8-10 seconds.
  • I worked for a good company that only used the first method, but that sold some stations (including the one I worked at) to a cheap-a$$ company that at first used the second method, then went to the third. Somebody would pull off a gas hose/nozzle about once a month or so. Sometimes they came back with the nozzle, sometimes they didn’t. I don’t know what the things cost; we got them from a chain-owned regional distribution warehouse and the invoices didn’t show the price. - DougC

Learn something new every day. Thanks for all the information!

I’ve done that before. God, it was embarassing. It’s good to know I’m not alone though. I thought the gas attendant was going to kill me… but he just seemed frusterated.

Well, I’ve worked at a gas station…

First, we go and chase down the guy in the car, drag them out and mug them to cover the cost of-… Er, no, we don’t, but there were times we’d like to.

Actually, the standard procedure was to take down their insurance info and everything like that, since it is technically a motor-vehicle accident (And even with the pop-off nozel/hoses, the price was quoted to me as being “a few hundred dollars”), and the company sure as heck wasn’t going to pay for it if they could help it. It was amazing how many people got pissed at that, too (“Okay sir, would you like me to call the police and tell them you hit-and-ran a gas pump? No? Good…”). Though the worst was the guy that said it was my fault because I didn’t get to him first – nevermind the 7 other people I was servicing and the half-dozen backed up behind them.

I think the main frustration with it was not so much that the person was so unobservant that they didn’t notice the big hose sticking out of their vehicle, but more that it takes a good 10-15 minutes to resolve the whole reporting and the like, the manager has to be called, and we spend the rest of the shift explaining to people why they have to pull up to a different pump. It’s a close contest between that and when they drive off but the nozzle yanks out. One time I got a nasty cut across my hand as it snapped back… Another time it left a 3-inch dent in a steel column about a foot away from my head and soaked me in gas.

God I hated that job…

      • We never bothered with insurance info for ripped off nozzles; we just put on a new nozzle or (if it was possible) put the old one back on if they brought it back. ~ I can go by the place tomorrow and ask what the hoses and nozzles cost; maybe they know or can find out… The nozzles and hoses don’t last forever anyway, and the ones we used were disposable. Old ones got tossed in the dumpster. - DougC

A quick search of the site Philster linked to led me here. A search of that site for “nozzle” showed nozzles priced at around $30. The breakaway hose disconnects are around $50, and I’m not sure what the actual hoses cost. So they’re not incredibly cheap, but they’re not too expensive, either. You could probably find some other sites with more prices in that link of Philster’s.

Hmmm. Well, scratch that, because apparently breakaways can be anywhere from $15 to $400, depending on the type and quality. My bad.

Drawing on my vast gas station operating experience, all of the above is true, although it will vary from place to place. I have only seen an actual hose damaged once, and that was when the hose was entangled in the tires of a semi. You can buy a hose for about $25, and they last for years.

Gas nozzle prices vary city to city, depending on local fire codes. Up until about 10 years ago, local fire codes at my station required buying nozzles that cost just under $100. A five minute drive across a river to the next city, they could use $25 nozzles.

That said, in the twenty odd years I ran a station, I only made one person pay for breaking off a nozzle. He drove off and the part of the nozzle that goes into you gas tank broke off and fell in his gas tank. He charged into the station demanding I pay to have the nozzle removed from his gas tank. After laughing in his face, I called the police(for insurance purposes) , he quickly settled down, I got a check from his insurance company in a couple of weeks.

Here’s an idea: design the equipment so that if, after a minute has passed after the delivery of fuel has stopped, the console inside the station or store will beep or make some other indication that the nozzle has not yet been returned to the hook. The cashier/attendant could then tell the customer about this before he/she drives off. There could also be something like this on the pump itself to alert the customer. I realize this system would only work for old-fashioned customers like myself who go inside to pay after filling. It would not be as effective of a preventative measure for those who pay at the pump or for those who pre-pay, fill up and then drive away. The only other solution I can see is for all states to require an attendant on duty to fill the tank, as they do in Oregon. (by the way, can someone from Oregon or any other state which does not allow self-service at fuel pumps explain why such laws are in place?)

See in New Jersey we don’t have to worry about this: D

[ul]I was just wondering if Martha Stewart could come up with a use for all these noozles people are taking home. :p[/ul]