The latch thing on petrol pumps

So in the US you have this latch thing on a petrol pump which allows the pumper to stand and watch the pump, err, pump. Here, in the UK, those latches are all removed. As in, the holes and stuff are all there - but no latch.

So what is the reason behind this? I love those latches. Why can’t we have them in the UK? Is it for some safety reason that does not apply in the US? How does the latch/no latch debate pan out in other countries?

I WAG it’s safety thing. Here in Canada our latches are removed as well, and there are stickers on most pumps declaring the operator will not run the pump if a device is used to prop it open (ie: a gascap).

I think it’s because people in the winter (or rain) would set the pump to auto-pump and go back in their car to stay warm. What happens is you can easily build up a static charge from your clothes rubbing the seat fabric getting in and out. When you get out and touch the metal pump, poof -you tend to explode.

There was a video circulating via email last year that showed a woman do just this.

I guess that’s why. As to why the US has these, Og knows. I know I’ve seen US gas stations sell beer* which just blows me away.

*beer in single serve cans… in a cooler of ice… reeady to drink… on the go. :eek: Promote drinking and driving much??

Depends on state law, but supermarkets can also sell liquor. Where I live, it must be a separate store, but what’s the difference? You have to drive to the liquor store to get your beer. Why would selling it in a gas station promote drinking and driving?

In some U.S. jurisdictions, gas stations do not have the “latch thing” (as good a description as any.) Many individual stations in my area have chosen to remove the latch. I suppose the perception of safety has something to do with it, but since most of the stations that have removed the latch seem to be located near major Interstate highways, I wonder if it’s an anti-theft measure?

I remember this being discussed here fairly recently – one of the comments made was that there are often fire or building codes that state that gas pumps cannot have the latches. This explains why you might not find a single pump with a latch in your town, while you see them everywhere else.

Such a thing would definitely vary from region to region, and likely from town to town.

Just move to Jersey and relax in your car as somebody else pumps less-expensive gas for you :slight_smile:

The ‘latch thingy’ allows the pump to run unattended, relying entirely upon the automatic shut-off device in the nozzle to stop the flow of petrol at a critical level. If the automatic shut-off fails, there will be a dangerous fuel spill.

This is not an abstract concept – it actually happened to a co-worker, back when I worked for Budget Rent-a-Car. He managed to pump over 300 gallons into a Ford Pinto – or rather into the storm drain. The fire department had to deploy foam, and the airport runways were shut down for 2 hours.

Not a good career move, particullarly after he’d torn the door clean off of a Dodge Aspen while backing out of the wash bay the month before.

In my opinion, it’s just another case of “we’ll protect you because you are not capable of protecting yourself.”

In all my years of pumping gas, I have never seen the auto-stop function fail on a pump nozzle. The static issue is a matter of ignorance. Removing the valve latches trades convenience for safety from ignorace.

And don’t get me started on the no cell phone use during gas pumping.

FWIW, the latch is still present on UK pumps - only the wire which it catches onto is removed. And there’s still the mounting holes, so all you need is a straightened-out paper clip. Or you can just wedge the inner part of the petrol cap into the pump handle, which always seems to hold the trigger at the right position.

I don’t know whether this is a regional difference, but the auto-stop feature is part of the car, not the nozzle. So older cars would be susceptible to overflows, as would any large vehicle with a more ‘tank-like’ tank with a larger aperture.

The auto-stop feature is not a part of the car, but is a part of the pump nozzle.

That’s not what I’ve been told by petrol station attendants, after spraying fuel everywhere from an ancient car.

How the gas pump shutoff works:

The Master seems to disagree.

Besides, on older vehicles, often the filler neck opening is larger in diameter than the nozzle on the pump. That can affect it (for example, I have to manually stop when filling up my truck, because it won’t trip the shutoff until it’s running out onto the concrete.)

Like its so hard to hold the nozzle when you’re filling up? What’s the big effort? Why is it too much like hard work for some people even to breathe. yeesh.

The whole point of such systems is that they are meant only as backups so that they are only called into duty when the person using the pump fails to stop pumping in time. With the pump clipped into place and relying only on this backup device, you’ve removed half the intended safety systems. Maybe its ok if you stand by and watch the nozzle, but getting into your car or walking away leaving the nozzle pumping? That’s got to be unwise. Here’s why - say the pump fails at a rate of 1% - 1 in every 10.000 times a pump is used it fails to stop pumping automatically (ignore the actual figures, not important) the fact is that without the “lazy” catch the person will notice and stop using the pump, but with the catch the fuel will keep pumping all over the ground and the side of the car. not good.

Urban legend or not - I don’t think so - but I heard about pilots doing something similar - i can’t recall exactly but I think they were landing the plane by essentially only pulling up when the “emergency” low approach buzzer (designed to be a last resort system) went off. Result? If it failed…


Germany’d really blow you away, then. They sell beer everywhere. Gas stations and McDonalds, too.

Something similar happened with a crash on British Rail in the 70s - the then-new HST trains had far superior braking to anything previous, so the ‘double yellow’ early warning signal normally allowed the driver to continue at full speed, only braking for the yellow. Except in this case, the double yellow was being used as a warning for a points switch ahead, which necessitated braking. The train jumped the tracks.

It’s so you can clean the windshield and check your oil while the tank fills - it allows multitasking. I used to know a guy who obsessed about just how quickly he could manage to get all car-related tasks finished during a gas stop. It got fairly annoying, actually.

I personally love the latch, and always use it. I take the time to wash the windshield, check tire pressure, check oil, etc., all of which would take a lot of extra time (roughly double) if I had to do it before or after pumping gas.

I think another reason for taking off the lever may have to do with people driving off with the hose still attached, after having prepaid. It happens a lot, literally a coupe times a week, according to a station attendant I talked to after I…um…once did it myself. :o I have certainly seen other people do it on several occasions as well. The pump hose is designed to disconnect under such circumstances, but you can imagine the nuisance, cost, and potential for a bad situation if it doesn’t quite work properly.

One of my brothers-in-law told me about a time the auto-shutoff failed. It was a cold Detroit winter morning, about 5 AM, and he was on his way to work when he decided to get gas. After he set the latch, he got back in the car, what with it being so cold. He dozed off and woke up about 20 minutes later… with the gas still pumping. He bought something like $300 worth of gas and said the grass in front of the station is still dead. (Yes, I know, he’s an ass in about three different ways here - leaving his car running, getting back inside, not reporting the spill… and maybe he embellished the story. But I know the auto-shutoff has failed for me before.)

After I get the pump going, it usually takes about 5 minutes to pump about 15 gallons into my empty fuel tank. Of course I know that some pumps are slower, some are faster.

Just out of curiousity, what was your friend doing for, roughly, 1.5 hours while the tank was being “filled”?

My RV has a 55 gallon tank and the fill nozzle is elevated. It’s awkward and fatiguing to hold the thing for 15 minutes while the tank fills. Any other dumb questions? :slight_smile: