Is Topping Off Your Gas Tank Illegal In Washington State?

My wife and I got into a fascinating discussion on our trip to Oregon over the weekend. Do you realize that it's illegal to top off your gas tank in Oregon? A law passed in 2009 in Oregon so that got me thinking if the same was true in Washington because I didn't know the answer.

Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash
Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash

If you've ever driven through Washington state, you've likely noticed that there are a lot of gas stations. In fact, there are one every 10 miles or so on average.

What Does Washington State Law Say About Topping Off Your Gas Tank

With gas prices always fluctuating, it's no wonder that many people try to save a few bucks by topping off their tanks when they're low on fuel.

But did you know that this could actually be against the law?

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Read on to find out more.

In the state of Washington, it is illegal to refuel your vehicle while the engine is running.

According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.62.115, "No person shall open the filling port cover of a motor vehicle fuel tank or pour gasoline into the tank of a motor vehicle at any self-service station while the engine of such vehicle is running."

Natnan Srisuwan
Natnan Srisuwan

The reasoning behind this law is twofold. First and foremost, it's a safety issue. Gasoline is highly combustible, and if even a small amount were to come into contact with a spark or open flame, it could lead to an explosion.

You Could Face A $136 Fine For Topping Off Your Gas Tank In Washington State

Second, topping off your tank can actually damage your car's fuel system by causing overflow and spillage. When this happens, gasoline can seep into your car's evaporative control system, which is designed to keep fuel vapors from escaping into the atmosphere.

If gasoline does get into your car's evaporative control system, it can cause a number of problems, including a drop in fuel economy and an increase in emissions. In some cases, it can even trigger the "check engine" light on your dash.

Photo by Dawn McDonald on Unsplash
Photo by Dawn McDonald on Unsplash

So next time you're low on gas and tempted to top off your tank, remember that it's not only dangerous, but it could also land you a pretty hefty fine. It's just not worth it!

In short, don't do it! Topping off your tank may seem like a harmless way to save a few bucks, but it's actually illegal in Washington state. A law was passed in 2020 and it'll cost you $136 if you are caught topping off your gas and causing a spill.

Not only that, but it's also dangerous and can damage your car's fuel system. So next time you're running low on gas, just pump enough to get you to the next station—it'll be much cheaper in the long run.

It does make me wonder how police can patrol such a thing but I'm sure if they really wanted to, they would find a way to ticket you. It's in your best interest to simply not do it.

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