Well, today I managed to lock myself out of the gas tank on the Impala right after filling it. Somehow I dropped the tiny key on the ground. Though an advocate for locking gas caps, there are a couple of thoughts that I wanted to pass along in hopes that it might save the readers some of the worry and frustration experienced today.
It seems like only a few companies manufacture locking gas caps; often only one brand is carried by a retailer. Of that brand, there are usually two or more choices depending on your car’s cars engine size and if it can run on E-85 fuel (85% alcohol). For flexible fuel cars, a fuel filler cap with a different seal is needed because the conventional black rubber fuel cap gaskets are damaged by the higher ethanol content of E-85, if you choose to burn it regularly. If you only run the normal gasoline grades (85 through about 93 octane or so), it is not a problem, even if using gas with 10% alcohol – the fuel commonly known as “gasohol”. If buying a gas cap, I would tell the parts person that you don’t want the E-85 option. It usually costs somewhat more and may be unnecessary.
That’s just my two cents – I used to work at a couple of auto parts stores but that still doesn’t mean that I know shi* from apple butter.
One more time, which one was the apple butter????
The biggest pet peeve with the last locking gas cap was that it used keys with plastic tops like you see in the picture below. They are apparently sold as “Murray” or “CTS” brands. The pictures of those two brands look identical.
Eventually keys get twisted around, sat on, etc. and the plastic snaps off at the top, causing the key to no longer stay on the key ring. For this reason, I was carrying the key in the door pocket and managed to lose it – twice. Loose keys = lost keys. It’s just a matter of time.
Thankfully, it was easy to break into the CTS brand locking gas cap. I simply inserted a STRONG flat blade screwdriver into the lock slot and rotated it clockwise while holding the cap in place. (Don’t use a dollar store screwdriver or you might break it!) A fair amount of torque was needed.
The cheap plastic lock snapped and the cap was easily removed. Some sites on the Internet recommend having a locksmith assist with removal. Well, that’s not always feasible… If you break into your gas cap this way, do it at your own risk! It only took ten seconds and saved some money but I cannot recommend this method.
Below is the Stant locking gas cap with all metal keys. I am much happier with this model. It’s the same as what I put on the Trekker Van last April. In case of key loss, one of the two gas keys is always on a hook in the van.
I had to surf around for this one, not finding it at Auto Zone or O’Reillys. I found it at Advance Auto Parts. The prices between stores were all within a dollar or two. Someone told me that the local Wal-Mart also carries Stant but the selection was limited.
For some people, the CTS or Murray gas caps would work just fine but I feel strongly that the Stant is superior for my needs. I guess if I carried the keys in a fanny pack or purse it wouldn’t be an issue but for a big guy in Carhartts, it’s easy to snap the cheap plastic-tabbed keys.