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Right side's all wrong for gas cap, driver says

| Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010

Q: Why in the world are American car manufacturers now putting the gas cap on the wrong side of the car• What was wrong with the driver's side, where it belongs• I can understand European cars not locating the cap on the left because they drive on the left side of the road.

-- Fred Kleppsattel, Orlando, Fla.

A: Fred, drivers have been asking that question for decades. The central reason the filler locations are where they are is mostly packaging. The engine configuration, which often dictates which is the easiest side to route the exhaust system down, sometimes means there's room available on the other side of the car for the fuel tank.

The past four test cars I've had were from four separate places -- a Korean car (gas cap on the driver's side), European (passenger side), Japanese (driver's side) and American (passenger side).

Years ago, I did a reader survey on the topic, and most preferred the cap on the driver's side -- it's easier to get to, and when you are pulling up next to the pumps, which may be protected by posts or bars that are below the driver's sight line, it's easier when those barriers are on the driver's side.

Q: On a TV show about cars, the host referred to what I think was a "bot dot." Is there such a thing, and if so, what is it?

-- Bart, Clermont, Fla.

A: That would be "Botts' dots," the little round markers glued to the road, usually on top of a painted line, that tell drivers they are straying outside their lane. They are named (and no, I'm not making this up) for the inventor, transportation engineer Elbert Botts, who died in 1962.

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