UAE temperature crosses 50°C: Can a full gas tank in your car explode due to summer heat?

Motorists are advised to turn off their vehicle engines when refuelling and put car in 'park' or 'first gear' mode


Angel Tesorero

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AFP file photo
AFP file photo

Published: Tue 18 Jul 2023, 4:35 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 May 2024, 9:10 AM

As temperatures in the UAE soar, health experts advise residents to take all necessary precautions from the scorching summer heat, which has recently crossed the 50°C-mark. With the rise in mercury, rumours regarding certain preventive measures are also heating up, including one which advises motorists not to fill the car's fuel tank as this may cause heat build-up resulting in a tank explosion. Another one says drivers must open the tank at least once daily for the hot air to evaporate.

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“There's no truth behind these ominous warnings,” a road safety expert has categorically told Khaleej Times, and added: “These are old tales that often pop up on social media, especially during summer.”

Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of Road Safety UAE, noted: “Vehicle manufacturers and experts have taken into account ambient temperature conditions and performance requirements while designing the automobiles.

According to experts, outside temperature would need to be well over 250°C to pose a risk. That means the heat should be 2.5 times over the 100°C boiling point for water.

Edelmann said, "Vehicle manufacturers have designed and built cars and all components – such as fuel tank – to operate in all climate conditions and they were tested to extreme weather, including hot and cold. Fuel systems were designed to cope with any expansion of fuel, or vapour coming from the petrol."

Go full tank

On the contrary, Edelmann underscored, “Drivers are advised to ensure there's enough fuel in the tank to avoid breaking down, as getting stranded in the hot UAE summer is markedly more dangerous."

Motorists can fill their tanks up to the automatic cut-off as detected by the sensor in the fuel nozzle. Filling the tank would also indirectly increase the mileage in petrol because of less evaporation within the tank, particularly in motorcycles.

“Switching off your engine at the petrol station when filling up the tank is a no-brainer,” added Edelmann. "And the smart thing to do is to ignore fake news and focus on staying safe, healthy and hydrated to enjoy road trips during summer."

Here are the other safety tips motorists must follow at petrol stations:

  • Turn off your vehicle’s engine when refuelling. Put your vehicle in park (automatic) or first gear (manual) and/or use the hand brake.
  • Don’t smoke, light matches or use lighters while refuelling – not even inside the car
  • Don’t use mobile phones
  • To avoid static electric charge, do not get in and out of your vehicle. If you must get into the vehicle during refuelling, discharge any static electricity by touching metal.
  • Petrol fumes are highly toxic – stay in your car and keep the windows closed
  • Keep kids inside the car.
  • Start the car only after refuelling
  • Stay away in safe distance when tankers fill the station’s underground tanks
  • Use only approved portable containers for transporting or storing gasoline. Make sure the container is in a stable position.
  • If you walk to the convenience store, car wash, garage or other shops at the filling station, watch out for moving vehicles


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