Ford Focus vs Gas Pump

Last week, I was in Chicago for work. Since my meetings were out in the suburbs, I had to rent a car, a Ford Focus. For most of that trip, I was glad to have it. It’s a small car, so fitting into tiny little spaces was much easier than it could have been. Everything was great, until I was headed back to the airport and stopped at a gas station to fill up. As I opened the door to the tank, I noticed that there was no gas cap. It said “Easy Fuel”. Okay, I thought. That’s nice of them to not make me fool with a gas cap and get my hand all dirty. I stuck the nozzle in the tank, and pressed the lever. It went for about two seconds, and stopped. I pressed it again; two seconds and stopped. At this point, I start to get concerned, because there wasn’t really time to mess with a malfunctioning gas pump. But I try again. Two seconds and stop. Two seconds and stop. Sigh.

After a few more tries, I notice a pool of liquid spreading under my car. Crap. The gas station attendant runs out, yelling, “You have a leak in your tank! Stop, stop!!” A leak? CRAP. He comes over to inspect the “Easy Fuel” hole for the nozzle. He points to the small print that says the fuel type (something about 10-85, I don’t know what that means) and says, “Oh, this car doesn’t take normal gas.”  Three other people come out to look at the car and figure out what’s going on, and the general consensus is that I can’t fill up the car. Cue Road Warriorette meltdown in 3….2….1…..

My thoughts ping-ponged around as I get back on the highway and head toward O’Hare.  It doesn’t take normal gas and no one told me before I drove off the rental car lot?? My company is not going to pay for the $10/gallon gas at Budget, and I am going to have to eat that. I am going to have to confront someone about this, and I hate confrontation. Will I even make my flight at this point? Then I notice that the gas gauge has moved up, and I really start freaking out. If this car isn’t supposed to take normal gas, and I managed to get some in the tank, am I going to ruin the car and stall out on the highway? Uuuuuuuggggghhhhhhhhh.

As I drive, I simultaneously pray that the car doesn’t break down and plan my conversation with the agent at Budget. Of course, it did not go at all the way I thought it would. When I told her what the gas station guy told me, she laughed.  “Of course it takes normal gas!” she said. My response: “When I put the nozzle in there and tried to fill it up, gas spilled all over the ground.” She stopped laughing, and went off to find a manager. After waiting for a manager for like ten minutes, she came out of the back office and refunded the money they charged me for gas tank fill up.

All’s well that ends well right? I guess that’s true, except that dealing with this process took so long I almost missed my flight. It was in final boarding when I finally sprinted up to the gate, and boarded fifth to last. Then I had a cookie, because I really think I deserved it after all of that. But I never did find out what the problem with the car was…..


  1. Perhaps the fuel economy of the car and a short driving distance meant you only needed to put a small amount of gas in and the subsequent dripping fuel was the overflow of a full tank. E-85 is probably what you saw, meaning that the car could be filled up with an ethanol fuel blend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.