A Brief History of Locking Fuel Caps

For much of the history of the automobile, there haven’t been any truly significant changes. Since the creation of the Model T, the car has gone through small, incremental changes to wind up where we are today. That being said, the mechanics of operating a car are quite similar in modern vehicles as they were back then, but only slightly more sophisticated. One aspect of the modern car, however, that is entirely different than old models is the gas cap. While this component is easy to overlook or not pay attention to, modern cars have much different fuel caps than those used in the old days. Today we’ll look at the evolution of the fuel cap, culminating in the locking fuel cap used for security purposes.

Form Follows Function
For a long time, no one ever really knew what to do about capping the gas intake valve. It was seen as something that was necessary, but there wasn’t any pressing need to improve the process. The primary function of the fuel cap was just to keep out debris from getting into the fuel line, so as a result gas caps were either metal rods inserted into the valve or simple lids that held on by a hinge.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that people started to notice that gas caps needed to be updated. There were two reasons for this: environmental regulations and fuel security. During the oil crisis of the 70’s, gas rationing became a thing, so the government reacted by forcing automakers to develop gas caps that could help maximize fuel efficiency. Also, at this time gas siphoning was a major problem, so locking fuel caps were born out of necessity.

Siphoning
Modern fuel caps, help regulate the flow of vapor and air into and out of the gas tank. This improves fuel efficiency by limiting the amount of oxygen that gets into the gas, as well as preventing any leakage of vapor. Locking fuel caps operate in much the same way, but they can also prevent siphoning. Siphoning is when someone inserts a hose inside your gas tank and pulls the fuel out into a separate container. This used to be a much more widespread problem in the past when fuel prices increased, making locking fuel caps a necessity.

We’ve come a long way since the siphoning seventies, but locking fuel caps are still pretty much the same. Most are key-operated, and can be made to fit the same key, in the case of fleet vehicles needing extra security. That way, you can open each cap with the same key, instead of having to try to find the right key to the right cap. If you’re worried about your car’s safety, a locking fuel cap can be just as valuable as an alarm system.

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