When the gas cap is smarter than the driver

It has been many years since I made a trip to Arizona. It has also been many years since I needed to rent a car. That was evident a couple of days ago when my gas tank was getting low, and I needed to fill up.

I pulled the rented Kia Rio painted bright yellow, which prompted me to call it my yellow submarine, into a Circle K to fill up. I stepped out and went to open the gas tank, but I couldn’t. There was no keyhole for the cap, and no groove for me to open it with.

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The gas cap with no easy access evident. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)

I looked at the dashboard to see if there was some secret button to open the cap. Nothing.

I tried pushing on one side of the cap to see if the other side popped up. No joy.

I wondered if maybe the cap was stuck, so I tried using a key to pry it open. It wouldn’t budge.

At that point, I was getting a little frustrated. Other people were rolling in, gassing up and continuing on their way while I was being punked by a rental car.

I finally decided I should call some backup and admit I am not smarter than an automobile manufacturer. I dialed my stepfather’s number, but there was no answer. Oh, what to do now?

Then I noticed something I hadn’t seen before—an O’Reilly Auto Parts next to the gas station. It was either serendipity or a very twisted mirage. It turned out to be the former.

It took the clerk all of 20 seconds to figure it out. There was a switch, but it was down by the driver-side seat. Yes, it was in the once place where I wouldn’t think to look. Then again, I later found out that new vehicles put the gas cap switch all over the place, even in the glove compartment.

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The mystery switch to open the gas cap was hiding next to the driver-side seat of the Kia Rio. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)

One of the nice things about owning your own vehicle is you know where all the bells and switches are. The driver-side seat on my Sebring has levers to adjust my seat and one switch to pop my trunk, even though I have a button on my key fob to do that. There’s no mystery to open my gas tank.

I guess it’s a good thing I’m returning to Wisconsin soon, before my car becomes a sentient being.

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The Kia Rio – a bright yellow car with a lot of secrets. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)
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