GM’s 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan is the latest with the capless fuel-filler that’s gaining popularity.
XTS, coming this spring and powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 with all-wheel drive, makes GM the third automaker to adopt a fuel-filler without the traditional gas cap. It follows Ford, which pioneered the feature on the 2009 Explorer and has moved it onto many models.
While easy to regard as the answer to a question nobody asked, capless fueling has some interesting attributes, most of them good, but not all:
- Less chance for gas smell on your hands. You simply flip open the fuel door and stick the pump nozzle in. Not having a twist-on/off cap is one less contact with a gasoline-vapor odor source.
- No worries about paint scratching from the dangling gas cap, which manages never, ever to fit properly into whatever holder or restraint the automaker provides to keep it out of the way during fueling.
- No embarrassing cap-dangle that’s a result of driving off in a hurry and forgetting to put the cap back on.
- Minimal chance of bad guys siphoning out your $4 gas. Capless systems use various mechanisms in the fuel-filler neck that make it nearly impossible to stuff in a garden hose and drain a victim’s tank.
- No more discomfort for people with arthritis or other impairments that make the act of twisting a cap awkward or painful.
But there are drawbacks.
- While limiting the fuel smell that gets on your hands, capless systems can increase the gas smell coming from the vehicle. If you try to fill the tank even a little bit more after the gas station pump clicks off, you’re likely to get headache-level fuel fumes pouring from the area of the filler neck until you drive awhile. Don’t even consider over-filling the tank and driving right home to park in your garage.
- The same anti-siphon feature means you have to carry the (automaker-provided) special funnel for times you run dry and need to refuel from a gas can instead of a pump. Afterward, the funnel smells like gas and you can smell it even in the trunk.
- What if you need to siphon gas for an emergency? Like, say, you live in Virginia where you might get the occasional 54-inch snow and can’t get to the gas station to buy fuel for your emergency home generator and really, truly wish you could drain some gas from your car or truck tank to use in the generator to keep the power on? Or, perhaps, you might like to help a stranded driver with a gallon or two but can’t, even if you happen to have a hose.