How to Unlock a Fuel Door

by Josh Baum

Since fuel is always a valuable commodity, many auto manufacturers have addressed the needs of their customers by installing locking fuel doors as an anti-theft device. But if you're unfamiliar with the locking mechanism on the car you're driving, you may face a frustrating ordeal trying to get it open. Fortunately, most auto manufacturers stick to a limited number of fuel door locking mechanisms, and you can likely find the one on your car by searching in a few key places.

Consult the vehicle's owner's manual, if it is handy, to see if there are fuel door unlocking instructions specific to your car. This is the most accurate and reliable source for information on your specific vehicle.

Examine the fuel door from the outside. If it has a keyhole in it, try to insert the ignition key and use it to open the door. If this does not work or if there is no keyhole, proceed to the next step.

Try pushing in on either side of the fuel door. Some fuel doors are not actually locking fuel doors, but have the appearance of locking fuel doors because they lack the small indentation, allowing you to flip the fuel door open by hand. These fuel doors are opened by pushing in on the hinged side rather than by pulling out on the open side. If this does not work, proceed to the next step.

Check the electronic remote key fob, if you have one. Look for a button marked with words or a symbol that may indicate the fuel door and try it if you find it. If that doesn't work, try unlocking all the car doors with the key fob and then opening the fuel door by hand. If this does not work, proceed to the next step.

Check the passenger compartment for a fuel door release lever. If there is such a lever in your car, its location will be in the owner's manual. If you have to find it without the manual, the likely locations include the dashboard, the lower portions of the dashboard around the driver's seat, the floor between the driver's seat and the door, the inside of the glove compartment and the inside of the center console.

Consult the service department of the nearest dealer for your vehicle's make if you still cannot unlock the fuel door. They should be able to tell you the proper procedure and may even be able to offer you vehicle-specific tips on getting it open. If you determine through this process that your locked fuel door is a result of a malfunction, you may also be able to make a service appointment with them to get it fixed.

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