So, you pulled into your favorite gas station and noticed there is a tanker truck filling up the underground storage tanks.
You think to yourself, “Ugh, I should have gone to the other station down the street.“
But then you start to wonder, how long does it take a tanker to fill a gas station? The answer may surprise you.
Most tanker trucks can fill a gas station’s tanks in just a few minutes. Depending on the size of the gas station, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Keep reading as I discuss different tanker sizes, how much fuel they can hold, and how quickly they can fill a gas station’s tanks.
How Long Does It Take A Tanker To Fill A Gas Station?
As I mentioned, it depends on the type and size of the tanker truck.
In the US, most top-loading tanker trucks that carry fuel have an average maximum capacity of 10,000 gallons of fuel with the ability to pump 900 to 1000 gallons a minute into an airline tank or to fill an airport or service station underground tank.
So, you’d assume, it will take a large size tanker truck around 10-12 minutes to fill a gas station.
However, that’s not always true.
Top-loading tanker trucks, as the name suggests, feature top-loading transport trailers with insulated compartments for different products.
Typically, the oil tanker trucks will have 3, 4, or 5 insulated compartments depending on the size and used to transport gasoline or other flammable liquids.
Since each compartment is kept separate, the tanker will take more time to fill a gas station as they need to connect the nozzle to each compartment and fill it up.
As a result, it takes these large tank trucks around 20-30 minutes on average to fill up a gas station.
Now, there are different sizes of tanker trucks. The smaller ones have a capacity of 5,500 gallons and can pump out around 450 gallons per minute.
So, it will take these smaller tanker trucks 12 minutes to fill a gas station.
Bottom-loading tanker trucks
Things get interesting here.
Bottom-loading tanker trucks are another type of fuel tanker truck that is used to fill up tanker trucks from the bottom. This is a faster process as the truck doesn’t need to be connected to each compartment individually.
They use a special nozzle with shut-off apparatus and vent lines that can take up to 15 minutes per compartment because of weight calculations, but the process also depends on how many nozzles are there.
For instance, if one is used for each section being loaded (say 3 compartments) and 2 in total then it would take an average 40-minute time to empty a 9,000-gallon tanker and fill up a gas station.
While bottom-loading tanker trucks are generally faster to fill a gas station and offer more options when it comes to loading or unloading fuels, they have a downside.
Well, let’s just say things get hectic fast. You need all hands on board ASAP so everyone knows what his or her job is.
What to Do When a Tanker Truck Is at a Gas Station?
If you see a tanker truck at a gas station, the first thing you should do is stay away from it.
I know it’s tempting to go and ask the driver how long it will take or to take a selfie with the big rig, but trust me, it’s not worth it. The reason is, these trucks are carrying a lot of flammable liquids.
So, please, for your safety and the safety of others, keep your distance and don’t do anything that could potentially start a fire.
The second thing you should do is find another gas station. I know it’s not always convenient, but it’s the best thing to do.
Tanker trucks need a lot of space to maneuver, and they block the gas pumps while they’re refueling.
Now, that might lead to the next question –
Should You Fill Up on Gas When a Fuel Tanker Is Present?
There’s a widespread myth that you should never fill up your tank when a tanker truck is present.
The reasoning is that you’d get gas from the bottom of the storage tank which is filled with sediments and these particles can erode your car’s engine.
While this might have been an issue in the past, it’s not something you need to worry about now.
Most modern gas stations have multiple filters working to ensure the gas you get from the pump is filtered before it even goes into the storage tank.
Moreover, your car also has a fuel filter so sediments and other particles are not an issue.
Of course, if you’re still worried about it, you can always wait for the tanker to leave before you fill up your tank.
Typically, it’s advised to wait for 30 minutes to an hour after the tanker truck has left to give the storage tank time to settle.
But, at the end of the day, it’s up to you.
How Often Do Fuel Tank Trucks Visit a Gas Station to Supply Them with Fuel?
In general, most gas stations get visited by a fuel tanker truck at least once a week.
However, the frequency of visits from a fuel tanker truck to a gas station varies. It depends on the size of the storage tank, the location of the gas station, demand, and other factors.
For example, if a gas station is located in a rural area, the tanker might come once every week or two. If it’s located in an urban area, the tanker might come multiple times a week.
Moreover, if the gas station is located near a highway, the tanker truck might come more often as there’s a higher demand for fuel.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to unload a fuel tanker?
It takes an average of 20-30 minutes to unload a 9,000-gallon tanker. However, the process can take up to 15 minutes per compartment because of weight calculations.
How does gas get to a gas station?
Gas is transported from blending terminals to gas stations by tanker trucks.
Do fuel tankers carry both fuels?
Yes, most fuel tankers can carry both gasoline and diesel as per need as they have separate insulated containers.
Why are fuel tankers oval?
Fuel tanks that are cylindrical or elliptical in shape can withstand more pressure, stay stable, and can be cleaned easily as compared to rectangular ones used for shipping other goods.
I hope this article has answered your question – how long does it take a tanker to fill a gas station?
As you can see, there are many factors that come into play. However, in general, it takes around 20-30 minutes for a tanker to fill a gas station.
So, the next time you see a gas station with a tanker truck, you’ll know approximately how long you have to wait before you can fill up your tank.
Robert Bacon is a car nerd and automotive lover who has dedicated his life to understanding the inner workings of vehicles. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering and has spent years working as a mechanic and engineer for some of the world’s top car companies. In his spare time, he enjoys writing about cars on this blog and tinkering with his 2016 Toyota Mirai in his garage.