An open letter to Nissan about UX

Disclaimer: First and foremost let me be clear, this isn’t an attempt to bash on a specific company, far from this. In fact, I think that it could potentially be applied to other companies as well, I just happened to experience this specific situation with a Nissan car, and I wanted to submit a suggestion about it.

To put everything quickly in context, I own a Nissan Pathfinder, and had to have some important work done on it, so after dropping the SUV at the dealership, they provided me with a courtesy car, a Nissan Altima (I don’t know the year).

I was about to return the car, 2 days later, but first I needed to go fill it up with gas. I then asked myself the same question everybody ask every time they are driving a rental or a friend’s car: “What side is the gas tank?”. Let’s face it, not knowing can result into a painful and unpleasant experience.

So here I was pulling in the gas station complex, when I remembered an article on some sort of life hacks, stating that if you look at the little gas icon, the side that the handle is on is the side of where your gas tank is located.

Gas dashboard of a Volkswagen Jetta, where the icon seems to hint at you that the gas tank is on the right of the vehicle.

Here I am into that complex, having that thought, being impressed with myself for remembering that fact, read out of nowhere, before getting to the actual pump, interpreting the icon: “Ok! Gas tank is on the right”, and then making that turn into pump #6.

You probably know where this is going by now, and will be correct in assuming that yes, the gas tank wasn’t on the right, it was on the left.

I get back in the car, make a u-turn around the pumps, and wait in line behind another car that just got there after me, blocking now the pump I needed to use.

Then Immediately started thinking: “Is it just a mistake on that single car, or car line (Altima’s), or is the whole Nissan’s car lines? Because that icon handle point to the proper side in my mother-in-law’s Jetta. I will write to Nissan and point it out to them, they will be so impressed, they’ll want to hire me, than also thank me with a brand new car, and…” (I started riding a wave of creative absurdness halfway through that thought, I do that sometimes).

Well everyone, you can now thank me and my super long investigation (3 google keywords, hit enter, click on the most relevant link), to learn that:

FALSE: The placement of the pump handle on a dashboard gas pump icon indicates which side a vehicle’s fuel door is on.
TRUE: A triangle-shaped arrow indicator adjacent to a dashboard gas pump icon indicates which side a vehicle’s fuel door is on.

A couple of days after getting my Pathfinder back from the dealership, and having looked up the facts, I was waiting at a red light, and then thought about that whole gas icon situation, looked down, and found a white arrow, pointing diligently to the left, where my gas tank is located.

Why would the UX on an older car, of something so simple that solves a problem encountered by people every day, is not carried over into every car of that brand? Slight mistake from the design team or conscious decision that could perhaps be found somewhere? I’m just a curious mind.

P.S. On a OCD side note, why would Volkswagen gas tank would state 0, 1/2 and 1 to represent the gas level. I either would want to see 0, 1/2 and 1 or 0/1, 1/2 and 1/1. I think the first series of numbers feel better in my opinion, but why not stay consistent with the way displaying them.

cc: Nissan Motor Corporation

Like what you read? Give Kevin Bedard a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.