How to Pump Gas at a Self Service Station

by Marie Murdock
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Dee Zhen/Demand Media

You probably live in a state where the full-service gas station is a distant memory. Only Oregon and New Jersey prohibit self-service gas stations, citing customer safety as the reason. Time has proven, however, that most people pump gas at self service stations without incident.

Step 1

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Choose your pump, drive up beside it and turn off the engine. Be aware of the location of your car’s fuel filler port, so that it faces the gas pump. Make sure you are close enough to the pump for the pump’s hose to easily reach the fuel filler.

Step 2

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Open the door to fuel filler, either with a switch on the inside of your car or by whatever method your model of car provides. Unscrew the gas cap and place it in a location where you will remember not to drive away without reattaching it.

Step 3

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Follow the payment instructions on the gas pump. Today, many stations allow pay-at-the-pump with a credit card, debit card or fuel gift card. If you want to pay the old-fashioned way with cash, you will likely need to go inside the station and pay before fueling. As gas prices have risen, more and more station owners have lost substantial revenue from drive-offs, or people who drive away without paying.

Step 4

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Choose a grade of gasoline and activate the pump by pushing a button or lifting a handle underneath your choice. There are generally three grades available in most states: regular, midgrade and premium. The regular unleaded gas will be the least expensive, and premium will cost the most. Some pumps have a diesel fuel option beside the gasoline. Make sure you do not put diesel fuel in a gas-powered engine. A mechanic will have to drain the tank and and the diesel could prevent the engine from starting and cause internal damage.

Step 5

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Remove the nozzle from the pump and insert it into the fuel filler opening. Pull the handle inside the nozzle upward to release the gas into your tank. The nozzle may have a trigger-lock feature that holds the handle in place while fueling to prevent having to stand and hold it. Once the tank is full, the gas pump will shut off with a click and gas will stop flowing. If you do not intend to completely fill your tank, you will have to watch the pump to see when you have reached the desired dollar amount of gasoline and then release the handle, or stop the automatic flow by pulling up on the handle to release it. Replace the nozzle back on the pump, reattach your fuel filler cap, shut the fuel filler door and you’re on the road again.

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