How to Pump Gas at a Self Service Station

by Marie MurdockUpdated August 15, 2023
itstillruns article image
Dee Zhen/Demand Media

Navigating the Transition from Full-Service to Self-Service Gas Stations

In the vast majority of American states, the concept of full-service gas stations has become a nostalgic memory. Notably, Oregon and New Jersey stand out as exceptions, as they traditionally prohibited self-serve stations. They've maintained this rule under the banner of customer safety, specifically citing potential fire hazards. However, as time has evolved, many have found that pumping their own gas in self-service gas stations is largely incident-free.

How to Pump Gas like a Pro

Drive up to your chosen pump and ensure your engine is off. Remember the exact position of your car’s fuel filler port to align it correctly with the gas pump. Ensure the pump nozzle can effortlessly reach the gas tank.

Access your fuel filler compartment. Depending on the automotive model, you might use a switch from inside your car or other methods. Open the gas cap and set it aside safely, so you won’t forget to put it back.

Paying has become much easier over time. Many gas stations, even outside of hubs like California, New York, and Portland, now provide pay-at-the-pump options. Motorists can use a credit card, debit card, or a fuel gift card directly at the fuel pumps. However, if you're feeling traditional or visiting older convenience stores, you might need to step inside and pay with cash first. This method became increasingly popular due to gas station owners combating drive-offs or instances where people leave without settling their dues.

Choose the gasoline grade suitable for your vehicle. Most stations offer three grades – regular, mid-grade, and premium. While regular unleaded gas is the most affordable, premium comes at a higher price. Some stations also provide a diesel fuel option. It's crucial not to mistakenly fill a gas-powered engine with diesel, as it could necessitate a visit to a mechanic and potentially cause engine damage.

Engage the pump nozzle into the fuel tank. Initiate the flow by pulling the handle inside the nozzle. Many nozzles have a trigger-lock feature that maintains the flow, allowing you to free up your hands. Once your tank is filled or reaches your set amount, the pump will automatically shut off. After ensuring the gas cap is securely placed, you're ready to hit the road!

Reflecting on Full-Service Stations

Historically, states like Oregon were adamant about maintaining full-service gas stations. Oregonians cited safety concerns as the driving force behind this. However, as self-serve gas stations proliferate across states and even enter places like Washington, the paradigm is slowly shifting.

One reason for this change is the recognition of the safety measures installed in modern pumps and the training provided to gas station attendants. While Oregon was the only state to maintain this practice for a long time, self-serve options have been gradually introduced, marking a significant transition in the American fueling experience.

Whether it's your first time or you're an experienced motorist, ensure to always prioritize safety and be aware of the regulations in each state.

Expert Video

Helpful comments from the video:

  • Congrats to everyone who just got their liscence watching this because drivers ed didn’t teach us how to pump gas (:
  • thank you so much!! I’m a new driver and so nervous I’ll mess something up at the gas station!

More Articles

article divider