Proper Etiquette for Filling Up Your Gas Tank

Misc - Pumping Gas
If you’re already a pro at filling up your own gas tank, you’re probably wondering “Who doesn’t know how to pump their own gas?” The fact is, there are some states – like Oregon and New Jersey – where it’s actually illegal for you to pump your own gas. Some nutty rules about lowering gas station insurance costs and ideas about creating jobs instead of eliminating them by letting you do your own pumping. Regardless, if you’re someone who comes from one of these states and you’ve never actually had the pleasure of taking the DIY approach to filling up your tank, you might be a little unsure how to go about it. Here’s an easy 8-step method that will help you adapt to the self-serve ways of the “other 48.”
  • We’re assuming you already know how to pull up to a gas pump, and that you’ve already familiar with which side of your car your tank is on. Hint: if you’re ever driving along and you suddenly forget which side, simply look at the gas gauge on your dashboard. The image of a gas pump and an arrow will be your visual guide.
  • Turn off your engine. Depending on how the gas station is set up, you may be able to pay at the pump by swiping your credit or debit card. If so, swipe away. Otherwise, you may have to pay the gas station cashier directly before you can pump. Either way, most gas stations these days don’t let you pump first and pay later. They’d rather have the money now, thank you very much.
  • Once your payment has been accepted, open your gas tank lid and unscrew the cap. If your gas cap doesn’t have a plastic attachment to prevent it from getting lost, find an obvious place to set your gas cap down so you don’t drive off without it. If you do, you could end up spilling gas as you drive.
  • Remove the nozzle from the gas pump, always being sure to point the business end away from you. Never squeeze the handle until you’re ready for the gas to start flowing. Insert the nozzle firmly into your gas tank. The nozzle should catch and allow you to let it rest there while you follow the next step.
  • Select your grade of fuel – regular unleaded, mid-grade unleaded, super unleaded, diesel – by pressing the large button on the front of the gas pump. Wait until the gas pump indicates it’s ready to pump before you begin. You’ll usually be able to tell when you see the dollars pumped indicator reset to zero.
  • Keeping a hand on the nozzle that’s been inserted into your tank to steady it, squeeze the handle and begin pumping. Always look to see if there’s any gas spilling. If so, you might not have the nozzle inserted properly. Stop pumping and try lifting the nozzle a bit until it fits firmly.
  • Once your gas tank is full, the pump will automatically stop pumping gas. At this point, remove the nozzle and hang it back into place on the gas pump. Don’t continue filling up. This is called “topping off” and it’s ill advised for a variety of reasons, including environmental and safety.
  • Screw your gas cap back on, close your gas tank lid, and wait for your receipt to print out from the pump. Then be on your merry way!
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