Rules for Gas Station Etiquette

gas station pump reach

Gas station etiquette should be discussed more. In an effort to raise awareness for the proper actions to take while filling your car with fuel, I’m having awareness bracelets made.

No. I’m really not.

But I am devoting this blog space today to appropriate gas station decency. Want to get the most out of each trip to the gas station? Want to know how to avoid flaring tempers? Want to know how to handle lines?

Read on, friends.

I remember a time at a gas station a couple years ago when I nearly got beaten up when I slipped into an open pump ahead of a waiting car. I maintain that I didn’t do anything wrong, even though the fired-up old man said my actions could very well have resulted in my death.

Yeah—a bit over-dramatic, if you ask me.

As far as I’m concerned, if there’s an open pump and no one looks even remotely interested in using it, it’s fair game regardless of lines elsewhere at the station. Let’s make that a rule.

That leads me to the topic of gas filler locations on vehicles. Since there are no standardized locations for gas fillers, sometimes the filler is on the right and sometimes it’s on the left. If you’re like me, you’ve pulled up to the pump, more than once, only to realize your filler is on the other side. It’s a humbling moment when you have to get back into your car and pull around to another pump.

Instead of the Reposition of Shame, is it okay to stretch the gas nozzle all the way from the pump, across the rear of your car, to reach the filler?

Not only is this okay, I encourage it. Why be limited by the location of your gas filler? Henceforth, let’s embrace what shall be known as “pump reach.”

Finally, it’s in your best interest to adhere to the limits set by the automatic shut-off. When the pump stops filling up your car, your tank is full. Trying to squeeze out every last drop and fill every square centimeter with fuel only wastes money. Don’t do it.

So let’s review:

If there’s an open pump, it’s your pump.

If the hose reaches your filler, don’t move your car.

Don’t top off your tank.

Follow these rules and enjoy a stress-free, money-saving trip to the gas station, every time!

Have you ever had a bad experience at a gas station?


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  1. In my area the pumps don’t reach around the cars anymore. I thought they stop making that stretch around the car?

  2. At Burnsville Costco there are 3 pumps in each line. I was sandwiched in the middle and just getting back in my car when an SUV pulled around me to use the front pump. It started backing up as I was trying to leave. I honked and it stopped backing up so I could finish leaving. But really!! I always assess where the people in line are at in their pumping before I decide to drive around someone or just wait a minute for them to finish up.

  3. Adding to Lazaro Villarreal’s 5th rule::

    5. Pump and go, don’t sit in your vehicle texting or talking on your phone. AND do not pump your gas, then leave your car at the pump while you go inside the gas station’s convenience store or take a restroom break. Instead, refuel your car and then free up the pump by moving it to a parking space, then go inside the store.

  4. I have to wait nearly every time I fill with diesel for the person filling with gasoline to finish (and typically several other gasoline only pumps are available to use). Even before I bought a diesel car, I knew that it was inconsiderate to use a pump that had both gasoline and diesel, when there were other gasoline only pumps available.

  5. I completely disagree with the stretching of the pumps… not all service stations have hoses designed like that, and pulling them out of their zone risks the connectors breaking and causing a fuel spill… simply memorise where your fuel entry is, or use the indicator in the interior of your car…or simply pop the panel and check where it is through your mirrors.

  6. What about asking for service and paying at the store cashier when there is a line of customers buying groceries?
    I think you should be able to give the money to the cashier and tell him the pump number right away, or after the other gas buying customers in front of you have done the same, regardless is there is another line of customers only buying groceries, but maybe some people may take offense on that.

    • This is not a very polite way, and may come across as rude, a Cashiers main job at the fuel station is to serve every customer, fuel or groceries… cutting in line and handing someone many and saying a number will just cause confusion if there is a customer rush… simply be patient, and wait til its your turn… take this from someone who works in a fuel station.

  7. Drive at the gas station just as you would (or make that SHOULD) drive on the roadways.
    1) NEVER drive into opposing traffic, AND 2) the line forms at the rear.
    This means you should file in line BEHIND the car already using the pump you’ve chosen.
    example: If you want to buy a ticket to see a movie, do you get in line on opposite side of the ticket counter and expect to cut everyone already in correct line formation off in hopes of the theater employee turning around to sell you a ticket on the opposite side? No, you get in line BEHIND the people who are already in line.
    So, good rule of thumb at the gas station: If you’re not looking at someone’s rear taillights and license plate, then you’re going the WRONG WAY. Just be smart and drive as you should on the roadways.

  8. You NEVER pull into a pump when in ANY WAY it inconveniences the person that was there prior to you! You also need to make sure and pull forward and n such a manner that you allow the next person to pull in BEHIND you to get gas without waiting on you!

  9. How about Don’t back into a pump when there are plenty of pumps open that give you easy access to the side your tank is actually on, just because you want that particular pump and no other pump will do.

  10. 1. Turn your engine off when fueling up.
    2. If you need to go back into your car, discharge your static electricity.
    3. If you take the empty pump in the front, park in a manner that the member behind you can pull out.
    4. Pull up to the front pump.
    5. Pump and go , don’t sit in your vehicle texting or talking on your phone.
    6. Traffic flows in on direction.
    7. Don’t back up and reverse , turn around and drive into on coming traffic.
    8. Fill only gas approved containers and only on the ground.
    9. Never smoke at the gas station , even when in your vehicle.
    10. Never top of to avoid spills, and be aware when filling up also to avoid spills.

  11. I disagree. When there’s only one pump with the green handle (diesel), and plenty others open – please refrain from taking that one. No one understands that until they drive a diesel.

    • Yeah, but by the same token, don’t be that d-bag in a diesel yelling at someone for using the diesel/gas bay when the rest are full. Literally seen that happen.

      • I had an experience one where there was an empty gas station, so tons of places to pump; well I pull into a space and turn off my car. I dig into my wallet for money and someone suddenly starts honking, and I look around making sure I didn’t hit anything. Well an older man pulls up to my car angrily stares as if I needed to take a hint, and I just wave my hand that there is a spot in front of me. He actually wanted me to turn my car back on and move forward so he could have my spot. Again all other spots still open, and my car is off; he eventually goes in front of me; I go inside to pay and as we are both pumping he is angrily staring at me. I swear you could see his veins popping out, was that wrong of me; or in-correct etiquette on my part? I mean all the other spots were open and my car was clearly off; I had arrived a second before him and was just getting my money not taking my sweet time.

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