How Does Self Service Gas Station Work? – Pros and Cons

Every internal combustion-powered vehicle needs fuels to take us from point A to point B. We should make sure that we get the right fuel in a gas station – be it the trendy self-service gas station or the traditional full-service gas station. So, whichever gas station you get your gas from is okay. So far, it is the recommended gas for your car.

However, we’ll discuss the self-service gas stop at length. To make a clearer impression, the difference between full-service and self-service gas stations must be focused on in-depth. In addition, a brief self-service gas station history will not only enrich you as a car owner but knowing the origin will also help you vote for the better fuel refilling option. But first, let’s get clear about what a self-service gas station is, anyway.

self service gas station sign

Read Also: Can You Mix Ethanol and Non-ethanol Gas in Car?

What is a self-service gas station?

A self-service gas station is a gas station where customers serve themselves, paying before they pump gas into their vehicles. This type of gas station is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. There are several advantages to this trendy gas pump.

They are usually cheaper than full-service gas stations, and customers can save time by not having to wait for an attendant. In addition, customers can choose their gas grade and pump amount without having to communicate this information to an attendant.

Let’s see a brief history of the self-service gas stations. Without it, we may not grab a full glimpse of what self-service gas stations are.

The self-service gas stop came into existence only after Henry Ford’s affordable cars flooded the road because more people were able to own a car. More cars do not only mean more demand for fuel filling stations, but it is more convenient as it triggers more filling gas stations to grow.

Before this, the first places to get gasoline were pharmacies. Motorists will buy gasoline in cans and fill up their cars.

Sylvanus’s browser really changed things when he invented kerosine pumps. The invention streamlined the process of gas fuel and made filling gas much faster. The more we buy cars and travel from point A to point B, the more we see gas stations on the road.

While both full-service and self-service gas stations tend to help us to get fuel faster without queuing in lines, some states ban the self-service options. For example, self-service gas stations in new jersey and Oregon self-serve gas stations are illegal.

Read Also: How Long Does Ethanol Free Gas Last?

How do you use a self-service gas station?

Self-service gas stops are increasing across the cities because they make it easier to get fuel without queuing in lines. However, knowing how to use a self-service gas station is a time saver.

This section explains how to operate the pump safely, select the right fuel for your car, and continue your journey without hustling in simplified steps.

Locate available gas stations

Locate and drive to the available gas station and park the vehicle close to the gas pump. Ensure you face the gas cover close to the filling station gas pump. Turn off your engine. It is dangerous to pump the gas while your engine is running.

Ensure you’re at the right pump. Do not pump diesel into your gas tank if you have a gasoline engine. Some gas pumps have both diesel and gasoline. These kinds of pumps will have two nozzles.

Select your mode of payment

Self-service is not free. You have to pay like the full-service gas stations. Select your mode of payment and proceed. If you want to pay with your debit card, slide your credit/debit card and follow the instructions.

The machine will prompt you to input the amount of fuel you want to buy. For instance, if you input $15, the pump will stop pumping once it pumps that gas worth this amount.

The next option is to pre-pay inside. With this option, you can decide to pay with cash or a card. You’ll go inside and pay the attendant and tell him the pump you parked your car and how much you want to buy. The amount you paid will reflect on the pump. If you’re going to fill your gas tank to the brim, you can overpay them and go inside to collect your balance later on.

Insert the gas nozzle into your gas tank

Remove your gas cover and insert the gas nozzle into your gas tank. Depending on the car model, you’ll have to open the gas door inside the cabin or just pop the gas cover with your finger.

After opening the gas cover, insert the nozzle into your gas tank and select the fuel type. Some machines will not allow you to choose the fuel type until you snug the nozzle into your car.

If the filling station pump has two nozzles, note that one is diesel and the other is regular fuel. The diesel nozzle is usually larger than the regular and colored green and will not enter a regular gas tank.

Select the appropriate grade

Most gas pumps will have different fuel grades based on their octane rating. Select the appropriate one for your car. Check the owner’s booklet if you don’t know the correct rating for your vehicle. Regular and mid-grade gasoline is the most common for most cars.

Next, select the corresponding button on the pump to make your selection. Usually, each gas grade will have a button to click. Click the button to choose your fuel grade.

Pump the gasoline

Pull the trigger to activate the pump. Most pumps will allow you to lock the trigger to allow the fuel to flow easily on your hand. The pump will stop once you get to the amount you entered. Once the pump is completed, remove the nozzle and return the pump to where you removed it earlier.

After that, close your gas cover and twist it very well. At this juncture, the gas pump will be beeping. Finally, you can accept or decline the receipt to complete the transaction.

Pros and cons of self-service gas station

While self-service gas stations in Oregon and new jersey are illegal, other states approve it. These states have arguments why they should or should not approve gas self-served. Their reasons show the pros and cons of self-service gas stations. Let’s look at them.

Read Also: Diesel vs. Gas: What is the Difference?


  • Gasoline is cheaper at self-service gas stations.
  • Self-serving fuels make it convenient for more drivers
  • Self-serving fuels are the norm in all states except new jersey and Oregon.


  • It discriminates against physically challenged persons.
  • Full-service gas stations eliminate some dangers.

How to find a self-service gas station

Self-service gas stations are literally everywhere in the states except New Jersey and Oregon. The rest 48 states are self-service gas station states. Self serves are everywhere in the 48 states, but if you can’t find anyone at your precise location, search “self-service gas stations near me” on your google map. The map will show you the nearby self-serves around your current location.

Alternatively, you can also search for “gas stations that pump gas for you near me.” Google map will project the available self serves stations.

What’s the difference between full service and self-service?

ull-service and self-service gas stations

Both full-service and self-service gas stations have the same functions and purpose. The main difference between them is that the full-service gas station has a pump attendant at each pump, while the self-service one has no pump attendant. By this, the driver will have to pull the pump nozzle and refuel the car by himself when refilling at a self-service gas station.

Yes, there are attendants in self-service gas stations, but they do not handle the pump. Instead, they only assist in cash processes and other formalities.

Another difference is that the self-service gas stations are a bit cheaper than the full gas stations across the states in America, where it is legal.

Read Also: What Color Is Gasoline? Every Thing you should know.


Q: Can you self-serve gas in New Jersey?

Americans have experimented with self-service gas pumps since their invention in the early 1900s. Yet, full-service gas stations have been the primary pumps in the gas stations until 1980.

So far in New Jersey involves; it has been illegal to self-serve gas in New Jersey since 1949. As a result, you cannot self-serve in the state in question. Oregon adds to the line as drivers have been barred from pumping their gas tanks there since 1951.

Q: Why does New Jersey not allow self-service gas?

Fire hazards are the primary reason why New Jersey has banned self-service gas stations since 1949. The lawmakers said it is in the public interest for pump attendants to pump fuel because they will comply with safety measures when fueling cars, including shutting down the vehicle engine before pumping gas and preventing smoking when dispensing fuel.

Other reasons include insurance factors, to help cashiers, gas fumes, maintenance checks, public welfare, no cost disparity observed, and vehicle repairs.

Q: What is the penalty for pumping your own gas in NJ?

Motorists who break the 1949 statute for self-service gas pumps will be penalized $500. So if you think the gas price at full-service stations is high, try self-serving yourself in New Jersey and get caught. Just joking.

Q: When did self-service gas stations become popular?

The self-service gas stations doubled by 30% a year between 1975 to 1977, and it broke out by 50% a year later to overtake full-service gas stations. Within this period, truck stops start converting their full-service diesel pumps to self-served ones.

Q: How can I pay for gas without a card?

As explained earlier, you can pay for gas without a card at the gas stations. At full-service gas stations, you will pay the pump attendant cash and have them fill your gas tank. And if you want to fuel your baby ride at a self-serve gas station without a card, park your mob at your desired pump and meet the attendant inside.

The attendant will collect cash or may accept other payment methods like google pay or Samsung pay. Kindly note that it may be difficult to see a station that will accept Samsung pay. Therefore, a mobile transfer, google pay, and cash or preferred alternatives are the answers.

Q: Is it illegal to pump your own gas in California?

Full-service gas stations play safety consciousness over the self-served alternatives, as inexperienced motorists can overfill their gas tanks and cause fire outbreaks. This leads to bans on self-service gas stations in New Jersey and Oregon.

Regardless of the argument on fire hazards, most states, including California, still permit self-service gas stations.

Final Words

Self-service gas stations are prevalent in most states in America. They are much like full-service gas stations with a less fuel price. If you’re wondering, what happened to full-service gas stations?

They are still existing in some states, including New Jersey and Oregon. Self-serves gas stations overshadowed the full service after the two fuel shortages in the 1970s. That was during the two periods of fuel shortages in 1973 and 1979, which caused higher fuel prices. That leads to a permanent closure of most full-service stations as consumers search for price relief.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts