8 Tips on Filling Up at the Gas Station

Man holding a gas nozzle in his hand ready to fill up the car with gas at a fuel petrol gas station

Filling up at the gas station costs a pretty penny between inflation and increased gas prices, so it’s worth the effort to learn some tricks to reduce your expenditures at the pump.

Below you’ll find a list of eight essential tips that will help you save money at the pump and have a safer experience while at the gas station.

1. Fill Up When The Ground Is Cold

The number one tip you can follow to get the most out of your gas supply when filling up is to fill up when the ground is cold, in the early morning or the evening.

A shell gas station early in the morning in Jacksonville, Florida

This is because the gasoline used in gas stations is stored underground, and if the ground is cold, the gasoline is more condensed. This means when you pump cold gas, you’re getting more bang for your buck than if you pump gas that is hot and actively evaporating from the heat as you pump it. (Source: HowStuffWorks)

2. Don’t Fill Up When Pumps Are Being Refilled

Have you ever stopped at the gas station and noticed that a gas truck was performing a refill of the tanks? Turn around and head to another gas station.

A fuel truck tanker filling up the underground tank at a gas station

When the gas tanks at the gas station are being refilled by the gas truck, this causes a lot of debris in the gas pumps to be stirred up. If you pump your gas right after the pumps are resupplied, this could cause debris to be pumped into your gas tank and fuel lines.

3. Don’t Wait Until You’re Empty to Fill Up

While many people wait until they have the E symbol flash on their gas tank to fill back up, this is not a good idea for multiple reasons (Source: Armor Insurance):

  • You could run out of gas. While the gas tank sensors for cars are increasingly more accurate, you shouldn’t depend on the gas tank sensor to let you know when you’re that close to running out of gas since you could end up stranded.
  • It causes debris in the gas tank. Waiting until the gas tank is almost empty to refill it can stir up any debris in the bottom of the gas tank, pushing it into your gas lines. This can cause ignition issues over time if the gas lines aren’t maintained.
  • It increases the evaporation of the gas in your tank. The more space in your gas tank, the more gas will evaporate away without being used by the engine.
Close up of a fuel gauge with low fuel warning light on almost out of gas needle on zero

To increase your gas efficiency at the pump, be sure to fill your gas tank up when your tank is at half full or more. This will help increase your gas mileage and can also help protect the fuel system in your car at the same time.

4. Inflate Your Tires at the Air Pump Station

You won’t have to use this tip every time filling up at the gas station, but it’s an important aspect of car maintenance to keep on top of. Cars with under-inflated cars use much more gas to operate than those whose tires are filled to an optimal level.

Close up of someone inflating a car tire at the gas station using the car tire inflator pump

Check the tire pressure on your tires at least once a month when you’re filling up your gas tank to make sure that you haven’t lost pressure. This can help you detect tire leaks before they escalate into a blowout, too. (Source: AAA)

5. Be Mindful of Static Electricity and Sparks

You might not think of the gas station as a dangerous place, but you can put your life at risk while using the pump if you don’t know how to use it correctly.

Certain situations at the gas pump can increase the presence of static electricity and can potentially cause a fire under the right environmental circumstances.

Vintage gas station no smoking sign warning hazard with a person holding a gas nozzle

Here are some tips to help keep you safe from accidental ignition while filling up at the gas station:

  • Don’t smoke or vape at the gas pump. Many people know this essential gas station rule, but plenty of people still ignore it. An open flame at a gas pump is asking for a monumental fire hazard.
  • Don’t re-enter your car. While it can be tempting to rest in the driver’s seat while filling up your gas tank, entering and exiting your car can increase the risk of transferring static electricity. Stand alongside your car and wait for it to fill to avoid unnecessary fire risks.
  • Monitor your gas pump. Gas spills can increase the risk of an accidental fire, so don’t use the auto-fill mechanism on the gas pump and keep an eye on your car as it fills to avoid spills.

Even though most people are pretty casual about visiting the gas station, using a gas pump presents a very real fire hazard to those unaware of the inherent dangers. Stay safe while pumping by avoiding situations that might introduce wild sparks

6. Inspect the Card Reader

Before placing your debit or credit card in the card reader at the gas station pump, check the reader carefully. Some scammers will install a false credit card reader over the top of the pump to try and steal credit card numbers from unwary travelers. (Source: Reader’s Digest)

A young woman using her credit card to pay for gasoline at the pump petrol fuel gas station

7. Sanitize Your Hands After Pumping

Gas station pump handles are one of those things that are difficult to sanitize but have a lot of hands-on use from hundreds of different people a day. This means using a pump handle after someone leaves you vulnerable to diseases like the flu or COVID-19.

A woman spraying alcohol disinfectant spray on her hands outdoors

After using a gas station pump, it’s a good idea to use a liquid hand sanitizer or wipe your hands down with sanitizing wipes. This can help prevent the spread of disease that might be communicated via the gas pump handle.

If you use the bathroom at the gas station while filling up, be sure to wash your hands there, too.

8. Track Your Car’s Mileage

It takes a little effort on the driver’s part, but one of the best ways to reduce your gas prices while filling up at the station is to track your car’s mileage.

Close up of a BMW instrument cluster dash odometer with the center info display showing the fuel efficiency of the MPG

On top of giving you an idea of exactly where and how far you’re driving each week, tracking your mileage can also give you an idea of what you’re being charged at different gas stations.

Car mileage can be tracked in either a memo pad or on any number of online apps like these apps at FreshBooks that allows you to track mileage on your phone.

Being Mindful Can Reduce Your Gas Bill

Gas prices are outrageous these days, but filling up at the gas station mindfully can help prevent you from getting screwed at the pump. Keeping your gas tank full and monitoring how much gas you use can go a long way towards improving your mileage and keeping your car’s fuel system healthy.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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