How to refuel: 12 steps (with pictures)

How to refuel: 12 steps (with pictures)
How to refuel: 12 steps (with pictures)

Service stations with pump attendants are increasingly rare. Self-service can save you time and money, but it does require you knowing how to fill your tank properly. You need to learn how to operate the gas pump, choose the right fuel and refuel to get back on the road as quickly as possible.


Part 1 of 3: pay for gasoline

Pump Your Own Gas Step 1

Step 1. Stop at the pump and turn off your engine

Stop so that the opening of your reservoir is as close as possible to the pump. Check which side of the car your tank is on before choosing a pump. It can be dangerous to refuel when the car is in motion. So switch off the engine and get out of your vehicle.

  • Make sure you are at the right pump. Some gasoline pumps are only intended for vehicles with diesel engines, others only for gasoline engines and some do both. These have several pistols on each side.
  • Observe the safety instructions. Before you stop at the pump, put out cigarettes that can cause fires and leave your phone in the car. Static electricity from cell phones is responsible for several fires in gas stations.
Pump Your Own Gas Step 2

Step 2. Choose your payment method and pay for your gasoline

Most of the time, you will have to pay before you choose what type of fuel you want and get used. You can pay by card directly at the pump or by card or cash at the counter.

  • To pay at the pump, insert your card and then follow the instructions. You may have to choose between paying cash or credit. Then enter your confidential code to make your payment. Some machines will ask you to enter an amount. If you enter € 20, the pump will automatically stop when you have pumped € 20 of fuel. If you want to refuel, you will have to skip this step and not enter an amount.
  • Prepay at the counter. You will need to specify the amount of fuel you want to take as well as the number of the pump you are going to use. You can pay by card or cash. The prepaid amount will be displayed on the pump. This will be blocked when this amount is reached. If you want to refuel, you may have to pay more than your full, fill your tank, then come back to the counter to get your change. This is usual. Just tell the cashier you want to refuel, give him more money than you think you'll spend, and then come back for change at the cashier.
  • If you get discounts through a loyalty program, don't forget to take advantage of them!
Pump Your Own Gas Step 3

Step 3. Open your vehicle's fuel tank

To access the tank you will probably have to open the hatch and then remove the cap. Depending on the vehicle model, you may need to push a button in the passenger compartment to open the hatch. On other models, the hatch opens by hand to reveal the stopper. Unscrew the cap and put it in a place where you will not forget it or let it hang down if it is tied with a thread.

Pump Your Own Gas Step 4

Step 4. Take the gun and insert it into the opening of the reservoir

On some machines, you must hold the gun in your hand for the machine to allow the choice of fuel. The easiest way is to take the pistol, insert it directly into the tank and then push it in until it holds on its own.

  • If the pump has two guns, it means that it can dispense diesel or regular gasoline. The diesel gun is generally larger than the gasoline gun and has a yellow color (green in the US). The diesel gun is often too large to fit into a gasoline engine vehicle tank. Make sure you are choosing the right type of fuel or you could seriously damage your engine.
  • Gasoline pump guns are designed to fit into the tank and stay in place without you having to hold the handle. It is common to see people with it on hand throughout the operation, but it is not necessary. Just make sure the gun is fully seated, fully inserted and you should be fine.

Part 2 of 3: select the type of gasoline

Pump Your Own Gas Step 5

Step 1. Select the correct type of gasoline

On most gas pumps, you will be able to choose from several types, depending on their octane rating. Generally in France, you will have the choice between a 98 and 95 index. Depending on the brand of the station in which you are located, these fuels can have specific names, but the octane number remains the common reference. Consult your vehicle's technical documentation to find the most appropriate octane rating for you. In most cases, so-called high performance fuels are not the best suited.

The octane number represents the amount of gasoline that can be compressed before ignition. Fuels with a low index will explode faster while those with a high index will ignite later during compression. High octane fuels are typically used in high performance engines to avoid shock and generate more power. On most vehicles, a high octane number will have no beneficial effect

Pump Your Own Gas Step 6

Step 2. Choose your clue by pressing the corresponding button on the pump

For each octane rating, you will be presented with a button. Make your choice based on octane number and price, then select your fuel.

On some older machines, you will need to activate a small mechanism on the pump where the gun sits in order to be able to serve you. On more modern machines, all you have to do is press the fuel selection button. Once the pump is activated, you can begin to use fuel. These devices are however very infrequent

Pump Your Own Gas Step 7

Step 3. Press start

On some machines you will need to press a button to start up once you have chosen your fuel. This will start the pump so you can start using yourself.

Look at the pump counter and make sure it goes to zero. This means that the pump is ready for use. While you are using this meter, you can see how much fuel you have put in the tank and how much it will cost

Part 3 of 3: fueling yourself

Pump Your Own Gas Step 8

Step 1. Squeeze the gun trigger to bring in fuel

Squeeze the pump gun trigger gently. Fuel will start to flow from the hose into your tank. On some pumps you can lock the trigger in this position. This will allow you to let go of the gun while your tank is filling.

The most modern pumps have a safety mechanism that cuts off the fuel supply when the tank is full or when you have reached the prepaid amount. You will hear a click when the tank is full or when the machine stops

Pump Your Own Gas Step 9

Step 2. Remember to stop filling before the tank is completely full

The effectiveness of the safety mechanism of some pumps is often questioned. Some consumers believe that when the safety mechanism engages, a certain amount of fuel is returned to the pump, but you are still charged for that amount. To avoid this loss, do not fill your tank to the maximum.

Some service stations are equipped with gasoline vapor recovery systems. These systems make it possible to recover the gasoline which evaporates and return them to the pump. In addition, gasoline expands slightly in the tank. Thus, an archiplein reservoir is not a good calculation, both from an economic and ecological point of view

Pump Your Own Gas Step 10

Step 3. Take the gun out of the reservoir and put it back in place

Allow the trigger to return to its original position and remove the gun from the reservoir, allowing the last drops to flow into it. Return the pump activation mechanism to the down position if applicable and place the gun back on the pump.

It is common for a few drops of fuel to escape from the gun when you remove it from the tank. Be careful to avoid getting it on your clothes or shoes. If you spill fuel on your vehicle or on the pump, you can wipe it up with the paper towels usually available nearby. This does not present any danger in principle, but can leave a stubborn odor

Pump Your Own Gas Step 11

Step 4. Close your tank

Put the cap back on your tank and screw it in until it closes and makes a few clicks. Then close the fuel filler flap.

Pump Your Own Gas Step 12

Step 5. Take your payment receipt

The fuel pump should beep. You can then print a receipt to keep track of the transaction or press a button not to take any. At some stations, you will need to go to the counter to get a receipt, if you want one.


  • Avoid stations that have just been refueled by a truck. Filling can mix up deposits from the bottom of the station tank and bring it to the surface. It is best to prevent these deposits from ending up in your tank.
  • Go for gas, preferably in the morning, when it is cool outside. As temperatures rise, gasoline expands and creates more vapors. By serving in the heat, you will pay for a quantity of gasoline which will decrease when the temperature drops.
  • There is usually a small latch on the pistols. They keep the trigger in the active position without having to hold it. The security system will still be active and will prevent any overflow by cutting off the fuel supply if your tank is almost full.

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