What is a Full Service Gas Station?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A full service gas station is a gas station where an attendant pumps the customer's gas. These stations are relatively uncommon in most places today, but in a few locations — including certain parts of the US, like Oregon or New Jersey — gas stations are legally required to be full service. Some people prefer not having to get out of the car or risk having the smell of gasoline on their hands, and would rather pay a little more for the extra service.

Attendants fill a patron's car with gasoline at a full service gas station.
Attendants fill a patron's car with gasoline at a full service gas station.

Full service stations used to be the standard in many places, but an interest in cutting costs led many businesses to begin offering self-serving stations. Since no attendant was required to pump the gas, this usually translated to a slightly lower cost in gasoline. Especially as gas prices rose in the 1970s, many people were interested in saving even a few cents if they could.

A full service gas station may check air pressure in tires.
A full service gas station may check air pressure in tires.

In addition to providing gas-pumping services, an attendant at a full service gas station may also wash the customer's windows, and some may even check the oil and water levels in the car. This is indeed full service, and most agree that such attendants should receive a tip. The standard for tipping these attendants is $1 to $2 US Dollars (USD) if windows are washed and gas is pumped, and about $5 USD if the attendant also checks oil and water levels. Customers who don’t want to offer this high a tip can always ask the attendant not to do these additional checks.

Since people who go to a full service pump will pay more in price for gasoline, especially in stations that offer both full serve and self serve, some people contend that attendants should not be tipped. It is true that they are paying extra for the service, but most gas attendants aren’t getting paid any extra to perform their jobs. A tip is a nice gesture if the driver can manage it. Furthermore, many attendants will go the extra mile and check air pressure in tires if a customer requests it, at no extra charge.

Some places may require that certain people don’t have to pay the extra price for gasoline if they use a full service gas station. In California, for instance, someone with an updated handicapped sticker on his car is usually charged the self-serve price, and it is the attendant’s obligation, provided the station offers full service, to pump gas for the person. A tip should definitely be offered when these services are rendered because they don’t profit the gas station, and they certainly don’t profit the attendant.

Gas stations in Oregon and New Jersey are legally required to be full service.
Gas stations in Oregon and New Jersey are legally required to be full service.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I work at a truly full service station in a small town, as for tips I am much more thankful for the people who wish me a good day or ask how my family is doing. It means a lot more to me than a dollar here or there.


Checking under the hood was not only good for the driver, it was good for the station as they might discover a need for parts or service which the station provided. (Most stations had a "Mechanic on Duty" sign prominently displayed.)

Alas, the concept of service is gone not just from gas stations, but from most retail stores where workers act like they're doing you a favor if you ask for assistance with anything.


I just moved and had pump service in Salem, Oregon for the first time. It was different. I was just wondering why this seems to be the only state to do that.


I work at a gas station too. anon57304 it's not like the attendant is trying to rip you off. It's not our fault the price is so high. We don't usually expect tips. It's just nice to feel appreciated and get a thank you or something. And when I do get a tip it's nice to have.

We have to deal with complaining customers and where my station is, there is also a car wash to look after and many times I have to fix it if it messes up and I'm there all alone. It can be a very stressful job, and I've had many difficult times, especially when it's freezing cold out and it's busy, or when it's terribly humid. Just have a bit of respect for us attendants.


I just went to a so called "full service" gas station and asked the attendant to put brake fluid in my car. He looked at me like I had three heads and said there's not a mechanic here now. Since when did a mechanic have to put brake fluid in a car? I ended up doing it myself. Never again will I go to a full service gas station!


I work at a gas station, and while I agree that it is nice to get tips, we really do not expect it in any way. If we did, we would be constantly disappointed. We just consider it a nice gesture from someone who notices that we work hard for the customers.

People also need to realize that we can't please everyone. For example, sometimes we get yelled at by certain customers for not getting their tank filled all the way, they don't stop to think that there is no gauge on the outside of the car, and we can't tell if it clicked off early. While other customers will yell at us for adding more to the tank after it has clicked off.

So, if your car needs anything special, you should let us know ahead of time, like if it tends to click off early or often, tell us and we can have you check the gauge to see if the tank actually got full.


I work at a full service gas station and you wouldn't believe how many rude and inconsiderate people come in on a daily basis. Yes, my job is to pump your gas but I'm not your personal servant.

People think it's my job to bring out cigarettes and whatever else they feel they need from the store. Well, news flash -- it isn't. You don't have to tip. A simple "thank you" is nice to feel that you're appreciated. People have to start learning manners and teach them to their children. And for your info anon75432 there were full service gas stations before Obama was even president.

Anon57304, you are right. You have done enough for your country and you don't have to tip an attendant but i would hope you would at least say thank you. After all, it is a service.


Full service gas stations what a crock! This is another 'obuma' idea for 'creating jobs'. Also, there is always a way to get an attendant to pump the gas for the disabled person. If a gas station is 'full service' the cost of that gas pumper employee is reflected in the price of the gas at the pump. Just drive through Oregon to find out! Ugh.


To anon57304 above, you don't have to pay a tip, but it's certainly a nice gesture. Just like you don't have to say "Thank you" after someone gives you something, but you do it anyway because it's an appreciative custom.

Tipping is the same way. Some people may see it as another nickel-and-dime scheme, but the attendant will most certainly be grateful for your generosity.


I am a disabled veteran and I'll be damned if I have to pay a "tip" after my gas is pumped. I think I've paid enough already, thanks much. Not everything in life is based on "profits." Maybe the individual who wrote this article should remember that.

Post your comments
Forgot password?