What Does a Gas Attendant Do?

Jeremy Laukkonen

The duties of a gas attendant can vary from one area to another, as some local jurisdictions have laws that prevent motorists from pumping their own gasoline. In those areas, the primary duties of a gas attendant are to operate gasoline pumps and take payments from customers. These attendants often check fluid levels, wiper blades, tires, and other motor vehicle components as well. If the fluids levels are low, or the tires need air, gas attendants often take care of those issues. Full-service options are also sometimes offered in areas where motorists can legally pump their own gasoline, in which case the price of gas will typically be increased to reflect the extra work performed by an attendant.

Self-service gas stations require people to fuel their own vehicles.
Self-service gas stations require people to fuel their own vehicles.

In the context of motor vehicle fueling stations, there are two basic types of service. Self-service stations require motorists to fuel their own vehicles, while full-service stations provide attendants to perform that function. In some areas, full-service filling stations are mandated by law. That essentially means motorists in those areas are legally prevented from pumping their own gas, in which case filling stations are required to provide attendants. At full-service fueling stations, pumping gasoline is the primary duty of a gas attendant.

At full-service stations gas attendants are responsible for pumping gas.
At full-service stations gas attendants are responsible for pumping gas.

Gas station attendants are typically employed by full-service fueling stations, though they can perform a number of other duties at self-service stations as well. One of the duties a gas attendant will typically be asked to perform is to check fluid and air levels. When a customer arrives for fuel, gas attendants will typically ask permission to check the fluids in the brake reservoir, transmission, power steering pump, and other systems, as well as the air in the tires. If any of these levels are low, the attendant may offer to top them up. Attendants often check other items as well, such as wipe blades and tire treads, and they may also offer to wash the windows of a vehicle.

Depending on the specific service station, gas attendants can also perform various cleaning, stocking, and clerical duties. They are sometimes required to clean office areas, restrooms, and sweep up around the exterior of a service station. Some attendants also place stock orders, check the stock in when it arrives, and then shelve the individual items. If daily reporting functions are not computerized, a gas attendant may also need to prepare daily sales reports for gasoline, accessories, and other items.

There are typically no education or experience based requirements to become a gas station attendant, though some automotive knowledge is helpful, and many employers prefer hiring high school graduates. Basic knowledge of arithmetic is typically required in order to take payment and make change, and a strong inclination to providing good customer service is also required. Gas station attendants are sometimes also asked to provide directions to customers who are unfamiliar with the area, so a strong knowledge of local roads and landmarks is typically expected as well.

Some states and local jurisdictions have laws that prohibit drivers from pumping their own gas.
Some states and local jurisdictions have laws that prohibit drivers from pumping their own gas.

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Discussion Comments


I had not really thought about this, but whenever I have driven along the east coast in the U.S. and I stopped in New Jersey for gas, all of the gas pumps have been manned by attendants. I can remember pulling off the interstate one time and into a service station and being surprised by all of the people working at the pumps.

I actually drove around looking for a self-service pump before I figured out that they were all full-service pumps. Still it didn't dawn on me that this might be a state law. How strange is it that some people grow up never having to pump gas. My mother should have lived in New Jersey. She really doesn't like pumping gas.


@mobilian33 - I know Oregon is one state where customers are not allowed to fill their cars with gas. All of the stations there are full service, and like this article says, the attendants will gladly check your oil and tire pressure and clean your windshield. In my opinion, not having to get out of the car when the weather is particularly cold or rainy is a good thing.

The law about gas attendants having to pump gas was passed in the 50s. The basis for this law was that putting flammable liquid into a vehicle was a job that required some skill if it was to be done safely. Of course, gas pumps and gasoline used in cars is much safer than it was 60 and 70 years ago, so this law is outdated in my opinion, but the law has its perks.


So there are some places where you are not allowed to pump gas into your own car because this is against the law? This is the first time I have heard of this. Where are these places and why is there such a law as this? I wish there were more full-service stations where I live, but I still want the option of pumping my own gas, especially when I can save money my doing so.

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