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How To Pump Gas: 5 Steps For A Teen’s First Time Pumping Gas

Learning how to drive also means learning how to pump gas. This is something every teenager will need to figure out before they get their license. Why not start learning now?

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How to Pump Gas Step by Step:

1. Locate the gas tank.

Before you pull up to a gas pump, ask your teenager to locate the gas tank cap. This might seem obvious, but they may not know it is not always on the driver’s side. You will also want to locate the latch to open your gas lid, if your car has one.

Gas Tank Release

On your vehicle’s dashboard near the gas gauge is a triangle-shaped arrow. The arrow will point to the side of the car where the gas tank is located. (Only one in 10 drivers know about the gas tank indicator arrow, according to AAA). Pull up so the gas pump is on the same side as the gas tank and close enough so that the nozzle will reach your car. After the car is in the right place, you can open the gas tank lid and unscrew the gas cap.

fuel door indicator

this indicates the fuel door is on the passenger side

2. Pay for the gas.

Cash or credit? You can use a credit or debit card to pay outside, but cash will require a trip inside to the clerk. Does your teen know they can put in just a few dollars at a time? It’s a good thing to know for those times when they don’t have enough money to fill up the car.

3. Choose the grade.

Explain the difference between the different types of gas: premium, mid-grade, and regular. And that you probably don’t want to ever go to that diesel pump, which has a differently-shaped nozzle to keep you from accidentally using it. You can likely stick to filling your car with regular gas unless you’re driving a vehicle with a high-powered engine (such as a sports car or a large SUV), in which case it’ll be better to fill up with either mid-grade or premium gas to keep the engine running smoothly.

Fuel Grade

93, 89, and 87 are the most common fuel grades in the US


4. Put the gas nozzle into the gas tank.

Pull it down slightly until it’s secure. Pull up on the nozzle’s trigger, and lock it into place. It will automatically shut off when the tank is full. Carefully remove the nozzle when the machine stops pumping gas, to avoid spilling.

fuel nozzle

put the nozzle in the tank

5. Screw the gas cap back on.

It’s easy to forget. But if the gas cap is left off, gas can escape from the system. When this happens, many vehicles run a self-test of the performance system and will detect this leak in the evaporative emissions system. The check engine light will then come on.

Tighten the fuel cap

Tighten the fuel cap

Pumping Gas For the First Time

It can be very intimidating for a teenager to pump gas for the first time. One way to make the experience less stressful is to go during a time that the gas pump is not busy. We recommend doing it with a parent first so that the teenager can see the different steps. Next time you get gas with your teenager in the car, invite them to come out of the vehicle and pump gas with you. This way they can experience the small details, such as locking the nozzle trigger and how to pay using the screen. This can be a fun bonding experience that will make them more prepared for when they have to do it on their own.

Jane Parent, former editor at Your Teen, is the parent of three.

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