Should you tip at full service gas stations?

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Happy Wayfarer is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Is the fact that the gas attendant at the full-serve gas station just passed a smile at you while also wiping your vehicle’s window panes making you wonder if you should tip them? 

What about the other times when all the gas attendants do is pump fuel and barely bat an eye across the driver’s seat? If the contemplation is too hard for you, here is an article that covers the question in detail.

But first, what is a full serve gas station, by definition?

What is a full serve gas station?

A gas station with a full-service attendant is called a full-service gas station. In a few places, such as Oregon or New Jersey, gas stations must be full service, which is rare in most places today. The smell of gasoline on a person’s hands is something they don’t like, and they would prefer to pay a little more for the extra service.

Air pressure in tires can be checked by a full-service gas station. The interest in cutting costs led to the rise of self-serving stations, even though full-service stations used to be the standard in many places. The cost of gasoline was usually a little lower since no attendant was needed. The price of gas rose in the 1970s, so many people wanted to save as much as they could.

However, full-service gas stations in Oregon and New Jersey are required by law.

An attendant at a gas station may wash the customer’s windows, check the oil in their car and even check the water level in their car, as well as provide gas-pumping services. Most of the attendants should get a tip because this is full service, given that they actually do carry out the full service.

Should you tip at full-service gas stations?

Tipping at full-serve gas stations is not customary as it is for delivery guys, baristas, and waiters. In short, tipping at full-serve gas stations is all up to you, but if you are looking for some much-needed introspection as to when it is ideal to tip at a full-serve gas station and when it does not make much sense, keep reading.

When should you tip at a full serve gas station?

To be straight, you should tip a gas attendant whenever you can manage a tip, and more so, if they were nice to you and did a little ‘extra’ that you don’t frequently encounter. 

However, below we have enlisted occasions when (in our opinion) you should tip the gas attendant and contribute a little to making their day better amidst fumes, fuel, and exhaustion.

  • When it’s actually ‘full’ service

Nowadays, full-service gas stations mostly limit their services to pumping the fuel unless you really ask one of the attendants to handle a few extra chores such as checking the tires or getting under the hood. 

If a gas attendant goes above and beyond their way to point out a faulty tire or wipe your window panes on their own, it should not hurt you to tip them with a dollar or two. Even if you had to ask the attendant to wipe the panes or check the tires, it is still absolutely justified to tip them since they are not getting paid anything extra for these services they are providing you, either on request or out of politeness. 

  • Service in bad weather conditions

Is it the humid California heat or the bad thunderstorm in Oregon? If a gas attendant is serving you to the best of their abilities, even in a not-so-favorable weather condition, tipping them can come as a sort of relief. 

Even if all the gas attendant did was pump the fuel, it is still only ideal for tipping them if they did it in unserviceable weather conditions.

  • Meaningful interactions with the attendant

Did you have a good chat with the gas attendant about football, or did you guys share the same view on the prices of gasoline? If you ever struck a meaningful conversation with the gas attendant, or even as much as passed a courteous smile at each other, it is only ideal for tipping them to let them know that you appreciated their friendly attitude and the gesture.

  • When the fuel is priced the same at both self-serve and full-serve

Although this is sporadic, if you are at a gas station where gasoline is priced the same at both the self-serve and full-serve segments, we strongly recommend tipping the gas attendant if you are using the full-serve segment.

Why? Because the attendants are not getting paid anything for the service they are doing for you (apart from a minimal salary) and you could as well be serving yourself at the self-serve gas station.

  • Whenever you can manage a tip

As simple as it is, it is ideal to tip at a full serve gas station whenever you can manage a trip or whenever you feel like you really should tip the gas attendant. Tipping never hurts, and it, in fact, is a much-appreciated gesture at the end of the gas attendant who is working tedious hours at a place filled with fumes and fuel.

When is it not ideal to tip at a full serve gas station?

First off, let us be clear: we are not saying you SHOULD NOT be tipping gas attendants. Infact, if you could manage a tip, it is always appreciated (on the gas attendant’s end) to tip them a buck or two.

If you are contemplating whether you should tip and full-serve gas stations or not, below we have elucidated on when it is not so ideal for tipping the attendants.

  • When you use full-serve gas stations daily

If you are a resident of Oregon or New Jersey, or Huntingland, your only option to pump gas into your vehicle is to use a full-serve gas station (more on that later). Thus, when you use a full-serve gas station on a daily basis, it might seem ridiculous to an extent to tip the gas attendant every time they (pump the gas and solely pump the gas). It must also be noted that the gasoline prices in states where full-serve gas stations are mandatory are often higher than gasoline prices at self-serve stations.

  • When there is zero interaction between you and the attendant

Tipping is seen as more customary towards baristas, delivery guys, barbers, or a food server. The reason behind this is that there is always a social interaction between the customer (you) and the person providing the service. Thus, tipping people working in these niches is seen as a social obligation.

On the other hand, a gas attendant pumps the fuel while you are sitting inside your vehicle, and if you are paying in cash, the cash exchange is possibly the only physical interaction there that occurs between you and the gas attendant. 

When it comes to social interaction, we are sure it is not every day that you pass a smile (or vice versa) at the gas attendant or strike a meaningful conversation with them. Thus, the social obligation of tipping does not make much sense when it comes to gas attendants at a full-service gas station.,

Note: You must understand that in places where only full-serve gas stations are allowed, things could get very busy for the gas attendant, and if you use the services during surge hours, you can’t really blame the gas attendants for not interacting with you a lot. Besides, most drivers prefer to get the gas pumped and be on the road as soon as possible; therefore, if you feel you should tip the gas attendant even if they haven’t interacted with you – just do it!

  • When the gas attendant only pumps fuel

Full serve gas stations are not as ‘full service’ as they used to be when they were initially started several decades back. Nowadays, attendants at full-service gas stations only pump fuel, and the ‘service’ in full-service gas stations usually stands for the same. 

Thus, if a gas attendant only pumps fuel at a full-serve gas station, especially when there is not a queue waiting behind you for the service, it is okay if you do not provide them a tip.

  • When the fuel price is higher at full-serve gas stations

Some people think that attendants shouldn’t be tipped since people will pay more in the price for gas if they go to a full-service pump, more so if the station also has a self-serve segment. The ‘extra’ that you pay for the service mostly goes as salaries to the gas attendants. Thus, it is not ideal for tipping them on a quotidian basis every time you get fuel pumped into your vehicle.

However, you should also know that they don’t really make anything extra for providing you services, unlike baristas and delivery guys; thus, tipping a gas attendant once in a while is a kind gesture.

How much should you tip at a full serve gas station?

If windows are washed, gas is pumped, and oil and water levels are checked, the attendant should get a tip of $1 to $2 US Dollars. The attendant can always ask the customer not to do these additional checks, even if they don’t want to give a high tip.

When are you required not to tip at a full serve gas station?

Some places might require certain people to pay less for gasoline if they use a full-service station. For instance, in California, if you have an updated handicapped sticker on your car, you will be charged the self-serve price, and the attendant is obligated to pump gas for you if there is full service at the station. Since the gas station does not profit from these services, while the services certainly do not profit the attendant either, a tip should be offered when these services are rendered. 

Which U.S. States have banned self-serve gas stations? 

Tens of millions of Americans fill their own vehicles with their own fuel on a daily basis. Have you ever wondered what life would be like without having to pump your own gas, as this is the most commonplace activity for the majority of Americans? Or what if pumping your own gas could be a crime?

It is normal to get out of your vehicle and pump your own gas in 48 of the 50 U.S. states. However, laws in New Jersey and Oregon prevent citizens from doing that. Although Oregon has made recent progress in changing its laws, both states still prohibit their citizens from pumping their own fuel for decades.

People living in two U.S. states are at risk of violating the law if they pump their own fuel. So what is the deal with self-service bans?

New Jersey

New Jersey is best known for having gas station pump attendants. Congress passed a law in 1949 that prohibited gas retail customers from pumping their own gas. New Jersey is the only state that requires a professional to pump your car’s gasoline.

Penalties could be high if you are caught violating this law. If a person breaks the 1949 statute, they will be fined up to $500 for any proceeding offenses. If you think gas prices are high, you haven’t been caught pumping your own gas in New Jersey. New Jersey drivers can breathe a sigh of relief. Taking an NJ Defensive Driving course can save you hundreds of dollars on car insurance each year.


The state of Oregon should be given an honorable mention. Oregon recently passed a law that allows customers to pump their own gas. 

The law only takes effect in counties with less than 40,000 residents. In densely populated regions of the state, full-service pumps are still available, and self-service will still most likely be banned. 

Huntington, New York

Huntington, New York, is like a pond of fresh water in a wasteland in New York. Full-service gas retailers are allowed in the city of Huntington, despite the fact that it escaped the grasp of responsibility. We can give a wild guess as to why the law is still in place, but we don’t know the real reason. The city doesn’t believe in putting in a lot of effort, simple as that!

The Huntington Fire Department became more concerned with fire safety during the 1980s. It was thought to be a fire hazard to pump your own gasoline. Huntington passed a city-wide regulation requiring gas retailers to offer full-service pumps. The consequences of heavy fine payments would be felt by any driver who was caught fueling their own vehicle. It doesn’t matter where you live in NY; you will get the mandated 3-year savings if you complete the NY defensive driving course.

Why can’t you pump your own fuel in these states?

Below we have condensed the reasons to 3 major ones as to why these states only offer full-serve gas stations (with slight flexibility involving Oregon).

Safety Reasons: Safety procedures should be followed when using a class 1 flammable liquid. The attendants are there since the cashier can’t watch all the pumps. People can reduce personal injury or exposure to fumes by doing this. Safety issues on vehicles such as low tires or faulty windshields can be reported to the driver by attendants, who are more likely to notice them. The law states that the risk of slipping in the rain is also a safety reason. Indirectly, the insurance liability to the service stations may be reduced by these benefits.

Equable Treatment of Seniors & Disabled: It is more difficult for a senior or someone with a disability to get out of their vehicle and do the functions of pumping gas. They would be forced to pay a premium for a service that isn’t equitable because of this, which certainly isn’t fair, and hence the full service at gas stations.

Jobs and Employment: The most common reason for service station attendants to be employed is jobs. Since Oregon does not have a sales tax, the cost that an attendant incurs per gallon was not considered excessive. This could change if minimum wages increase.

Most importantly, a large percentage of people in Oregon like having someone else pump their gas.

How can you pump your own gas in these states?

There are two workarounds to pump your own gas at gas stations. However, these may not always be applicable to you.

Diesel-Only Customers

Customers are allowed to use the diesel pumps themselves at some retail stations. This can be sporadic.  You can apply for a fuel card at a card lock if you want to be able to refill your diesel vehicle’s tank at regular intervals. One of these locations can be used by customers to pump their own fuel. These cards do not require a minimum purchase per year and are diesel-only.

Business Owners and Commercial Use Fuel

If you’re a business owner, use Pacific Pride and CFN to gain access to a commercial card lock. You must agree to be able to use 900 gallons of fuel a year. You can get a card that includes gasoline if you are a Pacific Pride or CFN member.

Some of the ways to prove you are a business owner are:

  • Contractor’s License
  • Landscaping License
  • City Business License
  • Business License
  • Federal Income Tax Schedule C or F
  • Federal ID #
  • Or any equivalent

Read More

  1. Do You Have to Tip Pizza Delivery if You Are Already Charged a Delivery Fee?
  2. How to Find the Nearest Gas Station on Google Maps?
  3. Why Can’t You Pump Gas in Oregon?
Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

Leave a Comment