Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingFuel Systems States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas – Why Is This So?

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas – Why Is This So?

by Jordan Harris
States Where You Can't Pump Your Own Gas

What are the states where you can’t pump your own gas? Tens of millions of Americans fill up their cars with their own fuel every single day. And even if, for most Americans, this may seem like the most routine activity. Have you ever imagined what life would be like if you didn’t have to pump your own gas? Or even more bizarrely, what if it were illegal to pump your own gas?

Pumping your own gasoline may be against the law if you reside in one of two US states. So what’s up with these extremely uncommon self-service bans? Only two locations in the United States prohibit the self-pumping of gasoline.

It’s entirely acceptable and commonplace to get out of your car and pump your own gas in 48 of the 50 U.S. states. However, rules forbid residents from doing so in New Jersey and Oregon. Although Oregon has recently taken steps to change its regulations, both states have long prohibited their residents from pumping their own fuel at gas stations. Let’s talk about the States where you can’t pump your own gas.

Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act

New Jersey’s Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act was passed in 1949. This law forbids consumers from using gas stations. This meant that the fuel station itself and its workers had to service any automobiles that were receiving fuel. Although each state has encountered different challenges to the statute over the years, Oregon passed its own version of this law in 1951.

Oregon’s fuel-servicing regulations were loosened in 2018. According to Fortune, it is now permissible for people living in some rural areas in Oregon to pump their own gas.

Only counties in Oregon with a population of under 40,000 are subject to this leniency. Residents of three of those counties must pump their own fuel between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., while citizens of 15 of those counties are permitted to serve themselves at any time throughout the day.

Currently, New Jersey is the only whole state in the union where self-pumping gas is prohibited. Fines for breaking this New Jersey statute can range from $50 to $250 for a first offense and up to $500 for subsequent violations. Oregon has made some progress, but how did these two self-service restrictions even come to be?

What’s The Matter With The Self Service Bans?

You wouldn’t believe it, but the nation used to have zero self-service gas stations. When cars first started stopping for gasoline, it was handled by a professional. But since the invention of the automobile, a lot has changed in terms of technology, safety, and gas station architecture.

According to Infoplease, rules were passed to prohibit people from pumping their own gas during those early decades since it was thought that doing so would be harmful.  This was done to ensure their safety as well as the proprietors of the gas stations. Who can suffer expensive and even fatal mishaps?

However, self-service gas stations have increased on every street since the 1970s. Why then do self-service restrictions still apply in Oregon and New Jersey?

Why Are Bans On Self Service Still In Place?

States Where You Can't Pump Your Own Gas

There has been opposition to the laws in New Jersey and Oregon for many years. Some claim that removing the law will cause tens of thousands of people to lose their jobs. In addition to the psychological strain brought on by never having pumped their own gas before.

Only a few weeks after the prohibition was changed, Oregon residents expressed their annoyance with having to pump their own fuel on social media, as reported by Forbes. This suggests that the emotional strain is real. Others contend that a repeal would result in reduced gas prices (unless you’re looking at what state has the cheapest gas and comparing is diesel cheaper than gas). But there are many ways to resist.

Some people in the community want these laws to be repealed, while others believe they are important. For instance, disabled drivers rely on the staff of a full-service station. Established companies will continue to support these restrictions as well, as doing otherwise would expose them to more competition from competing gas stations.

Reasons For The States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas

If you’ve ever wondered why the two states are anti-self-service, here’s a quick look at the rules that prohibit gas stations from allowing consumers to pump their own gas. The self-service gas ban in New Jersey dates back to 1949. The Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act was passed by the Garden State in 1949 and is still in force today.

The rule against self-pumping was outlined in 10 conclusions and declarations that the New Jersey Assembly had made.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #1: Risks Of Fire

The law states that proprietors of gas stations should pump gas (rather than letting you learn how to fill up gas) because they can guarantee adherence to acceptable safety standards. Including turning off vehicle engines and refraining from smoking while gasoline is delivered.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #2: Helps Cashiers

The law states that gas station cashiers cannot maintain a clear view of self-service customers when conducting in-store transactions. It is far more difficult to monitor compliance with safety requirements.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #3: Ensures Conformity

The legislature declares that the state needs a ban on self-service gas so that attendants at gas stations can keep an eye out for safety measures.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #4: Insurance Plays A Role

States Where You Can't Pump Your Own Gas

According to the New Jersey Assembly, self-service gas stations have “higher general liability insurance premium rates” due to the greater risk involved when customers leave their cars to fill up with gas. This risk includes possible exposure to combustible liquids, criminality, falls, or personal injury.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #5: Gas Fumes

According to the government, gas fumes are hazardous for pregnant women. Health risks for gas station attendants are not mentioned.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #6: Reduces The Price Of Full Service

According to the legislature, a statewide self-service gas prohibition forbids full-service gas stations from imposing substantially higher rates to compete with self-service gas stations.

Consequently, poor-income individuals are helped to avoid having to “undergo the trouble and hazards of dispensing their own fuel,” which, according to the legislature, could be interpreted as discrimination if there was no restriction.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #7: Vehicle Maintenance And Repair

According to the legislature, self-service stations contributed to the decreasing availability of repair facilities and maintenance services at gasoline stations.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #8: Inspections

According to the law, because comprehensive service typically comes at a higher cost. Consumers are less inclined to perform or have required maintenance checks performed (outside of New Jersey). According to the law, allowing gas station employees to conduct these inspections protects customers from vehicle neglect, traffic risks, and costly issues brought on by postponed maintenance.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #9: Cost Disparity Was Not Noticed

Since there is no conclusive proof that self-service gasoline delivers a persistent reduction in gasoline prices. The legislature claims that its ban on self-service gas does not constitute a constraint of commerce.

States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas, Reasons #10: Public Welfare

According to the legislature, banning self-service gas pumps promotes common welfare because it increases safety and convenience without harming the general welfare of the public economically.

Self Service Gas Restriction In Oregon

The Beaver State implemented a self-service gas restriction two years after New Jersey.

However, House Bill 2482, which permits self-service gas pumping in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents, reduced Oregon’s statewide restriction in 2018.

Most counties in the eastern section of the state are in rural areas and permit self-service gas stations. Self-service gas regulations were once altered statewide for health and safety grounds during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Office of the State Fire Marshal states that the interim gas attendant suspension ended on May 23, 2020.

In counties where self-service gas pumping is prohibited at all times, the state switched back to full-service gas station operations when the suspension expired. Gasoline is classified as a Class 1 flammable liquid in Oregon, meaning that it has a flash point that is lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to this, the state only permits gas station owners, operators, and their employees to use or manipulate any pump, hose, pipe, or other equipment utilized at the facility to distribute Class 1 flammable liquids into a gasoline tank of a motor vehicle or container, and forbids self-service gas pumping in large population counties.

According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, gas stations must also have employees who can offer equal fuel access to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The office handles complaints about compliance with self-service gas regulations.

Bans On Self Service

Since the first stations were constructed in the early 1900s, the United States has experimented with self-service gas. But it wasn’t until roughly 1980 that self-service gas stations became the norm in this country. Ronald Johnson and Charles Romeo write that their climb to the top was not easy in 2000 research on the evolution of self-service.

The first self-service gas stations in the country started to develop about 1915. They were designed particularly for emergency scenarios or use after dark when gas stations were closed. Gas stations fiercely opposed full-service.

They perceived a threat to their market share from the development of less expensive, self-service gas, and they intended to block it. Sales of fuel carry extremely small profit margins. By providing a variety of services including oil and battery checks, windshield cleaning, and vehicle repairs, gas stations could generate revenue and build their businesses.

History Of Self Service Ban

In the first half of the 20th century, station staff, some of whom were dressed in bow ties, relied heavily on filling customers’ tanks as part of a larger service strategy to attract drivers.

Self-service gas stations emphasized the dangers of their location, warning that novice drivers might overfill their tanks to the point of starting a fire.

With the assistance of the neighborhood fire marshals, gas stations lobbied state legislators for self-service bans. By 1968, 23 states had passed laws banning self-service. After the rise of self-popularity services abroad and a dramatic shift in the industry’s business model. Self-service only began to replace attendants in gas stations in the United States.

Matt Anderson Claim

Matt Anderson, the curator of transportation at The Henry Ford museum in Michigan, claimed that modern self-service gas stations were really invented in Sweden. There, self-service was less expensive for drivers than full service. The idea then expanded throughout Europe.

The service and repair business at gas stations suffered at the same time that auto warranties required that automobiles be serviced at dealerships. According to Wayne Henderson, author of “One Hundred Years of Gas Stations. Traditional full-service gas stations lost their profit center in car maintenance and were compelled to adapt their mode of business.

To boost profitability, gas stations have to come up with novel strategies. They made the changeover to self-service, which cut their costs and increased gas sales. They also expanded into higher-margin goods like snacks, coffee, food, and cigarettes.

Owners of gas stations began pleading with states to relax their restrictions on self-service. By 1992, self-service was available at almost 80% of all gas stations in the nation, up from 8% two decades earlier.

It doesn’t appear realistic that the state will soon allow drivers to use their own gas pumps. The state’s Senate president opposes a bill that would lift the restriction in New Jersey. Self-service doesn’t appeal to many state residents. According to a survey conducted in March, 73% of them prefer to have their gas pumped for them.

What The Public Thinks

According to a 2014 public policy study, 53 percent of Oregonians, particularly those under the age of 45, supported self-service gas. This demonstrates change because in 1982, gas station owners sponsored a ballot initiative that Oregonians rejected and which sought to legalize self-service gas.

A bill proposed by the Oregon legislature allowing counties with fewer than 40,001 inhabitants to serve their own gas was signed into law by the state’s governor in May 2017. This law was supposed to go into force in January 2018. However, although it is not always allowed, customers are free to pump their own fuel in these two states.

In order to preserve jobs, some other communities, including Huntington, New York, have outlawed gas self-service since the early 1970s. These bans have previously been challenged in Oregon and New Jersey without success.

How To Pump Gas

Simply pull up to a gas station and park your car so that the gas tank is close to the nozzle of the pump since you already know which side of your automobile has to be near the pump. Before getting out of the car, put it in park, turn off the engine, extinguish your cigarette (if appropriate), and leave all of your electronics inside.

The “filler door” on the side of your car must first be opened before you may add gas to it. Open the filler door completely, then turn the gas cap counterclockwise to remove it.

Remove the nozzle from the pump’s dock, fit it snugly and completely into the top of your car’s gasoline tank and then press the large button on the pump’s face that corresponds to the fuel grade you want to use.

The gallons displayed on the pump should be reset to zero, and it should also reflect the correct price per gallon. If that doesn’t occur, there might be a lever under the nozzle dock that needs to be manually raised for the pump to operate.

You’re now prepared to take action. Gas will start pouring into your gas tank as soon as you squeeze the pump’s handle, and the display will start to move. You may keep an eye on the display to check the current gas level and the total cost of your transaction. Keep your grip on the handle; if you let go, the gas will stop flowing.

States Where You Can't Pump Your Own Gas

Facts: You Still Can’t Pump Your Own Gas In These 2 US States

  • Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states in the US where pumping your own gas is illegal.
  • Gas station attendants are required to pump gas in these states, and customers must stay in their vehicles.
  • The laws for both states have been around for over 70 years and were created for reasons such as safety hazards caused by gas fumes and the potential for fires caused by cigarettes or lighters.
  • Insurance rates for gas stations increase when customers are allowed to pump their own gas.
  • The cost of fuel stays down in these states since the ban prohibits full-service gas stations from charging higher prices to compete against self-service gas stations.
  • The self-service ban allows attendants to earn a larger salary.
  • Any station attendee or owner that allows a customer to fuel up their own car can face fines up to several hundred dollars.
  • Bills were brought up in both states this year to change the law and add a self-service option, but both bills failed to pass.
  • Gas station owners are struggling to keep their stations open due to COVID-19 restrictions, lack of labor, and record gas prices.
  • Oregon’s law is a little more relaxed than New Jersey’s and only applies to counties with more than 40,000 residents.


Here are some popular FAQs:

Which States Are Out Of Gas

The only American states that still forbid self-service gas stations are New Jersey and Oregon.

How To Get Gas

Track down the gas tank. Make a gas payment. Select the grade level. Insert the gas nozzle into the fuel tank. Place the gas cap back in place.

Can You Pump Gas With The Car On

In all 50 states, it’s against the law to pump gas while the engine is running. Although there may not be much of a risk to safety, it is always best to turn off the automobile before getting gas.

Can You Pump Your Own Gas In Oregon

The only two states that forbid self-service gas stations are Oregon and New Jersey. However, as of January 1, consumers in Oregon can now pump their own gas, but only at stand-alone gas stations in counties with fewer than 40,000 inhabitants. The ban is still in effect elsewhere.

Can You Pump Your Own Gas In New Jersey

Anyone who has ever traveled through New Jersey is aware that you can keep your seatbelt fastened while filling the car. Self-pumping of gas is not permitted. That has been the law for a very long time.

How Do Gas Pumps Know When To Stop

The air starts to depart the tank as gasoline fills it. Due to the change in air pressure, the nozzle valve automatically closes when the airflow through it is halted.

Do Gas Stations Sell Gas Cans

It depends. Gas cans are not sold at every gas station. Authorities at gas stations consider a number of considerations before selecting whether or not to sell gas cans and other associated decisions like price, quality, etc. However, in general, gas cans are not sold at gas stations.

What Happens If You Pump Gas With The Car On

Open flames are exceedingly dangerous and almost a guarantee that gasoline will ignite. You can let the gasses escape and be pushed out as the tank is filled with more liquid by opening the gas tank and inserting the nozzle inside. The truth is that leaving the car running is not nearly as dangerous as leaving a flame unattended, but given that the gas station is frequented by hundreds or even thousands of cars each day, it only takes one car to start a fire.

What State Is It Illegal To Pump Your Own Gas

Most Americans shiver because of the record-high gas costs when they fill up their tanks. Oregonians and New Jerseyans, meanwhile, do not. They are not permitted to get close to the gas nozzle.

How Much Does A Gas Station Make Per Gallon

Retailers seldom ever profit from selling gas. Typically, a gallon of gas has a markup of around 15 cents (gross profit before expenses). After deducting costs like rent, utilities, freight, labor, and credit card fees, a retailer is left with a profit of around 2 cents per gallon.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Pump Gas

It is nonetheless crucial to keep in mind that youngsters under the age of 16 shouldn’t operate pumps since the fumes from gasoline are exceedingly toxic and may cause asthma attacks. Even though neither a state nor a country has legislation against this practice. The gas could splatter into your child’s eye and mouth, which is another risk.

Do You Tip Gas Station Attendants

There are many diverse perspectives about tipping that exist. Some claim that you should always leave a tip, regardless of the quality of the service. Others think that leaving a tip is only appropriate in specific circumstances, such as while dining out. So, if you have some additional cash available, tipping them could really improve their day. Naturally, you’re under no need to tip if you don’t want to, but if you can afford it and are pleased with the service, there’s no reason not to. Someone’s day might be a little bit brighter as a result.

Do Gas Stations Close

When the gas station is open in the US, the law mandates that an attendant be on duty. Therefore, those stations that do not want an employee working overnight do not operate continuously.

Final Verdict – States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas

States where you can’t pump your own gas? As a result of a nationwide labor shortage that has caused long queues at the pump. Legislators in the only two states that forbid residents from pumping their own gas at service stations are exploring amending these decades-old laws.

After years of delay amid behind-the-scenes bickering between powerful special interest organizations. New proposals that would allow drivers to pump their fuel have recently advanced in Oregon and New Jersey. The legislation would establish a hybrid system in both states. Requiring gas stations to provide full-service alternatives but also allowing them to provide self-serve options for motorists who choose to pump their own fuel.

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