Fuelling Up Introduction

Once you pass your test, you're suddenly out there on your own like a real driver. It can be scary.

One of the first things you will be required to do is fill up your car with fuel. So many little details now become very important: which side do I need to go on, how do I take my petrol cap off, where do I put my petrol cap while it's off, which colour nozzle, how do I get the thing off the thing, how does the man know how much petrol I've used?

So if we can, on one of your lessons we'll see if we can help you out.

We will cover the whole process of filling your car up, from entering the filling station, to filling the car, paying and then leaving safely.

But here's some tips for now.


Fuelling Up Preparation

Find out where your filler cap is before you head for fuel. Its usually over either the left or right back wheel. Remember which side it is because you're going to need to choose a pump to match up with it. On some dashboards, where you can see your fuel gauge, it may have a little pump icon next to it with an arrow pointing to the side your fuel cap is on.

Also find out how to open it too - it might be with your key, it could be a lever inside your car or you might just need to press on the panel covering it. Don't do this for the first time on the petrol station forecourt. You may well get someone's horn sounding at you if you take overly long.

It's also a very good idea to know what fuel goes in your car. The two main types are Unleaded Petrol or Diesel. You can usually find these on all the pumps but they are colour coded to make identification easier. Unleaded is usually green and Diesel is usually black. There will usually be some fuel markings, or colour coding, by your filler cap or even the cap itself.


Fuelling Up At The Petrol Station

Pulling up at the pump

As you drive into the petrol station, go very slowly. There are often reduced speed limits but it's also likely that you'll have to wait for people ahead of you to move so you can go to the pump that matches the side your petrol cap is on. it's not vital that the pump is on the filler cap side, the hoses are usually long enough to reach over, or behind, the car but this just makes it more awkward.

Pull up next to the pump, about a door's width away so you can get out and with the filler cap lining up with the pump.

Make sure you put the handbrake on, gear into neutral, and engine off.


Take off your fuel cap

Take good observations to ensure it's safe to get out of the car. Take your keys and money with you, and shut the door.

Go round the pump side of your car to your fuel cap. If you need your key to unlock it, just put it in and twist. It should come off easily, and you can put it somewhere safe like on the raised edge of the pump. It may even have a strap securing it to the car so it can just hang there.

If you don't need a key, you'll usually just flip the panel open like a little door. Then you'll see the actual fuel cap, which you either twist open or pop up like your windscreen fluid cap. Check the colour coding or labels to confirm which fuel you'll require.


Choose your fuel

However many times you've filled up your car, always take a second to really, deeply think about the fuel you're about to put in your car. The wrong fuel can play absolute havoc with your engine and cost you a packet.

  • Diesel is usually black
  • Petrol is usually green, but will be labelled unleaded.

Many petrol stations will also offer premium versions of the fuel you want, which are more expensive but wouldn't hurt your car if you put them in accidentally.

At the pump you'll be asked how you want to pay. If paying by Chip & Pin you will enter your card into the machine at this point and you won't have to go into the kiosk. Put your card in the card slot and enter your pin when it asks. You can then take out your card and the pump will know to charge you for just the fuel you use.

Once the system has confirmed your card the pump should start to operate and you should hear it humming away.


Using the pump

Carefully lift the nozzle from the pump holster and lift upwards, then outwards. This will unhook the nozzle from the pump. Move to your fuel filler and put the nozzle in. Be aware that some leftover fuel might dribble out while you're on the move but it's nothing to worry about - your fuel won't start coming out until you squeeze the handle.

Once the nozzle is in the hole firmly, gently squeeze the trigger on the handle. Fuel will start coming out and the pump will make a humming noise. Be careful with the trigger, the more you squeeze it the faster the fuel will come out.

Keep an eye on the pump's screen, which will tell you how much you're putting in and how much it will cost. If you get to the amount you want, stop squeezing. If you want to fill the tank, just keep squeezing until you hear a THUNK. This means your tank is full and you can stop. Pumps usually have an automatic cut-off sensor that tells them when the tank is almost full.

Slowly pull out the nozzle and give it a little jiggle to get any excess fuel out and into your tank. You don't want the excess coming out all over your clothes, do you?

Return the nozzle to the pump. The long bit of the nozzle goes in and up, then the handle slots down into the holster.

If you have paid by Chip & Pin the pump should give you the option of a receipt at this point.

Put your fuel cap back on. Very important - do not leave your fuel cap off. Make sure it's firmly screwed back on and the covering panel is shut if you have one. If you do need a key for your fuel cap you're much less likely to forget it - your keys will still be attached and you won't be able to drive away without them, however hard you try.



If you've already put your card in the pump machine, you can go now.

If you're paying with cash, lock your car and check what number your pump is, and how much you have to pay.

Cross the forecourt carefully and go in to the cash desk. When it's your turn, say "Pump number X please". You will then be asked for money, this is the hard bit.

On this note: always check you have enough money before you fill up.


Leave the petrol station

Get back in your car and start your engine. Check carefully all around for pedestrians and other cars, then pull away very slowly. Be very careful if there are other drivers there. There may be more than one of you leaving at the same time.