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The 2 States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas

Published on August 19th, 2022 by Christina Nellemann

motorhome at gas station - feature image for states where you can't pump your own gas

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

No matter what state you live or travel in, gas prices are a big topic these days. However, many of us take for granted that we can pump that gas into our vehicles ourselves. Residents and visitors in two states are not so lucky.

In Oregon and New Jersey, gas station attendants will pump your gas—not you.

Oregon and New Jersey are the two US states where it is illegal to pump your own gas. You are required to stay in your vehicle and let a station attendant pump your gas. There are various reasons for this and we’ll get to them. The problem with this law seems to be that during busy times and with a lack of station attendants, gas lines in these states can get long.

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On road trips into and out of Oregon, my husband and I actively try to avoid gassing up because the process is so annoying. We’ll pay the higher prices in California or gas up ourselves in Nevada or Washington instead. I’m sure that travelers in New Jersey may try the same thing in neighboring states.

Why can’t you pump your own gas in Oregon and New Jersey?

The laws for these states have been around for over 70 years and were created for several reasons.

In Oregon, the law is a little more relaxed than New Jersey’s and only applies to counties with more than 40,000 residents. In New Jersey, the ban is completely statewide. The legislature for each state has come up with various reasons why the no self-serve ban is in effect:

  • The ban is due to health hazards caused by gas fumes and the potential for fires caused by cigarettes or lighters.
  • Service attendants can keep an eye on safety standards while pumping gas.
  • Insurance rates for gas stations increase when customers are allowed to pump their own gas.
  • The cost of fuel stays down 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.

Whether or not these reasons are true, they were enough to make it a law. In each state, any station attendee or owner that allows a customer to fuel up their own car can face fines up to several hundred dollars.

Residents of each state are used to it and even enjoy it on rainy or stormy days when they don’t have to get out of their cars. In fact, some New Jersey residents even pride themselves on the ban with t-shirts stating, “Jersey girls don’t pump gas.”

Will the laws change?

However, with COVID-19 restrictions, lack of labor, and record gas prices, both these laws may change in the future. Gas station owners are struggling to even keep their stations open if they can’t fulfill the full-service requirement. Perfectly capable adults also want to pump their own gas.

In both states, bills were brought up this year to change the law and add a self-service option. Both bills failed to pass.

It seems that a 70-year-old law is more difficult to turn around once you get used to it.


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21 thoughts on “The 2 States Where You Can’t Pump Your Own Gas”

  1. New Jersey has cheaper gas prices than all the self-serve states surrounding us, and we can still afford to pay our attendants.

    Reply
  2. First of all, let us stop calling it Full-Service because it’s not. There are no washing windows, checking tires, topping off the oil, or all the other things that Full-Service stations and attendants used to offer.
    Secondly, this is only for pumping gas, not diesel. And I realize that diesel is not combustible, but if other states don’t have stations blow up every time a driver pumps their own gas. Then I feel the “Safety” argument is invalid.
    Thirdly, the prices are higher to cover the payroll, because as soon as you cross into Delaware the price per gallon drops by $.30 to $.40.
    It’s just a tradition that the state refuses to let go of. Period.

    Reply
  3. Latest News, The Oregon House on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow self-service options at every gas station in Oregon, raising a real possibility the state will cast off its place as one of just two states still forbidding many drivers from touching the pump.

    The chamber passed House Bill 2426 on a 47-10 vote, with several lawmakers saying their constituents had made it clear they’d like the legal right to fill their own tanks. The bill now moves to the Senate.

    Reply
  4. I lived in Oregon for several years and drove auto and Semi truck.l personally thought it was a good idea for attendant to pump gas.One reason it creates first time jobs for High school kids and tax money for the state.lt also let me relax on a trip to coast
    I am sure there are opposite opinion,l however try to manage my time so I don’t have to hurry anywhere.

    Reply
  5. Let’s be honest. It’s a state directed work program. That’s it. Millions of people across the 48 other states in this great nation, including the elderly and girls, safely and efficiently pump their own gas every day. If you want to see how popular it is in Oregon and New Jersey, just make it an option. Let stations offer full and self serve. They did that for many decades in other states. Guess which option most people prefer when given the choice?

    Reply
    • If offered at the same price, or maybe 5, at most 10 cents a gallon more, I would continue to use the full service option. But then again, I was born and raised in NJ.

      Reply
  6. Does it means truckers don’t have to fuel there own trucks? does it means diesel rv don’t have to fill there own tank?

    Reply
  7. What a joke. I’ve seen cases where attendants start putting gasoline in a diesel car (Lawsuit pending) . 50 yrs ago it was different. Taxes were less, government didn’t push so much, and we don’t need 4 lane roads everywhere. Learn how to drive idiots…. we have wasted so much money on changing intersections, bypasses, go-arounds… it has done nothing. 5 yrs later change them. If you not know how to drive, don’t. Building something new doesn’t fix what isn’t broke. Electric cars going to go bankrupt time after time. Sci-fi movies screwed up to many political peoples minds.

    Reply
    • Have a friend with a 2-week old $200,000 Mercedes Sprinter van. Attendant in Bend Oregon did not read the fuel cap saying “Diesel Only” & filled it with unleaded gas. Van stopped running 2 miles from the station. By then the unleaded had completely cycled through the diesel engine. At least a $20,000 repair & who knows if van will ever really be the same. Plus all the time & money to file a lawsuit. Really?

      Reply
  8. I am an Oregonian. I don’t mind someone else pumping my gas because it rains a lot in the winter months. I stay dry inside my car. Oregon prides itself on being unique. That may be why they voted to keep it illegal.

    Reply
  9. Not entirely true. You can self-serve at Oregon trucks stops where most folks fill up large RV’s as depicted in your cover photo. I believe all diesel pumps in Oregon are self-serve as well.
    And yes, very frustrating having to wait for an attendant to buy gas at regular gas stations.

    Reply
  10. Somewhat false.
    As a Resident of Oregon, and Cls A Diesel owner, we are allowed to pump diesel ourselves. As far as gassers go, no self pumping, attendant assist.
    If you are on two wheels (MC) pump your own. NJ I have no information.

    The law in oregon by the State Fire Marshall, concerned about pump fires due to improper “person grounding” when pumping gasoline, gasoline spills.

    I see this all the time in other states – drivers will get out of the vehivle, set the nozzle and start the pump. They return to the drivers seat until the nozzle clicks, pump off. Slide out of the seat and reach for the nozzle (zap!) static electricty discharge. There is enough energy (heat) available in the spark to start a fire if, there is sufficient fuel vapors within the spark zone. All pumps warn users to discharge first, but drivers ignor or do not realize the hazard. If the Nozzle has a vapor recovery hood, this prevents fuel vapors from potential ignition. This situation is more noticeable during winter months when the air is dry.

    Reply
  11. Hi Christina,
    We spend a lot of time on Oregon coast near Lincoln City and the Spirit Mountain Casino Shell station let’s you pump your own diesel or gas. 100 % self service and prices are the lowest around. Not sure if maybe because of Indian Reservation?

    Reply
  12. It’s really annoying when the station attendant attempts to put Gas in a diesel vehicle and then argues with you for getting out and stopping him/her. I will and prefer to select and pump my own fuel.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for your article, however…
    At least in Oregon, while not allowed to pump ones own gasoline, one can pump diesel, at least that is what several stations have told me.
    When I am towing, my tow vehicle uses diesel, so I pump my own (I come from California so this is not new to me). This is especially good in some stations where the diesel pumps are not located with the gasoline pumps.
    I realize your article is completely accurate as you use the word “gas”, short for gasoline. But many readers may still think that applies to diesel as well.

    Reply
  14. The author failed to address the pumping of diesel at truck stops.
    Since I have a second fuel tank in the bed of my TV I have been not only allowed, but requested to pump the fuel into it.

    Reply
  15. People who are old, have health issues or handicaps don’t need to be hopping out of their cars to pump gas and attendants are earning a wage when and paying taxes!!! Oregon girls don’t pump gas either!!!

    Reply
  16. I totally avoid buying fuel in these two states along with Pennsylvania also which generally has the highest fuel costs on the East coast.

    Reply

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