Truck Stop Fueling Etiquette

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Those of us driving large, diesel-powered recreational vehicles will soon realize that many gas stations cannot accommodate us. Fueling up at truck stops is preferable for a number of reasons: they are easily accessible from interstates; the islands and driveways can accommodate the largest of RV’s; pump nozzles on both sides can fill two tanks without re-positioning; and, the cost of diesel tends to be less expensive.

My first trip to the truck stop was intimidating. After all, who do I think I am, a mere RVer, encroaching on the turf of professional drivers? I went in with the assumption that in a truck stop, like anywhere else in life, consideration for others would go a long way. As I waited for my turn, I observed the truckers fueling.

During my first visit, and numerous visits since then, I have observed the following things to do and not to do while fueling up in a truck stop:

  • First and foremost, do not unnecessarily delay others waiting behind you. A truck driver friend told me, “Every minute waiting to fuel is money out of my pocket.”
  • If you have tanks on both sides of the RV to fill, position the vehicle so that both nozzles reach. This will allow you to fill up quicker, using both pumps simultaneously.
  • Go inside to leave your credit card with the cashier. Most fueling islands have a telephone handset to request the pumps be unlocked, but truck stops have been phasing out the practice of unlocking them over the phone for non-truckers.
  • If the only tank you are filling is on the right hand side, you must remove the nozzle from the left pump and turn it on before the right pump will operate. This is because the pump on the right side is a “slave” to the controlling pump on the left.
  • Don’t waste time trying to use your credit card at the truck pumps—they only take fleet credit cards, not consumer cards. One exception I have seen are the RV pumps at Flying J; they look like consumer pumps at gas stations and they do take consumer credit cards.
  • Cleaning windshields is acceptable while pumping fuel, not after. Truck stop attendants are not shy about yelling at you over the speakers, if you continue cleaning after the pumps have stopped. The guy behind you may be fooled by the nozzle still in the tank, but the attendant knows when fuel is no longer pumping.
  • As soon as you are finished pumping, drive the RV forward to clear the island and allow the next person to pull in. Most truck stops have a line drawn on the pavement so that you know how far to pull up. Then go inside and pay.
  • Immediately after paying the fuel bill, but before doing anything else (such as shopping or taking bathroom breaks), move your RV out of the fueling lanes and into the parking area.

To further ease my discomfort at entering the truckers’ world, I have asked several truck stop managers how they felt about RV’s fueling up. Their answer: I’m a paying customer, just like the trucks. If you feel intimidated fueling up with the pros, just remember to be a courteous consumer and truck stops will be happy to do business with you

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Original founder and writer for Changin' Gears. Former full-time RVer!

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