March 1, 2006
A retail establishment that sells fuels like petrol and diesel and lubricants for road motor vehicles is called a gas station. Sometimes, vehicles can be not only refueled there, but also serviced and repaired. The increase in the number of automobiles in United States led to the need of the first gas station, which was built in 1907, by Standard Oil of California.
The United States has two types of filling stations: the ones selling premium-branded gas and those selling discount-branded gas. Premium-brand gas includes international brands, like Esso, Mobil, and BP, and non-international brands like Pemex and Petro-Canada. Premium-brand filling stations accept credit cards and have their own company cards, but charge higher prices. The discount-brand stations are smaller regional chains or independent stations that offer cheaper gas. These stations usually accept cash, with only a few accepting credit cards. Gas stations in rural areas allow customers to pump gas first and pay later; however due to the high incidence of crime in urban areas, customers there have to pay first and pump gas after. Most of the gas stations in the United States offer a choice between full-service and self-service gas stations. In full-service gas stations, an attendant operates the pump, checks the vehicle’s oil, wipes your car’s windshield, and then collects payment and a small tip. In self-service gas stations, the customer has to pump the gas himself. Until the 1970s, full service was the norm, but nowadays, not all stations offer full service and those that do, charge more for the full-service fueling. Using an open flame in a gas station is strictly forbidden because of the risk of igniting gasoline vapors.
Gas stations usually have toilets; the cleanliness and standards vary with the type of gas station. Many gas stations have convenience stores selling food, beverages, lottery tickets, motor oil, and sometimes auto parts. However, prices here are higher than those in a supermarket or discount store. Depending on state laws, some gas stations also sell wine, beer, and liquor and sometimes even allow the operation of slot and video poker machines. Some gas stations have free or discount-priced car washes, while others have small fast food outlets like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, or Wendy’s, with limited seating and menus.
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