On a recent trip to the gas station, I started making notes about what my kids need to know, from how to pump gas to how to save at the pump. As the mom of an almost 16-year-old, I wanted to share with you everything parents need to teach teens about pumping gas and saving at the pump.
Everything Parents Need to Teach Teens About Pumping Gas
Before I go into any details, let me first provide a checklist of what every parent needs to teach their teenagers before they make their first solo trip to the gas station:
- Sign up for free rewards clubs for the gas stations you use
- Get gas on the days you get an additional discount
- Have payment method ready when you pull-in (credit cards can help you track your gas purchases and some credit cards offer additional cash-back on gas purchases)
- Know which side of the car your gas tank is on
- Know where the gas latch is inside the car
- Wait to open the gas latch until after payment has been authorized
- Verify what octane of gas works best with your model of car
- Lock all doors except the driver’s door while you pump gas
- Keep a small trashcan in your car and empty it at the gas station while you are filling your tank
- Do not “top off” your tank
- Once tank is filled, ensure gas cap is fully secured
- Use hand sanitizer after you get back in the car but before you touch the steering wheel
- Before starting the ignition, look around to make sure gas tank is closed, doors are locked and everything in the car is as you left it
- Start looking to refill your tank when you are about half empty, that way you will never get caught in a situation where you need gas.
How to Save on Gas
Gas remains once of the constant line-items in any adult’s budget. It’s up to each parent to decide whether or not they will make their teenage driver pay for gas. That being said, I firmly believe in the importance of making your child financially responsible for at least part of whatever it is you want them to care about. So while you may pay for their car insurance, consider having your teen pay for their own gas.
The first step in teaching your kids how to save on gas is to make them aware of how much gas costs. The only problem is that gas prices are constantly changing. I start by making my teenagers aware of the gas prices at the gas stations immediately surrounding our home. This way, they not only know the closest place to go to get the cheapest gas, they know whether it’s worth it to fill up the tank when driving in other parts of town.
Speaking of traveling, being aware of gas prices helps, but sometime you need to rely on a tool like a Gas Price Map. And because so many of us travel, that’s why I suggest signing up for ALL the gas station reward programs out there. Keep reading…
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Sign Up for Gas Station Rewards Programs
There is no reason not to sign up for EVERY gas station rewards program. As far as I know, all of them are free and they offer great perks, the most important being gas discounts!
That’s right, it typically only takes your name, address and phone number to get started with gas station perks. Many also offer a free App, but most just allow you to just to use your phone number (both at the pump and inside the convenience store) to take advantage of the rewards and discounts you earn.
For example, we live near several MAPCO gas stations. When I enter my phone number at the pump, I automatically get 3 cents off per gallon.
However, (usually) every Wednesday and Saturday night, I receive an email from MAPCO. When I click on it, I earn an additional gas discount for the next Thursday or Sunday – sometimes up to 12 cents off per gallon. Knowing this, I also plan my fill-ups around these days.
I’ve also learned that I can use my MAPCO discount at other gas station chains, like Delta. Plus, I earn points every time I fill up that can be used for everything from food discounts to charitable donations.
Here is a list of some of the most popular gas rewards programs:
And let’s not forget the grocery stores like Kroger where you can use shopping points for additional savings on gas. I also love Costco for their gas savings, which tend to be substantially lower than local gas stations (although you do have to be a Costco Member to use their gas pumps, which costs around $60 per year).
What is the Minimum Age to Pump Gas
If I’m thinking it, I’m guessing you may also be wondering what it the minimum age to pump gas. While not every state has rules for pumping gas, experts suggest you should wait until you have a driver’s license to pump gas. In the US, that means kids under 16 should not pump gas.
There are several reasons why kids should not pump gas, but safety stands out above them all. First of all, the gas fumes can be dangerous to younger children, especially those with lung and respiratory issues like asthma. Second of all, burns can happen easily if anyone is not careful while filling the tank.
Of course, logic would dictate that you would want your teenager to pump gas while they are in your presence at least a couple times before sending them out on their own after they get their driver’s license. I suggest talking younger teens through the process when they are in the car with you. After your teenager gets their driver’s permit, start walking them through the process so you can observe them from start to finish.
Car Cleaning Hacks
Who else but a mom would come up with brilliant car cleaning hacks? While I’m sure keeping a clean car isn’t a top priority for a new driver, it never hurts to start sharing these as early as possible. I also have a great list of car organization hacks too.
So there you have it: everything parents need to teach teens about pumping gas. Sure, these tips can vary based on where you live and when you read this (for example, during a pandemic!), but the basics remain the same. Equip your kids with as much information as possible and instruct them about who to contact when issues come up. Then, you as a parent will feel better about releasing your teens to the open road.