Fill It Up
In our continuing series, Rules of the Road, we're giving you the lowdown on gassing up.
The full tank you received when you picked up your rental car will only get you so far. Eventually you will have to fuel up and figure out the petrol pumps. Gas stations can range from tiny one-pump roadside pull-offs to full-scale, monster truck-sized service plazas. They’re pretty basic but have their quirks.
The little pull-off pumps are generally full service, which is a good thing because there may not be room for you to exit your car with traffic streaming by. You simply drive in, they pump the gas and off you go. Frequently, they will also wash your windows and check your oil at no extra cost. Even larger gas stations with service-specific lanes may offer additional services that you don’t expect, even in the self-service lines. If not and the station is open, you simply fill your tank then pay the attendant.
Did you catch that line, if the station is open? A sign at the curb announces if a station is open Aperto or closed, Chiuso. Some may say Aperto but looked shuttered; that is because many stations offer 24 hour availability, even if an attendant is not present. At these pumps you must pay at a machine before pumping the gas. The machines take cash; some -- but not all -- take ATMs or credit cards. Frequently, one machine services several pumps so pay attention to which pumpnumber you’ve parked at. Insert the banknote, select the correct pump number and then choose your gas type (unleaded is called senza piombo; diesel is called gasolio). Beware: the machine does not make change!
Larger stations offer attendants to offer assistance and collect your money. They will check your oil or tire pressure on request. If you’re paying by credit card you generally have to go inside the store to complete the transaction. Most of the larger gas stations also have little shops and caffes, as well as restrooms, so you can fuel up on caffeine or snacks while filling up your car.
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