Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Getting petrol (gas) in Orlando - a guide for British tourists

So you have made the decision to drive in Orlando on your vacation.  At some point during the trip you will need to fill up the car with gas (petrol).  You might be tempted by the slick car hire rep to return the car empty and let them fill it up, don't do it!

Filling up at an American gas station is really no harder than in the UK but there are a couple of extra things you will need to think about.  If you are a local reading this you might think that this is really obvious but as a Brit doing it for the first time it can be daunting.

All gas payments must be made in advance, this can either be through a credit card or paying cash at the counter. Until chip and pin cards are finally used everywhere you will not be able to use your British credit card at the pump as it asks for the zip code that the credit card is registered to.

Before I go through the steps of paying for gas it is worth mentioning location.  There are many reasonably priced gas stations around Disney and International Drive but the closer you get to the airport the greater the cost.  You can find out current prices here at If you are visiting Disney on your last morning before returning to the airport you can fill up there and still have a full tank when you get back.  We found the HESS on World Drive very pleasant and accommodating of tourists.

The biggest difference between the UK and America is the price of gas.  Currently you can be paying anything up to $6 a gallon for gas here in the UK compared to the $2.21 in Orlando (rough calculation).

Step 1: Check which side your petrol cap is on and where the button is to open it

Step 2: Have a rough idea of how big your fuel tank is, as a rough estimate; 

Small car 12 gallons
Mid-size car 16 gallons
Full-size car 18 gallons
SUV 20+ gallons

Step 3: Do a rough sum of how much is it going to cost based on how much of a tank you will need.

I filled up a full-size car when the tank was half empty - roughly 9 gallons.  At $2.21 dollars a gallon I knew it was going to be around $20

Step 4: Go into the shop and ask the cashier to put $20 on the pump you are using.

Step 5: Most pumps offer a selection of different grade gas.  I went for the cheapest! Before you put the nozzle in your car and check again if you have diesel or petrol.  At this point you may have to press a selector button for the gas you want.  This was the moment I wondered what had gone wrong as nothing was happening.  I had missed the sign saying "lift the switch" beneath the pump holder.  

Step 6: If you have not used the full amount you will then need to go back in and ask for your change.  I would always ask for a receipt to prove that you have returned the car full to the hire company.