If you'll be driving on your trip to Mexico, at some point you will need to buy gas. Not to worry, it is very straightforward. Since petrol is nationalized in Mexico, there is only one company that is authorized to sell gas: Pemex. This is a state-owned company, and all Pemex stations across Mexico sell gas at the same price so you don't need to look around for the best deal. If you'll be traveling long distances, remember to fill up your tank at major towns because there can be long stretches of highway with no gas stations.
Should you run out of gas near a small village, ask around and you may find someone who sells gas from containers.
Buying Gas at Pemex
Pemex stations are all full service, so you will not pump your own gas. Pemex stations sell three different types of gas: Magna (regular unleaded), Premium (high octane unleaded), and diesel. Let the attendant know how much you want and which type. Gasoline is measured in liters, not in gallons in Mexico, so when figuring out how much you're paying for gas, remember that one gallon is equal to 3.785 liters.
Payment at gas stations is usually in cash, but some stations do accept credit cards and debit cards. You may have to get out of your car to go to the machine and type in your PIN number. The attendant will let you know if that is the case.
It is customary to tip gas station attendants only if they perform some extra service like washing the windshield or checking your tires or oil, in which case, tipping between five and twenty pesos depending on the service is fine.
Useful Phrases at the Gas Station
- "Lleno de Premium, por favor" (yeh-no deh preh-mee-oom por fah-vor) Fill 'er up with Premium, please.
- "Cien pesos de Magna, por favor." (see-ehn peh-sohs deh mag-na por fah-vor) One hundred pesos of Magna, please.
- "¿Puede lavar el parabrisas, por favor?" (poo-eday lah-var el para-bree-sas, por fah-vor) Would you please wash the windshield?
Avoid Gas Station Scams
When the gas station attendant begins to pump your gas, check to make sure the counter on the pump starts at 0.00. It happens rarely, but some attendants may (purposefully or not) neglect to reset the counter before pumping, making you pay for more gas than you actually receive. You should also remain attentive while stopped at the gas station and make sure you don't leave valuables next to an open window.
Also read: What is a tope?