Wishing for the return of full service petrol stations

The luxury of having someone else attend to whatever was necessary to keep your car running smoothly has long gone for most of us.

The luxury of having someone else attend to whatever was necessary to keep your car running smoothly has long gone for most of us.

It’s easy to be nostalgic for full service petrol stations. Driving in to be greeted by a friendly attendant with either a name badge or their name embroidered on their shirt. They’d greet you cheerily as you wound down your window and rattled off which sort of petrol and how much – usually either by dollar value or by ‘fill her up’ instruction.

If you were a regular the attendant might even remember your car and preferences like a seasoned barman would remember a regular’s drinking habits and beat you to the punch – ‘Fill her up with regular today?” with their hand already on the pump.

The shop would usually be a small attachment to a mechanical shop. The smells were all grease, grime and petrol fumes.

It was handy to have someone knowledgeable who would check your oil, water, and air in your tyres and top them up if needed, before cleaning your windscreen, collecting payment and waving you on your way.

We didn’t have to get out of the car, very handy on rainy days, or if we had children in the car.

Now we have to remember to lock our cars, or at least remove the key from the ignition so no one can drive off with it while we wait in line to pay for our fuel.

As with most things there were positives and negatives, and some scary moments as the changes were brought in.

Until we got used to it, many of us spilled petrol over the car or driveway, or worse our shoes!

If we didn’t learn to add oil and water to our own routine, our car would have to tell us, hopefully before we blew something crucial. Red lights on the dashboard, heart pumping and hoping the engine wouldn’t blow up before you got to an open petrol station to refill either of them.

While no one seemed to mind if an attendant was refilling your oil, water or tyres, once we started doing it ourself people either became impatient or self-conscious about taking that much time in the driveway.

The businesses learned that people behind you at the petrol pumps didn’t want to wait while you fiddled with oil, water or air and eventually dedicated water and air ‘stations’ were provided away from the petrol pumps.  With people more likely checking their oil and water at home, petrol stations probably don’t sell very much oil at all anymore. At one time it would might been their second biggest seller behind petrol.

But then again, they do now sell grocery items, lollies and coffees that you would have only seen at the bigger ‘roadhouses’ on the highway.

It’s another completely different service, shopping and smelling experience that we’ve all grown used to.

Do you prefer self service or driveway service?



  1. Anne Wolski  

    Luckily, in Toowoomba, we still have a couple of places that do it for you. They usually get my business

  2. Kathleen  

    Oh! Wouldn’t that be marvellous!

    We lost the service, have to do all ourselves, AND the petrol cost is exorbitant!

    Should have ‘car mechanical course 101’ at Grade 12 level, for all!

  3. Heather A  

    We have a full-service petrol station near us. One day, after filling the car with petrol, the attendant checked my car’s tyres, found one was quite flat and directed me to the service bay where another guy diagnosed a faulty valve. He replaced it, free of charge. That’s what I call service.

  4. Drene Hall  

    Lucky if you can get help with Air even these days. And Hot Summer days leaving children in the car while you line up to pay is against the law to leave a child in a hot car. How come thats not overlooked totally. Customer Service. Dont think so. D.👱

  5. Bruzz  

    I used to work in a garage during the school holidays (in Petersham) & loved doing all of this,.

  6. Penny Shepherd  

    This would also provide more employment. I would happily pay a small surcharge to see this type of service come back. I agree, there would be less delays at the pumps. I come from South Africa and it is one of the things I miss – a joy to be greeted by the pump attendants and they even wash your windscreen and back window for you, as well as checking oil, water and putting in tyre pressure. Always happy to give them a tip for their good service.

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