How Have Gas Stations Changed?

How Have Gas Stations Changed?

In our daily routine of providing fuel pump repair in San Antonio, TX, and the surrounding areas, we get to see a lot of different gas stations. Some are modern locations with the latest dispenser models, while others are a little bit older. The retail fuel industry moves so fast that even in the space of a few years, things have changed pretty drastically in terms of technology and equipment. We are constantly making sure that our technicians are training on the latest equipment to allow us to continue offering quality fuel pump repair in San Antonio, TX. That got us to thinking if things can change so quickly in 5 years, how much have gas stations changed in the last 100 years?

The First Retail Fuel Outlets

There were no gas stations in the early part of the 20th century as we would recognize them today. Drivers would simply purchase gas from some of the retail outlets in town, most commonly drug stores, hardware stores, and blacksmiths. Initially, gas was sold in open containers and later from free-standing pumps. There wasn’t much call for fuel pump repair in San Antonio, TX back then!

Fun Fact! The first pump to safely transfer gasoline from the barrel into the car was invented in 1905 by Sylvanus Freelove Bowser in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Even now, if you visit Australia or New Zealand, you will hear gas pumps referred to as ‘Bowsers’ in his honor!

Early Gas Stations

The invention of Bowsers pump gave rise to what would be the first businesses to resemble what we know as gas stations today. These businesses would sell the gas curbside, allowing drivers to pull up and get fuel. Some of the first purpose-built curbside gas stations were opened in St Louis in 1905 and Seattle in 1907. However, as the number of vehicles on the roads began to increase, curbside gas started to cause problems. By 1910, there were enough cars on the road that curbside refueling caused hold-ups in busier towns. They were even the first to sell commercial road maps in the United States!

America’s First Filling Station

In December 1913, the first drive-in service station in the country opened in Pittsburgh, PA. It was opened by Gulf Refining Company, starting a long tradition of refinery-owned gas stations. In addition to the gas pumps, the service station featured a brick pagoda building and offered services such as free air, water, crankcase service, and tire/tube installations. It wasn’t long before others followed, and by the end of the 1920s, there were around 200,000 gas stations in the United States!

The Gas Station Experience

In the past, visiting a gas station was quite an experience. One big difference for modern locations is that the gas station attendants wore stylish uniforms that included a button-down shirt, bow tie, and cap! These attendants would be on hand to take care of everything for you! We are used to pumping our own gas now, except for New Jersey and Oregon, but back in the day, as you drove into the gas station, it would trigger a bell summoning an attendant to pump your gas for you. They would also offer to check your oil and tire pressure and wash your windshield. Talk about full service!

Did You Know? The first self-service gas station was opened in 1947 in Los Angeles, CA. The mechanical pumps would be reset to zero after each customer by attendants on roller skates who would also collect payments!

Changing Technology

We were thinking back on how simple a gas station setup was in the past, highlighting just how far gas pump technology has come since then. In the past, gas station owners likely took care of their pumps without the need to hire someone for fuel pump repair in San Antonio, TX! Gone are the old-fashioned hand-cranked pumps and gravity-fed tanks. We have increasingly technologically advanced fuel dispensers with contactless payments, built-in video screens, personalized offers, and more! We have multiple grades of gas to choose from, ever-evolving payment methods, and soon we will be seeing an increase in charging stations for electric vehicles.

Maintaining Your Gas Station & Preparing For The Future

As you can see, gas stations have changed a great deal and they will continue to do so. It is important to keep a well maintained forecourt in order to give your customers the level of service they expect when choosing your location to fill up their gas. The best way to do this is to work with a petroleum service company to provide preventative maintenance and fuel pump repair in San Antonio, TX. This also means you will be best placed to prepare for upcoming changes in the industry. If you need advice on upgrading your dispensers, or whether or not you might need to think about introducing new technology like electric charging stations you can discuss these issues with your petroleum service company.

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PumpTex, Inc. was founded in 1997 in the back of a garage with the dream of bringing a new level of customer service to the retail petroleum service industry. Over the years, we have grown to become a valuable resource to our customers. Many consider us to be the first responders of the retail petroleum service industry!

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