A fueling station is a business that sells gas for cars, trucks, and other automobiles. Depending on location, a fueling station may be known by any number of names; these include filling station, gas station, petrol bunk, petrol station, and gasbar. Some fueling stations offer additional automotive services, such as oil changes, tire repair, and other car repairs. This type of station providing extra services is often called a garage, service station, or petrol garage.
When automobiles first hit the roads, pharmacies were the chief suppliers of gas. This was often done as an additional source of income for the pharmacy. Since cars were rather rare when the auto industry was in its infancy, this small-scale, early fueling option met the limited demand for gas. The first recorded fueling station was part of a pharmacy in Wiesloch, Germany, and opened its doors in 1888. The inaugural customer was a member of the Benz family, of Mercedes-Benz fame, who refilled her car's tank at this station.
The first official fueling station opened in St. Louis in 1905. During this time, American automaker Henry Ford had developed the first gas-powered vehicles deemed affordable by the car-buying public. Subsequent gas stations sprung up in Seattle, Washington, and Altoona, Pennsylvania.
In a modern fueling station, the mechanisms that supply gas to the pumps are located beneath the ground. The gas pumps themselves are typically located in the front or, at some locations, at the sides of the building. The building itself is traditionally on the smaller side, with a cashier or attendant working inside who is able to switch the pumps on and off for customers. Certain fueling stations have attendants who will pump the gas for buyers; this was customary when stations were just beginning to become popular. In more recent times, the vast majority of gas stations have gradually evolved to a self-serve format with pay-at-the-pump options.
Many fueling stations offer far more than fuel. In addition to air tanks to refill tires, windshield cleaning paraphernalia, and vacuum cleaners to clean out car interiors, most fueling stations offer miniature supermarkets in which customers can purchase goods or use the restroom. The majority sell beverages and snack items, and many offer prepared foods and meals for a quick bite on the go. It is also common to see mechanics and car repair garages at gas stations, expanding the services offered and providing help to motorists with automobile issues.