Gas in Mexico: How and Where to Fill Up Your Tank

Gas in Mexico: How and Where to Fill Up Your Tank

One of the many questions that we receive when it comes to driving in Mexico is how to fill up gas in Mexico, including which gas station to choose.  

In this article, we will tell you what to expect and what your options are.

Besides, we will hand you some practical tips and information to avoid being a victim of common gas station scams.

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Gas Stations in Mexico

Let’s start with the basic information: gas stations in Mexico. What can you choose from? You will find many Mexican brands and some international brands. Some, you will only find in specific states, while others can be found across the country.

You can shop around for better prices and services, as service station brands set their own prices for gasoline and diesel.

In general, Pemex and Oxxo Gas stations have better prices and services than other providers.

Keep in mind that gas stations alongside highways are more expensive than those in villages or cities.

OXXO gas station in Mexico
You can find Oxxo Gas in most parts of Mexico.

Examples of gas stations in Mexico are the following:

  • Pemex: Pemex (short for Petróleos Mexicanos) is the biggest and most famous gas station in Mexico. Until 2017, this was the only brand in charge of gasoline in the country and government-owned. You will find Pemex throughout Mexico with often more than one gas station per city.
  • Oxxo Gas: Oxxo Gas is another big Mexican gas station brand that you will find throughout the country. It often comes with the convenience store called Oxxo, where you can get (fast) food, personal hygiene items, and drinks.
  • Orsan: This brand has about 150 gas stations throughout the country, some of which carry the sign “Orsan,” while others are called “Mobil” or “Pemex,” as the company works via a multi-brand scheme.
  • Abimehri: This is a Yucatán-based gas station brand, of which you will find many in the state of Yucatán. Besides gasoline, it also offers regular gas to use at home, and even tow cranes.
  • La Gas: La Gas is a big group that has service stations in the states of Oaxaca, Campeche, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. It often comes with the convenience store GoMart.

Finding Gas Stations

If you are not sure how to look for gas stations, you can use either of these techniques.

  • Check for the road sign or a gas tank, look for signs that have one of the above (or other) names of gas stations.
  • Use Google Maps and search for “Gas Stations.”
PEMEX in Mexico
PEMEX is the biggest gas station brand in Mexico. You can find them throughout the country.

Tips: Are you making a road trip with long distances to bridge? Make sure to fill up your tank before leaving a major city, or fill it up whenever you see one along the highway. For example, between Cancun and Merida, there is currently only one gas station in the middle of the 350-kilometer highway!

Types of Gas

Gasoline in Mexico is measured via the metric system, which means that it is charged per liter.

There are three types of gas in Mexico:

  • Regular gas (green / verde), which is the cheapest option.
  • Premium gas (red / rojo), sometimes called magna. This is the most expensive option.
  • Diesel

While there are many pumps available in a gas station, normally, only one or two are used.

How to Fill Up Gas in Mexico

Good to know: All gas stations in Mexico are full service. That means that an attendant will help you fill up your gas. He or she will flag you to the pumping station, ask you which type of gasoline you would like, and will tell you that the counter on the pump shows “zero” before filling up the fuel.

You can ask the attendant to either fill up the tank (lleno), or to tell a specific amount in Mexican Pesos.

full-service gas stations in Mexico.
All gas stations in Mexico are full service. You can just tell an attendant on how much you want to fill up your gas tank.

Payment Methods

You can pay for your gasoline in Mexico in cash or by using a credit card.

However, it is always a good idea to carry cash. The first reason for this is that the card payment system of the gas station is not working when you fill up your gas – especially in remote areas, this is common.

The second reason is that some practices at gas stations might be scams, so if you suspect this, never pay by card and use cash.

Paying by Card – Watch out for Skimming

A great place for criminals to skim (copy) your card’s details, is the gas station.

Here are some tips that can help you to check that your card’s details are not getting skimmed:

  • Skimming devices location: Know that skimming devices often rest hidden alongside or below commonly used payment terminals. So, check how the card and the payment terminal are handled. It is best when your card uses a chip and pin.
  • Keep eyes on an attendant: Never let the attendant go out of sight with your card. He or she should bring a portable card payment machine to the car, and not leave the site.
  • Pay close attention: Do not get distracted and pay close attention to how the card is handled.
  • Use credit cards: Use credit cards instead of debit cards, as it is harder to get your money back from a debit card. Banks are often easier towards clients when it comes to returning money/letting payments go after skimming when it was done with a credit card.
  • Keep eyes on your account: Make sure to check your account while traveling, to see if all transactions on the card are made by you, after you use it at a gas station.

Additional Services

Gas stations in Mexico come with additional services, might you need them.

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Examples are an attendant that cleans the windshield for you, checks or fills your oil, fills your vehicle with water or coolant, replaces your windshield wiper blades, or checks your tire pressure. You pay for these services and can give an additional tip.

Tipping at Gas Stations

Whenever an attendant at a gasoline station fills up your tank, they should be tipped. Usually, a tip between 10 to 20 MXN pesos is given.

If additional services are performed, such as checking the oil or tire pressure, you may want to add another extra 10 to 20 MXN pesos.

Convenience Stores

Gas stations in Mexico often come with convenience stores. You can find a lot of foods, beverages, coffee, hot and cold snacks, personal hygiene, and pharmaceutical products in these stores.

Often, restrooms are inside the convenience store or can be found adjacent to them.

rural road in Mexico
When driving out of town, you should plan your trip well. Sometimes, there’s only a single gas station available for a 200km trip.

If you need to recharge the calling credit (saldo) for your phone, you can also do that at a convenience store. Examples of such stores are Oxxo and GoMart, amongst others.

At some gas stations, you can also find renowned brands such as Starbucks, Carl’s Jr., or Subway. It is also common to find a local restaurant that serves Mexican food.

Gas Station Scams

Besides the aforementioned skimming scams when you pay by card at a gas station, there are other scams to watch out for when you fill up your tank in Mexico.

  • Not zeroing the gas pump: A scam that is most heard of is not zeroing the gas pump (your amount in liters will start running with another amount still in place). You can avoid this easily by checking the zeros on the liters, by watching the numbers on the pump.
  • Incorrect receipt: An extension to this scam is that the amount on the receipt is not correct. Always make sure that the amount on your receipt coincides with the amount mentioned on the pump.
  • Give wrong change: If you opt for a cash payment, make sure to check your change. Sometimes, attendants give you change for a smaller bill than what you gave them. It is always a good idea to count the pesos as you hand them to the attendant and to count them once the attendant hands you your change.
  • Double charges: When paying by card, you should also watch out for double charges. Avoid this by paying in cash or by setting up notifications that alert you with any attempt of purchase.

Apart from these scams, it is never a good idea to leave your vehicle unattended with your personal belongings inside. Especially when it comes to gas stations alongside highways.

Always take everything of value out of the car, such as bank cards, cash, identification documents, phones, laptops, etc. Make sure to return to the vehicle as soon as possible.

Now, onto you

We hope that you feel more confident the next time you have to fill up your gas in Mexico after having read this article. At least, you now know what to expect and how to react.

If you want to know more about road regulations and driving conditions, check out our other article on how to drive in Mexico. Safe travels!

Avatar photo
Debbie Vorachen is a Cultural Anthropologist and Content&Copywriter. She was born and raised in the Netherlands and has been living in Mexico for 8 years now. Debbie love to write and her other passions are yoga and meditation. She is currently based in Mérida, Yucatán.

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