For the diesel truck owners out there, hitting truck stops on the highway are a great way to get fuel and get on your way with the least amount of fuss and stress of getting around a crowded station. There is a point or two of etiquette that should be remembered (bearing in mind, most everyone around you is “on the job”), but it’s the quickest and easiest in/out with your rig attached.
Etiquette / The Process
Let me first broach the subject of “truckers get mad if you’re there”. Truth is, there may be a bad apple occasionally, but overwhelmingly I have never felt an iota of ill-will from anyone at the truck stops. I’ve had truckers ask me about my truck and how it pulls. I’ve had truckers hold doors and laugh at my kids antics as we make our way through the stores. And I’ve gotten smidges of help when making my way around their parking lots (had a truck tell me to keep going instead of having to get out to check a blind corner as I was parking one day).
When you pull into the truck stop, there may be a “dispatcher” type of person telling folks which lanes to go to on really busy days. Line up like one of the big boys and wait your turn and go where they tell you. Easy-peasy.
If there is no dispatch, shoot for an empty lane because likely you’ll be done and out before the guy beside of you. If there are no empty lanes, you take your best guess at which lane will wrap up the quickest.
Once you’re done fueling, pull forward so the next trucker can get in behind of you to start filling up while you go in and pay or hit the head. If you’re going to be longer than a few minutes, you should go park your camper in one of the truck spots. Consider it good backing-in practice.
Starting The Pump & Credit Cards
This has to be the biggest con against using truck stops – their pumps are setup for commercial fleet cards. Which means, unless you have a pump authorization card, you have to go inside to have the pump activated. The process is simple- you go inside, give your card and an estimate for how much you’ll need (shoot high, it’s annoying to have to go back in and add more). You go back out and fuel up. Pull forward. If you want, you can go back in and they’ll immediately refund the difference between your estimate and your actual use. If you don’t go in, they’ll refund the difference sometime later that day (I assume it is when they settle up the register). Since my wife and I almost always travel together, she goes in while I pump. She’ll get snacks or drinks or use the bathroom while I pump and then she’ll settle up the pump when I’m finished.
Get a Pump Authorization Card! I’m honestly not sure why it took me 2 years of traveling with my diesel truck to finally get a Pilot/Flying J RV Plus card. The best benefit is that you get to start the pumps with it. The other best benefit is that you get a 6 to 9 cent discount on the cash price (where the cash price is usually 5 cents cheaper than the credit price for a total of a 11 to 14 cent discount).
High Flow Nozzles – be aware, these fuel pumps and nozzles are designed for the big rigs and are high flow nozzles. For my Ram 3500, I usually start the pump at about 1/2 speed and then slowly let up until it’s running at full speed. I’ve had it spit diesel fuel back at me a time or two when I just open it wide open.
It’s Not All Rainbows And Sparkly Glitter
First, read the “starting the pump & credit cards” section above. If you don’t have a pump authorization card, you have to go inside to authorize the pump, come back out, fuel up, pull forward, go back in and settle up. And, not all companies offer a pump authorization card to RVers. Kudos to Pilot/Flying J.
Second, the diesel pump handles themselves are dirty – like first birthday, eating cake straight fro the cake pan dirty, only not as pleasantly smelling. I keep a pair of nitrile coated gloves under my driver’s seat for diesel fill ups. I didn’t want to the wastefulness of disposables. Before getting them, I used baby wipes to clean my hands but I felt like it didn’t get rid of the smell.
Lastly, the ground is usually stained with spilled fuel. You really have to watch where you step. Some folks on RV forums claim to wear booties (especially those in motorhomes where you’re tracking nastiness into your living area), but I’ve never felt the need to go that far.
Satellite Pumps on the wrong side
I had one instance in western Maryland when I pulled up to the pump where the “computer” portion of the pump was on the wrong side of my truck. I went inside to give my card up and the girl asked if I had ever used a satellite pump before. My confused look was all of the answer that she needed. When I got back outside, it took me a few minutes to realize what she told me:
- Take the nozzle off of the pump on the computer/my truck’s passenger side and place it into the garbage can there.
- That activated the pump.
- Go to the other side of my truck, where my gas tank is and use that fuel pump to fill my truck (you could watch the computer registering the gallons).
- Hang both up when I was done.
- Pull forward and go inside to settle up.