How do I pump gas in Mérida?

Gulf gas station

Self-serve gas stations in Mérida and, for that matter Mexico are not common occurrences. As a matter of fact, I’ve yet to see a self-serve station in Mexico. The economy of Mexico is primarily service-based. So, it’s no surprise having an attendant pump your gas as the norm. The answer to the question, how do I pump gas in Mérida? The helpful station attendant does it for you! This article will cover many different and extremely important things in regards to how to pump gas in Mérida. I encourage you to read the entire article so that you can avoid unnecessary frustration and confusion at gas stations in Mérida.

Buying gas in Mexico

Here a few of the gas stations you’ll see in Mérida and Yucatan:

  • Pemex
  • La Gas
  • Costco
  • Gulf
  • ExxonMobil
  • Texaco
  • Lukoil
  • Valero
  • Glencore
  • Walmart
  • Supercarga

This list is a far cry from Pemex being the only available gas station. It is still a state-owned petroleum company created in 1938 by nationalized petroleum. The good news about Pemex? All gas prices were the same, no need to shop around. Due to the energy reforms in 2014, the market opened allowing other companies to compete. While you may see a slight variation in pricing, it is not dramatic.

Pemex gas station


Best gas stations in Mérida Mexico

Because Pemex is no longer the only brand in Mexico, you will find your favorite(s). Personally, I like La Gas because they are clean and the attendants are friendly. I’ve also found more of these attendants speak English than at Pemex but this may just be from personal experience. You will find a station close to your home or where you work that suits all of your needs. As you frequent the station, the attendants will become familiar with you to pump gas in Mérida. This is a win-win as you’ve made a good connection with someone that can help you with your car. Subsequently, you can help them with a good tip. Also, sometimes better stations are those where taxis fill up. Observe who is filling up to determine the best gas station for you. One thing to keep in mind . . .Gas stations are not as readily available as in the United States, especially on long stretches of highway.

5 simple tips for gas stations in Mérida Mexico

  • Attendants pump gas in Mérida for you.
  • There are not always gas stations on long stretches of highway.
  • It is always a good idea to fill up when you see a gas station.
  • Some attendants will wash your windshield and if asked, will check fluid levels.
  • A tip is appreciated for the attendants’ service. Depending on what they do, 10% is a good tip.

G500 Gas station

Safety tips for driving in Mexico

Is it safe driving in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Yes, it is absolutely safe driving in the Yucatan Peninsula. I definitely recommend becoming familiar with the map before you set out on your adventure.

Driving Tips:

  • If you are traveling on a holiday, plan for extra time going through toll booths.
  • Start with a full tank of gas as there will be long stretches between gas stations.
  • Phone signals will be intermittent.
  • In the event you are pulled over by the federal police, you will be asked to show your rental car agreement and any toll road receipts. Keep these handy at all times.

Is it safe driving from Cancun to Mérida?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to drive from Cancun to Mérida.

Driving Tips:

  • The distance is approximately 191 miles.
  • Stay on the toll road instead of the free road.
  • On the toll road, it will take you between 3.5 and 4 hours.
  • The free road is about the same distance.
  • Plan on another hour due to the speed bumps going through the small villages.
  • Drive during the day as the lighting on the road is very sparse.

Is it safe driving in Mérida?

Yes, it is absolutely safe driving in Mérida. If you need further navigation tips, here is a comprehensive guide to the Mérida map.

Driving Tips:

  • There are many one-way streets (look at street signs or how cars are parked.
  • Ensure you arrive into the city limits of Mérida at least one hour before dark.
  • Driving in Mérida can be quite tricky as the streets can be difficult to navigate.
  • Street parking can be limited.
  • You may want to rent a house with off-street parking to alleviate any parking issues.

Things to know about driving in Mérida

Mérida is fairly easy to navigate, once you understand how the streets are laid out.

The city is laid out in a grid with even-numbered north-south streets and odd-numbered east-west streets. Larger, even numbers begin in the west, reducing as you travel east. Larger, odd numbers begin in the south, reducing as you travel north.

Each neighborhood will have its own set of address numbers. For example, you will have a Calle 41 in several different neighborhoods. To reduce confusion, you will use the additional street numbers along with the zip code.

Mérida’s address structure is important to learn

A typical address will look like this:
Calle 41 559 x 80 y 82

Here is the breakdown:

Calle 41 (the street)
559 (the exact house/establishment number)
x 80 y 82 (between “x” streets 80 and “y” 82)
You will need to verify that the Calle 41 you need is between 80 and 82 for the correct destination.

You may also find that the address numbers do not run in consecutive order.
Remember you need to have all three parts of the address to find your destination.
Occasionally, you will see addresses with letters as well.
If you are unable to find your exact address, keep going. I guarantee you will eventually find it.

If you decide not to drive, you can always take Uber

la gas station


What are the gas stations like?

Gas stations are very similar to ones you are familiar with. There is one important exception to note. When you drive up, wait for the attendant to indicate which pump you will need to go to. If you don’t see an attendant, wait a few moments and one will appear. Attendants take turns to pump gas in Mérida. Not surprisingly, you will see some that are pristine and others that are quite dirty.

How is gasoline measured?

Mexico is on the metric system. All gasoline is measure in liters. Approximate pricing at the time this article was written is $18.00 – $22.00 pesos per liter. You will hear some people say that gas is expensive in Mérida however this is relative. When you compare taking an Uber vs. driving, it becomes more relevant depending upon your needs and budget.

Can I use the restroom at a gas station?

Yes, you can use the restroom at SOME gas stations. If the gas station does provide a restroom, it will be outside with an attendant, in most cases. You’ll need a few pesos for the restroom and to tip the attendant, not usually more than 10-15 pesos maximum for both.

What gas stations are in Mérida?

There are three gas stations that you will most likely see:

  • La Gas
  • Pemex
  • Gulf

If you are driving on the Periferico, there are other gas stations there as well as in some of the surrounding cities such as Caucel, Conkal, and Cholul.

How to avoid 5 scams at the gas station

Unfortunately, for many years, scams are known to happen at the gas station. This happened for many reasons however the most important things to remember:

  • Scams still happen but not as frequently.
  • Pay attention at all times.
  • Arm yourself with knowledge and information.
  • When in doubt, ask questions.

There is a consumer rights agency in Mexico called PROFECO. You can report any issues you have to this agency.

Scam #1 – Money switch

Pay close attention to the bill you give the attendant. Note both the color and the denomination. The attendant may try and convince you that you’ve handed him a smaller bill. This is most common with 20s and 200s and 50s and 500s. Don’t leave the station until you resolve the issue. While some people prefer to pay by credit card, issues happen from this form of payment too.

Scam #2 – Pump not at zero

This may be the most common scam. Before the attendant begins to pump your gas, make sure you see it has all zeroes. Honest attendants will point this out to you while you watch them do it.

Scam #3 – Topping off fluids

The great thing about gas station attendants is they will check your fluids, tire pressure, and wash windshields. If, when checking fluids, they tell you something is low, be sure to get out of the car and watch them. You may need topping off of fluids but you don’t need to pay for something you didn’t get.

Scam #4 – Being distracted

From the moment you drive up to the moment you leave, pay careful attention to what the attendant is doing. Don’t get distracted chatting with another attendant or the person in your car. Most scams happen because of opportunity not due to pre-planning.

Scam #5 – Method of payment

You want to pay with a credit card. The attendant tells you they don’t accept credit cards or that the machine isn’t working. He does, however, tell you they will accept American dollars and can exchange for you. Typically, the exchange rate will be much lower and you will lose money this way. One thing is certain . . .In order to avoid scams at the gas station, pay attention at all times.

red and white classic car at a gas station

Final thoughts on How do I pump gas in Mérida?

As you can see, there are some distinct differences between gas stations and pumping gas in Mérida. It is actually quite easy, once you become accustomed to the process. After I moved into my long-term rental, I scoured my neighborhood for the best gas station close to me. I found two that I really like and use them frequently when I have a rental car.

La Gas is my favorite because it is well lit, the attendants speak some English and are quite friendly. They make it a point to always indicate that the pump is on zero. Attendants are also careful when taking my money and bringing me the change. All these little things are much appreciated, of course. If you need a driving lesson, want to get your state of Yucatan driver’s license, or purchase a car, send me a message by clicking on the Mérida Consultations image below.