Cold calculation in chasing the cheapest gas prices

I know that seeking the lowest gas price can be about getting the good deal, or just a psychological victory in coping with the shock of $4 a gallon of gas.  But with more and more Americans feeling that pinch in the pocket book we need to do the math in figuring out whether to chase those low gas prices.

Last fill up, I was averaging 25 miles per gallon, which I don’t understand as the previous fill up I was getting 30 mpg with the check engine light on.  Maybe I should have forgone that repair!

So at 25 mpg when gas is $4 per gallon, I am averaging 16 cents per mile in my gas costs.  Now my gas tank holds 13.2 gallons, let us say I fill up when there is 1.2 gallons left, so I am filling up 12 gallons, how far out of the way should I drive for how much savings.

Well if I know of a gas station that is 8 cents a gallon cheaper which means I save a whole 96 cents when filling up 12 gallons, means that I shouldn’t travel more than 3 miles one way or 6 miles roundtrip to break even.  Now if you are thinking green, if you are only driving out of the way to save some pennies on gas, then just give it up because of the greenhouse gas emissions.

The smartest thing you can do is pay attention to the prices of gas stations on your routes and when you need to fill up, go to the one that is usually the lowest.  On days when all the stations go up, well they all go up usually to the same price.  On the other days after they have started to fall, that station will likely be lower than the others as is usual.  For me this means never filling up at the Holiday Station on Franklin Ave in Minneapolis, it is almost always the highest station on my commuting and shopping routes.

-Josh

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1 Comment

  1. September 14, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    It is amazing that some people will drive out of their way, and even wait in line, to save a couple of cents per gallon. In general, you need to save about a dime a gallong to make more than a couple of blocks worth your while. Don’t forget there is a value for your time, even if you’re not on the clock.

    This is all part of the obscenity of gas prices.


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