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Why Do Gasoline Prices Vary by Location?

Do you take the time to look for less expensive alternatives to fill up your vehicles fuel tank? I’ve noticed that the service stations in my neck of the woods tend to have consistent pricing levels. Some are always high, some are always low, some ride the middle line, and some are extraordinarily high. I make my fueling choices based on the 1) the quality of the fuel and 2) the price. Brand doesn’t matter, as long as it’s quality fuel.

I had to fill up a test car with premium fuel this afternoon and had a bit of extra time, so I checked the prices at a handful of local stations. I was shocked by the astronomical price difference or “spread” as it’s referred to in the biz. In this video, I compared the prices at four different gas stations in one region.


The difference between the least and most expensive service stations was a whopping sixty cents per gallon for unleaded regular. On a vehicle with a 20-gallon fuel tank, that adds up to $12 per fill. That’s a significant amount of money when you consider the costs over the course of a year. How do service stations get away with charging a huge price differential?

The transportation fuel industry is largely a monopoly, as the majority of internal combustion engine-equipped passenger vehicles rely on petroleum. The industry literally has us over a barrel. While choices do exist (like electric cars and flex-fuel capable vehicles), the infrastructure is inadequate in many locations. This is changing, but not fast enough.

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2 comments ↓

#1 Jonathan on 01.19.18 at 4:31 pm

I agree I don’t understand how they can charge more for gas in a different part of town. For example where I live. I live in Augusta, GA & we have a connecting county that has people with a higher cost of living & the household income is a lot more. And the gas price there you would think would be higher but it’s not it’s cheaper most of the time. Go Figure!

#2 Paul on 01.29.18 at 11:11 pm

You didnt explain why gas prices vary from locations and store.

Honestly I believe the whole gasoline industry is collusion. Its all gouging and fixed. Paying $5 gallon is nutts in Ontario. Gas should be less than $1 a gallon. There is no reason it shouldnt. Its a monopoly at every corner or trade. The USA selling OPEC to the mideast was the worst decision ever made.
The USA and Canada produce their own Gas but sell it abroad to make more money due to opportunity costs. It should be illegal. We shouldnt be selling gas overseas then buyingbit overseas. Makes no sense and hurts the consumer economy.
People camt afford to drive anymore when gas is $55 to fill up small car and insurance starting st $400 month in Toronto.

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