Gas station prices and quality

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Luckywon
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Gas station prices and quality

Post by Luckywon » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:13 pm

I've always wondered why people choose to fill up at a particular gas station when prices more than $1/gallon cheaper are to be found 3 blocks away. I have filled up for 20 years at a United Oil gas station which is the lowest in my area by quite a bit and never noted any problem. Am I missing something? Would appreciate any insights as to whether other factors besides price should be considered. (Obviously if you are running on empty price is not an issue.)
Last edited by Luckywon on Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Morik
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Morik » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:19 pm

https://www.edmunds.com/car-care/is-che ... r-car.html
http://www.consumerreports.org/car-main ... tra-price/
I use Shell & Mobile, but my car has a turbo engine that tends towards running dirty.

I alternate between the two every 5k miles so their particular detergents can work out whatever they can. I switch around because I recall reading some article a while back that said the detergent itself can build up, but if you switch to a different detergent it can help clean out the buildup of the old one. But if you switch every fill-up, for instance, you'll just end up with a buildup of a mix of the two detergents... not sure how scientific that is (I'm more than a little skeptical), but I have plenty of both types of stations around me, so no harm to me.

If I wasn't trying to keep my car running well for a long time, or if I had a non-turbo dirty-burning engine, I'd probably just fill up just wherever.

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Blueskies123
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Blueskies123 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:25 pm

Fortunately I have a Costco near me that is a top tier station and the cheapest
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tim1999
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by tim1999 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:31 pm

I usually buy from Top-Tier brands for my own cars, and also avoid stations that don't do a lot of business/low turnover of the gas supply, though those usually have high prices anyway.

If you shop around in my area, you can find a Top-Tier station that's within 25 cents per gallon of a no-name one.

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Luckywon
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Luckywon » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:39 pm

Morik wrote:https://www.edmunds.com/car-care/is-che ... r-car.html
http://www.consumerreports.org/car-main ... tra-price/
I use Shell & Mobile, but my car has a turbo engine that tends towards running dirty.

I alternate between the two every 5k miles so their particular detergents can work out whatever they can. I switch around because I recall reading some article a while back that said the detergent itself can build up, but if you switch to a different detergent it can help clean out the buildup of the old one. But if you switch every fill-up, for instance, you'll just end up with a buildup of a mix of the two detergents... not sure how scientific that is (I'm more than a little skeptical), but I have plenty of both types of stations around me, so no harm to me.

If I wasn't trying to keep my car running well for a long time, or if I had a non-turbo dirty-burning engine, I'd probably just fill up just wherever.
Thanks for the references. Two interesting articles from reliable sources but unfortunately seem to be saying the opposite thing. One would think something like this would be a scientifically settled subject, but apparently not!

Morik
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Morik » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:42 pm

Luckywon wrote:
Morik wrote:https://www.edmunds.com/car-care/is-che ... r-car.html
http://www.consumerreports.org/car-main ... tra-price/
I use Shell & Mobile, but my car has a turbo engine that tends towards running dirty.

I alternate between the two every 5k miles so their particular detergents can work out whatever they can. I switch around because I recall reading some article a while back that said the detergent itself can build up, but if you switch to a different detergent it can help clean out the buildup of the old one. But if you switch every fill-up, for instance, you'll just end up with a buildup of a mix of the two detergents... not sure how scientific that is (I'm more than a little skeptical), but I have plenty of both types of stations around me, so no harm to me.

If I wasn't trying to keep my car running well for a long time, or if I had a non-turbo dirty-burning engine, I'd probably just fill up just wherever.
Thanks for the references. Two interesting articles from reliable sources but unfortunately seem to be saying the opposite thing. One would think something like this would be a scientifically settled subject, but apparently not!
Yes, funny that. I think to really understand we'd have to dig more into the methodology. At a glance, the Edmunds article contains more hearsay, and just references some tests another group did. We don't get much info on what their methodology was.

I trust the consumer report article more, personally, but would love to hear other opinions.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:48 pm

I try to buy the cheapest but I don't get to crazy about it unless there is a huge gulf in prices. Costco is usually the cheapest but it's about $0.10/gallon cheaper than the other low costs stations. There's usually a huge line at Costco so I tend to avoid it unless I just happen to get lucky when I drive by.

I will say I was just in Hawaii and Costco in that situation was by far the cheapest. When we returned our rental car we filled up there for $2.70/gallon whereas every other gas station we saw was $3.30-$3.50/gallon for regular.

rooms222
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by rooms222 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:55 pm

I found this AAA report that essentially recommends Top Tier fuel very informative. It also taught me a lot about gasoline sales in the US.

https://www.aaa.com/AAA/common/AAR/file ... Report.pdf

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by 123 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:00 pm

Gas stations on the main thoroughfares seem to get the most business regardless of price. Maybe locals know about and use the less expensive local stations but many drivers only see the stations on the road they're driving on.
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poker27
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by poker27 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:02 pm

When I was growing up my granddad told me She'll was the best, so I perfer shell ;). This was obviously before the Internet. I think just about all gas is the same, I will typically so She'll or Costco.

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Luckywon
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Luckywon » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:27 pm

rooms222 wrote:I found this AAA report that essentially recommends Top Tier fuel very informative. It also taught me a lot about gasoline sales in the US.

https://www.aaa.com/AAA/common/AAR/file ... Report.pdf
This article explains everything about gas and then some! I'm a believer now in buying gas from a "Top Tier" brand. It seems there can be issues with fuel economy and engine performance otherwise. Most brands that that I have seen in my area are "Top Tier" but unfortunately United Oil, which is where I have always filled up, is not :oops:

The good news from the article is that switching brands can potentially reverse some of the problems a non Top Tier brand may have caused.

Thanks very much for this reference!

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TD2626
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by TD2626 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:58 pm

I buy semi-randomly from whatever gas station happens to be easiest to drive to. I have little brand loyalty when it comes to gas. For most frugal Boglehead (used, non sports/luxury) cars it probably shouldn't matter which regular unleaded gas gets bought. Cheap is good but I have a hypothesis that there is an efficient market for gas in my area so prices reflect true value... and it often doesn't make sense to burn gas and drive many miles to save a few cents a gallon.

The active buyers of gas play an important role in that they keep the market efficient. Passive buyers like myself are hitching a free ride on their efforts. I am thankful for those who go out of their way to buy the cheapest gas because it keeps prices competitive everywhere.

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tuningfork
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by tuningfork » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:32 pm

I used to buy gas from whichever station was convenient and cheap. Sometimes top tier, sometimes not. I also tracked gas mileage, recording details at every fillup. I was having intermittent problems with one car (I don't recall the specific problem - hesitation perhaps?) that I correlated to certain brands of gasoline. I decided to use only Shell and Texaco for a while. The problems I was having with that car went away. I've stuck with top tier brands ever since, usually Shell since I get a 10 cents discount with my grocery card.

moneywise3
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by moneywise3 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:53 pm

All gas basically is the same except for the additives. Unbranded ones keep their costs low with low overhead and no advertising. How much additives help is still under research. Fuel injectors need to be replaced every so often anyway for one reason or the other. I wouldn't sweat the gas brand except for the octane rating. Surprisingly the biggest factor used by stations to set the price is how much the neighbor is selling for.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Nicolas » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:17 pm

I always buy the cheapest I can find where I am, using Gasbuddy. No preference except for price and it is uniformly true that Costco is the cheapest everywhere. I will avoid bad neighborhoods, however.

The Wizard
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by The Wizard » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:57 am

Can someone explain what Top Tier really means?
Is there something scientific about it? Or is it more of a marketing slogan?
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Fletch
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Fletch » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:09 am

I have an engineer friend who worked for Shell oil. He said that Shell and Exxon were always in competition as to who could have the best performing gasoline (clean valves, etc.). Also, all top tier gas is not the same according to him. The last I remember Shell had 5X the minimum required by government standards for detergents etc. additives. Personally, I typically buy either Shell V-Power or Exxon Synergy for my turbocharged engines and use only full synthetic oil (Mobil 1 or Castrol Edge Professional). I have never replaced a fuel injector in my vehicles with three of them having over 100,000 miles and one having over 200,000 miles. YMMV :wink:
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by takeshi » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:24 am

Luckywon wrote:I've always wondered why people choose to fill up at a particular gas station when prices more than $1/gallon cheaper are to be found 3 blocks away.
Luckywon wrote:Would appreciate any insights as to whether other factors besides price should be considered.
A lot of info has been provided above but for just about any topic out there you should probably consider much more than just price.

In my specific case, our vehicles are both high compression and require high octane fuel but even if I could use regular I would be concerned about items mentioned above. If there was a top tier station that offered a drastically lower price within 3 blocks I'd certainly use it. However, prices nearby don't really vary much and it's not worth it to me to drive across the city to save a few bucks.
Luckywon wrote:I have filled up for 20 years at a United Oil gas station which is the lowest in my area by quite a bit and never noted any problem.
Does your definition of "problem" only mean a significant/catastrophic failure or do you closely monitor fuel economy and/or other aspects of your vehicles' performance?
The Wizard wrote:Can someone explain what Top Tier really means?
Is there something scientific about it? Or is it more of a marketing slogan?
Did you read the linked AAA document above?

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Swansea » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:41 am

Shell V power is recommended by a highly regarded BMW tech expert. Of course, if you do not need 93 octane, you can select a lower octane Shell gas.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:46 am

Is there anything written about direct injection (as opposed to the AAA article which only looked at port injection)? I ask because newer vehicles are using direct injection and there are already commercially available systems using walnut shell blasting to clean intake valves for direct injection engines. I've seen the intake valves on a Subaru WRX with 10k miles and they looked worse than any 100k mile port injected engine I've ever seen. My understanding is that some manufacturers use a combination with some fuel going into the intake to clean the valves but I don't know who does this. As time goes by and more vehicles use direct injection (DIT), this will become a big problem, and gas won't matter because it's simply not hitting the back of the intake valves at all. My plan is to stay completely away from DIT equipped cars for the forseeable future. This might make me more Boglehead as it's going to be harder to find non DIT cars new and I'll have to hit the used market.
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Rupert » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:58 am

My next-door neighbor works for our regional fuel distributor, and she has explained the local distribution network to me. I live on the Gulf of Mexico, and nearly all gas sold in my region begins its life as a Shell product. Doesn't matter if you buy it at a BP, Shell, or Chevron station -- it's all Shell in the beginning. The gas is delivered to the distributor from a refinery on tanker ships and then stored near the port in giant tanks. When a local gas station places an order for gas, proprietary detergents, etc., are added as the gas is put into the tanker truck that will deliver it to the station. So if the station is a BP station, then BP's proprietary additives are mixed in before the gas is delivered to the station. The discount, i.e., non-top-tier, stations buy what's left in the tank after all the brand-name stations have placed their orders. So the gas those stations purchase has been sitting and evaporating in the distributor's tanks longer than the gas you buy at top-tier stations. That's why it's cheaper. Again, this information comes from my neighbor who is the person who sells the gas to the various stations.
Last edited by Rupert on Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by TheGreyingDuke » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:58 am

My dilemma is how to blend Top Tier with non-ethanol fuel, which I believe each impart advantages. Most (all?) of the non-ethanol stations are not branded, not Top Tier. The TopTier stations all have ethanol.

I drive a VW 2.0 TSI engined car, it requires 91 Octane and I have had the habit of mixing it up, trying for alternate fillups with one or the other. I do get significantly better mileage on the non-ethanol brew, FWIW.

Non-ethanol stations are listed here https://pure-gas.org
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by jharkin » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:00 am

Fletch wrote:I have an engineer friend who worked for Shell oil. He said that Shell and Exxon were always in competition as to who could have the best performing gasoline (clean valves, etc.). Also, all top tier gas is not the same according to him. The last I remember Shell had 5X the minimum required by government standards for detergents etc. additives. Personally, I typically buy either Shell V-Power or Exxon Synergy for my turbocharged engines and use only full synthetic oil (Mobil 1 or Castrol Edge Professional). I have never replaced a fuel injector in my vehicles with three of them having over 100,000 miles and one having over 200,000 miles. YMMV :wink:
I had not previously read the full AAA research report linked above but I'm familiar with Top Tier and try to buy TT brands whenever I can. TT is specifically recommended in the owners manuals for the last few cars I have purchased (All Honda and Toyota). In the old days before I knew about TT I used to stick with Mobil and Shell, now I look for anything on the TT list.

Not surprised that Shell is often at the top of the list, they are also one of the biggest suppliers of aviation fuels and lubricants, along with race fuels.

I have also, never, ever, once had to replace an injector in 25 years of driving, and we have never ever disposed of a car under 100k. I dont think its so much the fuel as certain brands are more prone to injector problems than others.. *cough* German Engineering :( *cough*

As far as direct injection.... The day is rapidly approaching where we wont be able to buy a car without it. I finally gave in.


+1 on the synthetic oil also. Used to be a big fan of Mobil1, but I have now switched to Pennzoil Ultra Platinum based on the findings published in BITOG.

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lthenderson
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by lthenderson » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:08 am

I can't say that I've ever seen a $1/gallon price difference in the space of three blocks. Generally where I live the price difference is less than $0.10/gallon and on a 12 to 15 gallon fillup, isn't worth the hassle for such small savings. I go to the gas station that is on my way, on the side of the street in the direction I am heading and where I can get in and out of easily.

Living in the heartland where ethanol blends constitutes two thirds of all the available options, I am more concerned with finding a gas station that has non-ethanol blended gas. Once I eliminated ethanol blends from my vehicles, all the multitude of omission code problems and failing sensors that I always seemed to be dealing with went away.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Wakefield1 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:22 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:Is there anything written about direct injection (as opposed to the AAA article which only looked at port injection)? I ask because newer vehicles are using direct injection and there are already commercially available systems using walnut shell blasting to clean intake valves for direct injection engines. I've seen the intake valves on a Subaru WRX with 10k miles and they looked worse than any 100k mile port injected engine I've ever seen. My understanding is that some manufacturers use a combination with some fuel going into the intake to clean the valves but I don't know who does this. As time goes by and more vehicles use direct injection (DIT), this will become a big problem, and gas won't matter because it's simply not hitting the back of the intake valves at all. My plan is to stay completely away from DIT equipped cars for the forseeable future. This might make me more Boglehead as it's going to be harder to find non DIT cars new and I'll have to hit the used market.
I believe (although it would be expensive) that a car engine could be designed with both direct injection equipment and port injection equipment such that the car would run most of the time as direct injection but periodically would switch to port injection operation such that the intake valves would get "washed" by the (hopefully) top tier fuel. So as to avoid crudded up valves. [Perhaps just a cheaper "throttle body injection" unit could suffice for this?] Remember "Izzacarb" on Click and Clack? (Throttle body injection is really just a pressure fed form of carburetion?)
I understand that if direct injection (and probably at higher pressure than non-direct injection) occurs after the intake valve(s) close,more of the available volume of the intake stroke can be applied to getting air into the cylinder,then the fuel goes in without competing for that volume,allowing more air to be taken in and therefore,more potential power from a given (small) engine displacement. Hence the push for direct injection.
(Diesel injection is so very high pressure that the fuel can even be forced in against combustion and compression pressure)

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by stoptothink » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:34 am

lthenderson wrote:I can't say that I've ever seen a $1/gallon price difference in the space of three blocks. Generally where I live the price difference is less than $0.10/gallon and on a 12 to 15 gallon fillup, isn't worth the hassle for such small savings. I go to the gas station that is on my way, on the side of the street in the direction I am heading and where I can get in and out of easily.
Around here it is the same. Generally, the difference is no more than $.05/gallon for neighboring stations, although I do live on the border of two cities and there is a noticeable difference in price between gas in the neighboring cities (gas in my city is generally a good $.15 cheaper). That being said, during my last trip to California, I noticed gas stations directly across from each other and there was a ~$.80 difference in the cost of regular. I am definitely driving across the street to save 20%.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by protagonist » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:36 am

I usually buy gas at Cumberland Farms for two reasons:
1. Convenience- 3 blocks from my house
2. Price- 10 cents off per gallon with their loyalty card, which works out cheaper than any other nearby stations, though not significantly enough to go out of my way.

When away from home I usually go for convenience . 10 or even 20 cents more per gallon on an occasional fill-up is not going to significantly impact my retirement or the well-being of my heirs, but it might affect my immediate well-being on an icy or rainy day.

My cars last a long time. I have never noticed any issues related to the fact that I buy cheap gas.
Last edited by protagonist on Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

Wakefield1
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Wakefield1 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:40 am

I certainly would buy ethanol free gas for my mowers and saw if it was available near where I live. Even at some extra cost.

DaftInvestor
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:45 am

Where do you live that you see a price variance of $1? The most I ever see is about 10 cents in my area - but its usually more like a few cents difference (hardly worth even thinking about - not worth crossing traffic or driving an extra few blocks for).

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:49 am

I have never seen that sort of disparity in close stations. Usually the only time there's any significant difference is when prices are changing and some stations haven't caught up. I mean locally $1 would be 45% of the current prices. I won't drive out of my way to get gas, but there are a few different stations on my work route.

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Luckywon
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Luckywon » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:34 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:Where do you live that you see a price variance of $1? The most I ever see is about 10 cents in my area - but its usually more like a few cents difference (hardly worth even thinking about - not worth crossing traffic or driving an extra few blocks for).
Los Angeles. At this moment, according to Waze App:
76 Gas station at 9930 National Blvd is $3.98/$4.19 for regular/premium
United Oil at 9815 National Blvd is $2.86/3.06 for regular/premium

The two stations are 0.2 miles, or three blocks, apart.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:10 am

Luckywon wrote:
DaftInvestor wrote:Where do you live that you see a price variance of $1? The most I ever see is about 10 cents in my area - but its usually more like a few cents difference (hardly worth even thinking about - not worth crossing traffic or driving an extra few blocks for).
Los Angeles. At this moment, according to Waze App:
76 Gas station at 9930 National Blvd is $3.98/$4.19 for regular/premium
United Oil at 9815 National Blvd is $2.86/3.06 for regular/premium

The two stations are 0.2 miles, or three blocks, apart.
I was going to guess California :)

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Gadget » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:27 am

I'm sure top tier matters, but in my area I think ethanol free gas matters more. My old car gets 4 miles to the gallon better with ethanol free gas. Our new car doesn't get better gas mileage with ethanol free gas, but I suspect ethanol free gas has the same improved long term maintenance that top tier gas does. Maybe there are studies for that, but I am too lazy at the moment to find one...

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by jedblanks » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:35 am

Rupert wrote:My next-door neighbor works for our regional fuel distributor, and she has explained the local distribution network to me. I live on the Gulf of Mexico, and nearly all gas sold in my region begins its life as a Shell product. Doesn't matter if you buy it at a BP, Shell, or Chevron station -- it's all Shell in the beginning. The gas is delivered to the distributor from a refinery on tanker ships and then stored near the port in giant tanks. When a local gas station places an order for gas, proprietary detergents, etc., are added as the gas is put into the tanker truck that will deliver it to the station. So if the station is a BP station, then BP's proprietary additives are mixed in before the gas is delivered to the station. The discount, i.e., non-top-tier, stations buy what's left in the tank after all the brand-name stations have placed their orders. So the gas those stations purchase has been sitting and evaporating in the distributor's tanks longer than the gas you buy at top-tier stations. That's why it's cheaper. Again, this information comes from my neighbor who is the person who sells the gas to the various stations.
I also live along the coast, and near MANY refineries.

The above quoted text doesn't explain why I see the same fuel truck at shell, mini mart, and discounts r us on the same day.
The discount guy sells far more, so maybe he gets some deliveries of other product, but at least some of his deliveries are the same batch as shell. So this tells me that top tier is just a guarantee, and you may still get the same product at the discount place.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by alshayed » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:16 am

jedblanks wrote:The above quoted text doesn't explain why I see the same fuel truck at shell, mini mart, and discounts r us on the same day.
Most gas stations contract a third party trucking company to deliver fuel to them. So for example "Bob's Fuel Trucking" might deliver to some Shell stores, some Mini Mart, etc. Generally speaking they do not split a trailer between different customers however, they take a full tanker to one customer (maybe multiple locations for the same customer) then go back to the loading rack and load fuel for a different customer. Fuel additives are generally added by the equipment at the loading rack while being pumped into the trailer, but sometimes the driver has to manually add it to the tank at the gas station during delivery.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by jedblanks » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:41 am

alshayed wrote:
jedblanks wrote:The above quoted text doesn't explain why I see the same fuel truck at shell, mini mart, and discounts r us on the same day.
Most gas stations contract a third party trucking company to deliver fuel to them. So for example "Bob's Fuel Trucking" might deliver to some Shell stores, some Mini Mart, etc. Generally speaking they do not split a trailer between different customers however, they take a full tanker to one customer (maybe multiple locations for the same customer) then go back to the loading rack and load fuel for a different customer. Fuel additives are generally added by the equipment at the loading rack while being pumped into the trailer, but sometimes the driver has to manually add it to the tank at the gas station during delivery.
If seen them manually add the additives. Its like a quart sized bottle for thousands of gallons. Looks to be for show.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by alshayed » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:04 am

jedblanks wrote:Looks to be for show.
You could probably endlessly debate the effectiveness of different additive blends and concentrations, and from your comment I surmise you are a skeptic. Keep in mind that there is a minimum amount of additive mandated by law. However at the end of the day from the trucking companies perspective they are contracted by the customer to put it in. If they don't the customer can make the trucking company pay for the fuel, pump it out, and dispose of it themselves. That's a pretty expensive proposition so the trucking companies take it seriously.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by an_asker » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:08 am

DaftInvestor wrote:
Luckywon wrote:
DaftInvestor wrote:Where do you live that you see a price variance of $1? The most I ever see is about 10 cents in my area - but its usually more like a few cents difference (hardly worth even thinking about - not worth crossing traffic or driving an extra few blocks for).
Los Angeles. At this moment, according to Waze App:
76 Gas station at 9930 National Blvd is $3.98/$4.19 for regular/premium
United Oil at 9815 National Blvd is $2.86/3.06 for regular/premium

The two stations are 0.2 miles, or three blocks, apart.
I was going to guess California :)
You know what's weird? In Central Florida, I've seen what I really think is price gouging but I am sure it is not technically that! I've noticed at least three-four times within the last year when prices across the area went up to a specific number in what appeared to be a concerted effort to raise prices when there was no real need to.

Consider the latest time this happened just a week or so ago. Driving around one day, I noticed that gas was slightly less expensive and promptly filled up. If I recall correctly, I filled up at 2.14/gal when prices were about 2.19 or so near where we live. Next day, the prices were 2.35/gal uniformly across the area. I looked at gasbuddy.com and it was literally 2.35 at almost every gas station it listed (there was one with 2.34 and one with 2.29), except at Costco which still had it at 2.14. What was really weird is that I have USO and VDE in my watch list, and both of them have been falling throghout that time frame. Fast forward to yesterday, and the prices have now fallen off a bit AND there is some variance from, say, 2.29 to 2.35. Costco still has it at 2.14!

I even had opened a thread a few months back on this topic. I guess either this never happens elsewhere or no one really bothers about it.

Jags4186
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:16 am

Fletch wrote:I have an engineer friend who worked for Shell oil. He said that Shell and Exxon were always in competition as to who could have the best performing gasoline (clean valves, etc.). Also, all top tier gas is not the same according to him. The last I remember Shell had 5X the minimum required by government standards for detergents etc. additives. Personally, I typically buy either Shell V-Power or Exxon Synergy for my turbocharged engines and use only full synthetic oil (Mobil 1 or Castrol Edge Professional). I have never replaced a fuel injector in my vehicles with three of them having over 100,000 miles and one having over 200,000 miles. YMMV :wink:
Well my quick google result says a fuel injector costs about $342 to replace. If Shell V-Power costs on average $0.20/gallon more than say Costco or random discount gas station, and you average 30 MPG you've spent an additional $2,000 on fuel over the life of those vehicles. That's almost 6 fuel injector replacements!

I've never replaced a fuel injector in any vehicle I've ever had. But I also have never kept a vehicle past 120,000 miles.

spectec
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by spectec » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:28 am

I'm sure there is some difference between brands, but it seems to me that most of the marketing for gas resembles the marketing for financial advisors. I typically drive my cars 150K - 200K miles, and I fill up wherever it is convenient. Have never had an issue. (But none of my cars are high-performance.) I do change oil more frequently than most people I know, which I still believe is more important than fuel brand.
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sport
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by sport » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:44 am

an_asker wrote:Consider the latest time this happened just a week or so ago. Driving around one day, I noticed that gas was slightly less expensive and promptly filled up. If I recall correctly, I filled up at 2.14/gal when prices were about 2.19 or so near where we live. Next day, the prices were 2.35/gal uniformly across the area. I looked at gasbuddy.com and it was literally 2.35 at almost every gas station it listed (there was one with 2.34 and one with 2.29), except at Costco which still had it at 2.14. What was really weird is that I have USO and VDE in my watch list, and both of them have been falling throghout that time frame. Fast forward to yesterday, and the prices have now fallen off a bit AND there is some variance from, say, 2.29 to 2.35. Costco still has it at 2.14!

I even had opened a thread a few months back on this topic. I guess either this never happens elsewhere or no one really bothers about it.
This happens here too. I read a newspaper article about it. There is a petroleum dealers association and they send out a notice to all their members when the wholesale price increases. So, all the stations raise to the same price almost immediately. It would seem to be price fixing. However, government enforcement people seem to look the other way.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:28 pm

Luckywon wrote:Los Angeles. At this moment, according to Waze App:
76 Gas station at 9930 National Blvd is $3.98/$4.19 for regular/premium
United Oil at 9815 National Blvd is $2.86/3.06 for regular/premium

The two stations are 0.2 miles, or three blocks, apart.
Have you actually confirmed the prices, rather than using an app? I would be suspicious of stale data from one of them. I used to run into that with Gas Buddy and the like, were there would seem to be a large difference, but one of the stations hadn't been updated for 20 hours.

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Luckywon
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Luckywon » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:25 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Luckywon wrote:Los Angeles. At this moment, according to Waze App:
76 Gas station at 9930 National Blvd is $3.98/$4.19 for regular/premium
United Oil at 9815 National Blvd is $2.86/3.06 for regular/premium

The two stations are 0.2 miles, or three blocks, apart.
Have you actually confirmed the prices, rather than using an app? I would be suspicious of stale data from one of them. I used to run into that with Gas Buddy and the like, were there would seem to be a large difference, but one of the stations hadn't been updated for 20 hours.
It was not the Waze data that led me to the conclusion that there can be a large price differential between nearby gas stations. My observation was already based on my real life experience driving by these stations almost on a daily basis. I only quoted the waze data because I thought it would be considered more independent and contemporaneous information to those who do not see this in their own area.

But anyway, this morning :
Premium at the 76 was $4.19.
Premium at the United oil was $2.96

One could enter those stations with addresses into a google search and see the prices. Perhaps they might not be up to the second, but they would not be far off and over time would tell the picture.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by ArmchairArchitect » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:53 pm

As others have already mentioned, ONLY buy from Top Tier brands if you care about your car. It's usually the same price fuel you just have to know which brands to go to. List of brands that meet Top Tier specs:

http://www.toptiergas.com/licensedbrands/

You can buy regular 87 octane gas from a company that meets Top Tier Specs, and the gas will be 19x cleaner than from a non-Top Tier brand, meaning your engine and fuel components will last longer.

an_asker
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by an_asker » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:26 am

an_asker wrote:
Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:08 am
DaftInvestor wrote:
Luckywon wrote:
DaftInvestor wrote:Where do you live that you see a price variance of $1? The most I ever see is about 10 cents in my area - but its usually more like a few cents difference (hardly worth even thinking about - not worth crossing traffic or driving an extra few blocks for).
Los Angeles. At this moment, according to Waze App:
76 Gas station at 9930 National Blvd is $3.98/$4.19 for regular/premium
United Oil at 9815 National Blvd is $2.86/3.06 for regular/premium

The two stations are 0.2 miles, or three blocks, apart.
I was going to guess California :)
You know what's weird? In Central Florida, I've seen what I really think is price gouging but I am sure it is not technically that! I've noticed at least three-four times within the last year when prices across the area went up to a specific number in what appeared to be a concerted effort to raise prices when there was no real need to.

Consider the latest time this happened just a week or so ago. Driving around one day, I noticed that gas was slightly less expensive and promptly filled up. If I recall correctly, I filled up at 2.14/gal when prices were about 2.19 or so near where we live. Next day, the prices were 2.35/gal uniformly across the area. I looked at gasbuddy.com and it was literally 2.35 at almost every gas station it listed (there was one with 2.34 and one with 2.29), except at Costco which still had it at 2.14. What was really weird is that I have USO and VDE in my watch list, and both of them have been falling throghout that time frame. Fast forward to yesterday, and the prices have now fallen off a bit AND there is some variance from, say, 2.29 to 2.35. Costco still has it at 2.14!

I even had opened a thread a few months back on this topic. I guess either this never happens elsewhere or no one really bothers about it.
This just happened overnight. Yesterday, gas prices were $1.94 to $1.99 around the area I drive through. This morning, I see a uniform price of $2.19

Has anything happened that you are aware of that caused gas prices to spike 10%? This is definitely price gouging, though I don't know who we could complain to...

PS: this is for the lowest grade gas (87-rating)

falconsfan
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by falconsfan » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:57 am

Not gouging at all. Prices went up due to the rise in oil. Expect prices to rise further as we near spring and peak driving season. Happens every year.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:03 am

an_asker wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:26 am

This just happened overnight. Yesterday, gas prices were $1.94 to $1.99 around the area I drive through. This morning, I see a uniform price of $2.19

Has anything happened that you are aware of that caused gas prices to spike 10%? This is definitely price gouging, though I don't know who we could complain to...

PS: this is for the lowest grade gas (87-rating)
I suggest you take a look at GasBuddy.com, which you can setup alerts for price increases that they expect to come. Explanations are usually provided.

Here's their blog post yesterday: https://business.gasbuddy.com/gas-price ... -3-months/

"After declining for 13 straight weeks, the national average price of gasoline has posted a weekly increase of 0.5 cents to $2.24 per gallon. The rise comes on the heel of oil prices retaking the $50 per barrel level on OPEC and Canadian oil production cuts to start the new year.

“With oil prices back over $50 per barrel, it looks like gas prices in more areas may soon bottom out and start to tick higher. While it doesn’t seem that prices will rise very far, it looks more and more like the lowest price of the year may now be behind us,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The national average briefly hit $2.22 per gallon last week, but will likely move up slightly or stabilize this week. Gas prices in the Great Lakes saw a noticeable jump last week and tend to see among the earliest trend changes in the country, which may be a harbinger of what’s to come for the rest of us.”
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Texanbybirth
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Texanbybirth » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:14 am

Paid $0.67/gallon on Sunday: thank you Kroger Fuel Points. $14 to fill up a minivan and a sedan. :beer

On topic: we've never used premium or even mid-grade in our cars, and they last us over a decade. I did fill up my mother-in-law's 4-series beamer with premium for her when she let us take it out on a date night. Only confirmed my suspicion that nicer cars really are more expensive all around. (But it sure was fun to drive. :twisted: )
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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:19 am

falconsfan wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:57 am
Not gouging at all. Prices went up due to the rise in oil. Expect prices to rise further as we near spring and peak driving season. Happens every year.
The multiplicity of gasoline formulations attached to summer driving rules apparently also has something to do with it - the USA is anything but one gasoline market.

In addition, I remember reading, there seems to be plenty of circumstantial evidence re gasoline price manipulation by California refineries - something about one of the major ones being taken down for maintenance just before the summer driving season.

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Re: Gas station prices and quality

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:49 am

I typically buy at Costco. Even if there is a "better" gas is the difference really substantial? I doubt it for a normal car.

In Chicago there are big differences in price. I bought gas last week for $2.01 and saw it a couple miles away for $3.29. It is location based more than brand based I would say. Owners also set their own prices. Some right off the highway figure they will get enough business even with sky high prices. Some make more money on concessions (cigarettes, lottery, etc.) than gas I've heard.

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