GasBuddy & Gas Prices

Just a little note about gasoline prices and a site called GasBuddy.

I use it mostly when driving in unfamiliar places, but sometimes around home. Today it saved me about 50 ¢ / gallon on about 20 gallons of gasoline and Diesel. Yeah, $10 in one go.

Here’s a current screen capture of their top level map from:

You can click to embiggen the graphs /maps.

GasBuddy National Map 27 Mar 2021

GasBuddy National Map 27 Mar 2021

Can you guess what States screw you over the most on Gasoline?… That bright yellow for California & Hawaii is “optimistic” at the top end as $3.50 and above. I drove by a BUNCH of $4+ stations and got Premium at $3.59 (regular was $3.29 IIRC).

As you zoom in, it goes from colored areas to a regular Street Map with price tags. Clicking on a tag gives you the station name.

You can zoom in even closer than this, but this gives a nice idea of the cost of Premium around the South Bay area of San Francisco / Silicon Valley. (It lets you chose regular, mid-grade, premium, or diesel to display)

South San Francisco Bay Area Premium Gasoline Prices

South San Francisco Bay Area Premium Gasoline Prices

I’m really happy with them and their service ;-) On long trips I typically manage to knock off between 10 ¢ and 30 ¢ / gallon by timing purchases along the way. Usually around here, COSTCO is the cheapest so I just got there a lot, but there are times when other places beat them (usually after a rapid price rise when the little out of the way station has not jacked the price up so fast). Today was one of those days ;-)

Just a happy user of their site and I have no connection with them in any way other than as “site user”.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to GasBuddy & Gas Prices

  1. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    We use Gas Buddy.

    Also, we notice that Shell and Chevron, maybe other names, are always higher. I think organizations with fleets put cards for these in the car pool vehicles. Someone may be getting a kickback.

    Years ago a mini-mart was purchased by a family of Sikhs. Gas price was always low. Then it became consistently high.
    I’ve wondered if they started using a new algorithm for maximizing profits. Perhaps they sent a kid to college. Or, maybe they sold and moved on, and the new owner has a different view of things.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Add another $7 saved – just filled up the last car ;-) Now I’m set for about 4 months of driving before I need to buy gas again ;-)

    (Spousal car is about once a month though as she goes more places than I do) But at least for me I’ve locked in my gas expenses for the next quarter at about $1/2 / gallon lower than the majors around me. (Saw a 76 station on my way to fill up that was at $4.79 / gallon for premium. Nobody in line there…)

    @N&J H.:

    Yeah, a local ARCO run by a Sikh has decent prices. I believe part of their religion is to be kind and fair to others…

    Many of the “Majors” are trying to buy out their franchisees (or were not that long ago). The Home Corp Run stations tend to higher prices than the Mom & Pops and “minors”. Though there are exceptions. IIRC In Texas Houston area Exxon / Mobile was not the overpriced thing it is here and many times was as low a price as the off brands. Also a Standard Station outside of San Antonio was fairly priced.

    I’ve found that Safeway, Smith’s Groceries, Walmart, Costco, and B.J.s (like a Florida Costco) tend to have nice low prices. All of them require some kind of card to get the best prices. For Walmart, it is NOT their house brand debit card, but their pre-paid “gift” card. Go figure. For the Walmart Sam’s Club it is the Sam’s Club card.

    ARCO can be low priced or not, depends on the store. Shell, 76, Chevron, Exxon (outside of Texas) tend to be pricier, but with occasional exceptions. Dubious claims that their gasoline made to the same Government Mandates is “better”…

    Through the Desert Southwest “Maverick” stations are pretty good on price. Conoco / Circle K sometimes a good deal.

    Most any local regional tends to be price competitive. Big enough to get decent wholesale costs, but small enough to be willing to keep things lean on the price and with no national ad budget to support nor Men In Suits On Bonuses or Retainers… Here, that’s Rotten Robbie. Good gas too.

    I really like the way Gas Buddy finds the odd one off station for me though. That’s really nice. BUT it doesn’t flag special requirements like member cards, no attendant card only, cash price different from cards, closed at night, etc. Those you get to discover…

    Like I mapped all the good COSTCO prices cross country and then found that I could not get gas there at night. OK, on to the next place…. So about 1/3 of my drive time COSTCO is not an option. Similarly Walmart is often closed at night and I don’t know if their pumps will work without an attendant around, card only. Someday I’ll have to check it and see ;-)

    Oh, and it has been especially helpful with Diesel. The Truck Stops used to be just golden as low priced Diesel. Then they went to a Corporate Discount loyalty card thing and jacked up the pump price to give a deeper “discount”… Yes, fleets put a card in the trucks, cars, etc. and they are big corp programs… So now to get decent prices on Diesel you must find the little independent off the beaten path a little ways. Like the fill up I just did today ;-)

  3. One thing I would be cautious of is the cheaper gas in the modern cars. My oldest son was a master auto mechanic and talking of gas one day he warned me to only by Top Tier gas for my vehicle. He said the cheaper gasoline if used consistently would eventually cause injector problems and could also cause valve deposits.

  4. Randall Shearer says:

    I used to work for a major oil company years ago (rhymes with hell) doing fuel testing and at that time there was a clear difference in gasoline quality between that from the majors and that from mom and pops. It was mainly due to superior additive packages (detergents, etc) that reduced engine deposits.

    Now, additive package technologies are very much generic, i.e., blenders can purchase third-party packages that are pretty good. The quality and consistency of fuels in general are better because regulations are not requiring drastic changes in fuel properties like they did 3 decades ago.

    That said, the majors will protect their brands and compensate consumers fairly if their fuel causes some vehicle damage. Years ago, the majors were more likely to give away octane, i.e., sometimes for example the regular would actually contain some mid or premium grade but not the other way around.

    I use Costco a lot, which does rebate 2% of purchases.

  5. Scissor says:

    Sorry, Scissor.

  6. YMMV says:

    How does Gas Buddy get the price data? Originally I think they got it from consumers sending in reports. Now they hint that some stations send in their prices. Is there anything more to it?

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    I believe anyone can submit a price report. So if you have a gas station with low prices you would want to advertize that yourself. For reluctant stations, the guy buying the gas can do it.

    That’s how it was some year or three back. I’ve not looked for changes to that.

  8. philjourdan says:

    I am very familiar with Gas Buddy – but have not had much use of it in the past year (the year of Covid). Locally, I buy my gas at Costco – right now, it is running about 23 cents cheaper than the cheap stations! They got as low as $1.25 here back at the beginning of Covid. No one else came close. So I do not use it locally, only when traveling (when I am at my destination, I just search for a Costco).

  9. philjourdan says:

    Yeah, a local ARCO run by a Sikh has decent prices. I believe part of their religion is to be kind and fair to others…

    Not sure about that as I have not studied their religion. But it is a religion of peace. And based on Hinduism. Went to college with 2 Sikhs, Sucdave and Sira. They roomed together on the “nerd” floor at the college. But they did party hard! Good men. I have not heard from or about them in 47 years.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    The bits I think are relevant to the way they run a business:

    of 10
    Treat Everyone Equally

    Sikhism believes that it is immoral to show distinction or rank because of race, class, or gender. Universality and equality are among the most important pillars of the Sikh faith.

    of 10
    Live by the Three Primary Principles

    Three main principles guide Sikhs:

    Be always absorbed in meditation and prayer.
    Make an honest income by honorable methods.
    Share earnings and selflessly serve others.

    of 10
    Avoid the Five Sins of Ego

    Sikhs believe that egotism is the biggest hindrance to connecting with the timeless truth of God. Sikhs practice daily prayer and meditation to reduce the effects of ego and prevent indulgence in the manifestations of ego:



    of 10
    Keep the Code of Honor

    Sikhs carefully live according to specific individual and communal standards, both ethical and spiritual. They are encouraged to forsake worldly worries, to abide by the guru’s teachings and practice daily worship.

    There’s more but those are the ones that touch on business an fair dealing, IMHO.

  11. philjourdan says:

    @Richard Brimage – Re: cheaper gas and engine damage

    I fill up almost exclusely at Costco. My truck has 215k miles on it. I have had to replace the alternator twice. Just replaced the fuel pump (check engine light came one, but it was still running fine).

    215k/20mph x $.20/ppg difference = $2,150. I think I paid for that fuel pump 3 times over.

  12. Ed Forbes says:

    I NEVER buy name brand gas.

    My last 4 Ford Explorers were sold at apx 350k miles each, running in good condition, and none had any major engine work.

    I have a COSTCO card, but almost never use it for gas. Their are several minor brand stations around me that are within pennies of COSTCO and it is not worth my time to wait in line to maybe save $0.50 on a fill up. Then again, I don’t have the pleasure of living in the Bay Area. California Central Valley gas prices are MUCH lower than there.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ed Forbes:

    Yeah, I “do the math” on Costco and fillups. It’s about 1 gallon round trip, so $3.50 or so for break-even, call it 35 ¢ / gallon on a minor fill and about 10 ¢ / gallon if dead empty.

    Typically I just take “whatever car” is most empty on the every week or three grocery shopping trip so figure the delta gas cost is zero as I’d be buying groceries anyway.

    We’re right in between a Rotten Robbie and an Arco that are usually within about 5 ¢ to 10 ¢ of them,so if a car isn’t going for groceries it will go there (or for a couple of gallon top up for some unexpected reason).

    Per Name Gas:

    ARCO is BP British Petroleum so “name” and COSTCO is a Top Tier brand per the pump. Rotten Robbie is one I’ve used for about 40 years+ (maybe 50+…) as my most used (prior to COSTCO starting about 15 years back). Exactly ZERO issues.

    Honda Civic: Bought new. About 250,000 miles when I sold it 14 years later (and it went to 340,000 last I heard of it). Still working fine. No, as in none, ever, valve, carb or cat converter issues. Always run on the cheapest gas I could find, lots of it Rotten Robbie (that is actually pretty good gas).

    Honda Civic Wagon. Bought new. About 200,000 IIRC when we sold it. Maybe more. We went through 2 automatic transmissions but zero engine problems. Same gasoline profile.

    Mercedes SLC – maybe 100,000 (total of about 305,000 on the engine). Lots of R.R. & Arco, occasional other brands.

    Mercedes 190e been coast to coast maybe 4 times in it (relatively recent to me, 270,000 or so miles on the car). Usually run premium, but lots of no-name and truck stop lowest price fills. No engine issues.

    Ford ’86 F350 4×4 Pickup Truck. Not that many miles put on it (about 8 MPG…) but I’d guess about 40,000. Call it somewhere around 5000 gallons… Zero engine problems (but lots of suspension issues with rough ride).

    Mercedes 300 T – Banana Boat. Somewhere around 300,000 on the car. Drove it for about 15?+ years coast to coast maybe 5? times. Finally died from wobbly shaft on the distributor (coupled with the transmission 1st gear shaft starting to wobble, the paint shot, rusting hood and one fender from, 2 years in Chicago, AC dead, and the interior starting to go after a mere 40 years of life… But no carb, cat, valve, or other fuel system engine issues. Always run on the cheapest rot gut gas I could find. Mostly, but not always super. Remember seeing the prior owner filling up at ARCO once…

    Mercedes 300 TE – just past smog at 278,000 miles. Fuel injected. About 15 years now? Over 120,000 miles we put on it. Has always had a slightly rough idle and doesn’t like ARCO but runs great on COSTCO or Rotten Robbie. The “mix” can not be adjusted and it was designed prior to the 10% ethanol mandate so I think it just runs too lean. Near 0% unburned HC on the smog test and some O2 left… But illegal to adjust it to be right. Probably another 20,000 before I get tired of it…

    That’s leaving out the Diesels. I think maybe another 200-300 k miles on 3 Diesels. Always bought #2 at cheapest price available. No fuel issues at all. Still have one of the three (others eventually died at about 400k to 450k miles on them for various things. One spun a bearing… ) and it has only 170,000 on it so is likely to outlive me…

    (Remember that I did a lot of driving for a living… contracts all over California, and even into Canada and Florida…)

    I’m also leaving out the cars from, about 1969 to 1980. VW Fastback, Chevy Impala, Ford Fairlane… and even a 1956 Olds Holiday ;-) All run on similar gas and no valve or carb issues other than the VW sucking #3 exhaust valve at full throttle at close to red line in August … which is what they tend to do if you did that… Rebuilt the engine and ran it for another roughly decade include a perimeter of the lower 48… All on cheapest available gas. Eventually lost 2nd gear and the interior was shot… somewhere around 17 years old and about 180,000 miles (and 2 rebuilds – which is about right for them. One every 70,000 if you are lucky. NO oil filter after all… unless you added one. Usually just rings & bearings on a weekend.)

    I’m pretty sure cheap gas is not much of a problem…

    I did get gas with water in it once at a 76 station in the ’70s (when “gasohol” was new and the tendency to absorb water not well controlled) and I’ve pretty much proven that Chevron / Standard “regular” is not as high an octane as Rotten Robbie (mixed with Diesel it works better, where higher octane works worse…). I did also once get gas that pinged rather a lot in the early 80’s at a no-name station where I think they stuck Regular in the Super pump… so there’s that.

  14. Ed Forbes says:

    Best story I heard on gas quality was talking to a local gas station owner. It seems the bulk carrier didn’t fully flush the tanker from its previous load of peanut oil. Tow trucks only had to tow in a couple of cars as it was caught fairly quickly after a customers car stalled out after idling on-site for a few minutes while talking to the owner.

    I always wondered about this kind of error going the other way. Yummmm…..nothing quite like the taste of gasoline with your morning eggs.

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