Does it Make Sense to Drive Farther to get a Lower Price on Gas?

Posted by Mrs Money on June 19th, 2008

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200299877-001.jpgIt’s another post related to the price of gas. Today I debated on whether or not I would drive to the gas station that had gas for $3.99 a gallon. While this is still outrageous, it’s the lowest that I have found recently. The only problem? It’s a 12 mile round trip to get the gas from my work. I have been him-hawing around on whether it was worth it to go out and get it when, lo and behold, a light bulb went off! and I decided to calculate it. I am a numbers kind of girl, anyway.

I estimated my gas mileage to be around 23 miles to the gallon, which seems pretty good for my 1994 Oldsmobile Achieva. I found out that it supposedly gets around 18 mpg city, 26 hwy, and 21 combined. I wasn’t that far off. Here are my calculations:

At 21 miles per gallon, it costs me roughly half a gallon of gas to drive the 12 miles there and back to get the gas, so $2. My fuel tank capacity is 15.2 gallons. If I get gas for $3.99 versus the $4.09 closer to home, I am saving at the most $1.52. This is also assuming that I can get 15.2 gallons, which is impossible. $1.52 (what I’m saving) – $2 (the cost to get me there and back)= -$.48! It’s actually costing me money to drive there! I’m glad I didn’t bother to make the trip!

This was all pretty surprising to me. At ten cents off a gallon, I thought it would be worth it. The numbers prove otherwise! I’m glad I calculated that first! I guess the lesson learned here is this: just because it sounds like you may be saving money, it’s better off to calculate it to make sure. I am thankful I am still receiving my 4% back on my gasoline purchases!

What’s the cheapest you’ve seen gas in your area lately?

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5 Responses to “Does it Make Sense to Drive Farther to get a Lower Price on Gas?”


  1. Catherine says:

    Gas prices by me are $3.95 – $3.99. No one wants to be the first to break the $4 mark. My boyfriend is predicting that if it continues to go up (which is likely), it’s just going to jump from $3.99 to $4.19 or something like that.

    Oh, I’m in South Central Pennsylvania. And I’m glad that my gas tank holds about 22 gallons. That trip would have been worth it for me!

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  2. I am in Maryland. The least expensive i’ve seen it lately is $3.89. The Shell up the street from me has 5 cents off Tuesdays. That helps a bit.

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  3. tiffanie says:

    I’m from the Flint, Michigan area and the lowest gas prices as of today are $4.04 (gasbuddy.com). Horrible for being the lowest! Most places are around $4.14 though

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  4. Mrs Money says:

    Catherine- you have a large tank! I am jealous! I wish it would have been worth it for me. I’ve seen $4.19 a gallon and I think they are afraid to hit $4.20! I am afraid that we are never going to see gas lower than this. :(

    Erica- WOW! I’d love $3.89 right now! That is awesome your local Shell offers 5 cents off Tuesdays. I’d make Tuesdays my gas day (as I’m sure you do! :))

    Tiffanie- I’m planning a trip to Michigan next month. I hope gas is cheaper then, but I’m not holding my breath. It sounds like Michigan has some expensive gas!

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