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Survey Says: Pump Prices Vary Widely In California
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Congratulations, Californians: you are probably paying more than you have to during your fill-ups, according to the “Pump Price Spread Report” issued by GasBuddy. Looking at the 2016 average differences between the highest and lowest priced gas stations within GasBuddy-defined metro-areas, 15 of the top 20 cities with the widest price variation are located in The Golden State.

The report found that gas price variation is present in all 456 metro areas in the database, with the median spread at 27.5 cents. Topping the list is Hanford-Corcoran, California with a whopping $1.26 separating the most expensive and least expensive stations. For smart shoppers, that’s a potential savings of about $63 per month. San Bernardino and Bakersfield came in second and third on the list, where consumers can potentially spend an extra $1 per gallon if they’re not careful.

“The spread is more significant in certain areas due to a number of factors like competition and geographic location,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. “Analyzing the data GasBuddy has collected through the years, we noticed some commonalities amongst the cities ranked the highest: they tend to be sprawling with a major connecting highway running through them. Additionally, they have the presence of a large warehouse retailer in the market. The good news for drivers in these areas is that there are opportunities to save money if you know where to look and choose to shop wisely.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fuels average 4 to 5 percent of an overall consumer spending, a large part of the budget. Even cities with smaller spreads between station prices see variances. The average potential for savings in Jackson, Michigan (ranked 400 out of 456 MSAs) is 15 cents per gallon, which can add up to almost $100 per year.