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Why am I paying different prices at gas stations? Experts explain

Warmer temperatures means more people will be traveling, and as a result more gas will be used. But, why exactly do we pay more for gas at some pumps than others?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — When you are trying to compare which gas station has a better cost, have you ever wondered why the price is difference at some locations?

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average gas price in Arkansas is $3.88.

If you live in, or travel to Pulaski County, you might have noticed that some pumps have $3.89 a gallon at one station, while it's $3.79 a gallon at another.

That got us thinking, why do prices vary at stations in different areas?

AAA Spokesperson Nick Chabarria said there are many factors that play a role when looking at gas stations within the same town. 

"The difference in those prices are really going to come from the distribution and marketing costs that those gas stations incur," Chabarria said.

So for example, some gas stations are part of larger companies that have bigger storage facilities nearby.

Quicker access for them, means cheaper distribution costs, which could save consumers a few extra cents at the pump.

Chabarria said that's different for smaller fueling stations though.

"Other gas stations may be independently owned and are going to have to pay a distributor to deliver fuel," Chabarria said.

While some of the lowest prices are central Arkansas, places in southern Arkansas, like Texarkana, are seeing numbers close to the national average.

"You're not always going to find cheaper gas in rural areas," Chabarria said. "Costs are gonna vary based on how far stations are from fuel terminals. You know, how much it costs to transport that fuel to the gas station."

You've also probably noticed another uptick in prices too.

Chabarria said the current crisis in Ukraine and crude oil costs are key factors.

"The spike in prices is a response to the announcement from the European Union that they're going to look for ways to begin to ban Russian crude oil imports."

A big thing to remember as prices have increased, there really hasn't been a decline in people traveling.

Now that we are entering summer travel season, Chabarria said expect the cost to continue to fluctuate.

While the cost is steadily increasing, drivers are Arkansas are paying the third lowest gas price average in the country.

In the meantime, there are some tips AAA recommends you do to try and save money on fuel:

  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. Higher speeds result in more aerodynamic drag.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
  • Use cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because a loss of vehicle control could result.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning.
  • Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in colder temperatures. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
  • Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy.
  • Make sure your tires are properly maintained and inflated to the correct level.
  • When driving in town, adjust your speed to “time” the traffic lights. This reduces repeated braking and acceleration that consume additional fuel.
  • When approaching a red light or stop sign, take your foot off the gas early and allow your car to coast down to a slower speed until it is time to brake.

For those interested, you can find the average price of fuel in your county here.

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