If you ever cared about saving money at the gas pump, you may have driven out of your way to save a few cents per gallon. Read this:
As the NACS notes, such a trip is more likely to increase your costs than it is to save you money. A 10-minute detour theoretically results in a 20-minute round trip. At an average speed of 45 mph, the trip would cover 15 miles. If your car gets 30 miles to the gallon, you have to burn half a gallon of gas to reach the station with the cheaper prices. At $4 a gallon, that’s a cost of $2. To make such a trip worth your while (without factoring in the value of your time or the additional wear and tear on your vehicle), you’d need a fuel tank capable of holding 67 gallons. At a savings of three cents a gallon, that 67-gallon tank would cost $2.01 less to fill up at the cheap station versus the more expensive station. This means that after subtracting the cost of the extra fuel it necessitations, your excursion would save you a penny!
One other note for those bemoaning the car/fuel age:
Indeed, while the gas that cost 36 cents per gallon in 1970 would only cost $2 per gallon today, the average fuel economy for cars in that era was approximately 13.5 miles per gallon. In contrast, a 2011 Ford Fiesta gets 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway — so until gas prices top $4 per gallon, Fiesta drivers are actually paying less per mile for gas than the drivers of the 1970s did. And they’re not paying a premium to achieve such efficiencies — the Fiesta starts at $13,320 (that’s just $2312.72 in 1970 dollars).