Playing gasoline roulette

Three of the five vehicles in our family need premium gasoline to run.

The three — my two Harley Davidson motorcycles and Amy’s Mini Cooper — also give the best gas mileage.  Even in its best tune, our 15-year-old Jeep Liberty, has problems reaching 20 miles per gallon on the open road.  Amy’s Mini can top 40 mpg is she keeps her foot off the gas enough to keep the turbos from kicking in.

If we shop around for the best gas prices, the high mileage pays for itself even with the higher prices for premium.

Unfortunately, seeking the best gas price for premium gas means we don’t buy much of that gas in Floyd County.  With prices ticking back up from the refinery damage from latest hurricanes, we seek the best costs we can find.

I paid less per gallon to fill my Harley with premium gas in Roanoke Monday than it costs to buy even unleaded non-ethanol gas locally.  A gallon of premium locally starts at about $3.19 cents a gallon and goes up, even at “independent” stations.

Premium gas at a BP gas station in Roanoke cost me $2.91.9 cents a gallon.

Yet regular gas costs the same ($2.49.9 cents a gallon) in Floyd and at most other stations in either the New River or Roanoke Valleys.

There are cheaper exceptions.  A gallon of regular gas on Monday cost $2.19 a gallon at the Exxon station on Booker T. Washington Highway at Westlake near the Franklin County side of Smith Mountain Lake.  Same for the Kroger gas pumps at Westlake and that price drops to $2.16 a gallon if you have a Kroger discount card.  Premium costs $2.92 with the discount card.

Premium gas costs 60-80 cents a gallon more than regular in Floyd County while the cost ranges from 10 to 40 cents a gallon over the cheaper stuff in many other locations.

A Sunoco station on Radford highway leading out of Christiansburg normally offers prices cheaper than other stations but often runs out of gas because of volume.  A BP station just up the road from a Kroger station in Christiansburg often matches or sometimes undercuts what the prices of the discount grocery change.

Buying locally is important to us but at a point in our lives where finances matter, we more often than we would have to seek bargains at locations outside the county and more often at the gas pumps.

We also wonder why local stations can match the prices that others around the area charge for regular gas but don’t do so for mid-range octanes or premium.  The only “chain gas station” in Floyd — the Exxon owned by Clark Gas & Oil in Stuart — charges $2.49.9 a gallon for regular gas and $3.19.9 a gallon for premium.  The prices often change.

Yet I see Exxon stations in Christiansburg and Roanoke that charge the same for regular gas and price premium from $2.99.9 or $3.09.  Even the independent stations charge more for the higher octanes while matching the price for regular.

 

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