Author Topic: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?  (Read 6213 times)

Dmy0013

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Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« on: June 10, 2015, 10:21:16 AM »
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« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 09:49:10 AM by Dmy0013 »

abiteveryday

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2015, 10:32:12 AM »
There is no difference, they all get the fuel from the same wholesalers anyway.   

nereo

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2015, 10:34:32 AM »
From what I understand, fuel is sold to various filling stations is bought from wholesalers who get the fuel from the same refineries on the open market.  That makes it all but impossible to know whether the fuel going into your car came from Saudi Arabia or Texas, and where it came from will change week-to-week.
The major brands (e.g. BP, Shell, Exxon) will add their own special additives (mostly detergents) to this fuel and all claim that it will 'enhance' engine performance and longevity, but I've yet to see any independent evidence that this is the case compared to the base gasoline.

What you buy at CostCo is in all likelihood the same as what you buy at the name-brand filling station down the street, minus the additives.  Whether this is worth it to you... 

Also, it's worth mentioning that most fuel stations make very, very little on selling gasoline.  They make most of their money selling coffee and energy drinks - the fuel itself has a very low margin.  CostCo makes money on fuel by selling only to its members and getting their members to actually go into the store more frequently.

windypig

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2015, 10:36:37 AM »
I am of the opinion, and that opinion is backed up by minimal online research, that there is no difference.


VanityFIRED

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2015, 11:14:01 AM »
It's not the same.

How could Costco afford to sell the same product for cheaper?  I don't think they sell more gasoline than a gas station that is dedicated solely to selling gas (I don't have the numbers on this).  And same with some of those RaceTrac stores.  Gasoline for the most part is a commodity, however, not perfectly.

Now, I'm not saying that the Exxon gasoline is BETTER, but it's usually not the same.  There can be a wide variety of reasons that  the product is cheaper at Costco.  Maybe a batch of name brand fell short of company quality standards, but was still legal for resale to the public... then it gets dumped on the market to be sold by walmart or Costco. 

Maybe the demand drops very suddenly and the refinery has a lot of perfectly good extra product that it needs to unload before it starts to fill up and max out its storage tanks... then the product gets sold for cheap to Costco.

The second example is the most common scenario.  A refinery sees a demand decrease and starts filling up its empty tanks rather than selling it for a cost discount right away.  The gas might sit there for a day or a couple weeks, but if demand doesn't pick back up, it eventually gets sold at a discount.  So sometimes the gasoline is just old.  It still combusts in the engine, but there is minor degradation in the fuel over time, so it wont be as fresh as if the additives were just put in it.

Personally, I pick a brand and stay with it. Just try not to use too much of it.  That's the real cost saver.  Exxon gas stations can tell you where all there gasoline was ordered from (exxon blending terminals), but a walmart might be getting gas from several sellers and mixing it all together in one big tank.


Bob W

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2015, 11:15:22 AM »
Gas is gas but some stations tanks are old rusty and have  water leaks.   So stay away from the older stations. 

matchewed

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2015, 11:29:37 AM »
It's not the same.

How could Costco afford to sell the same product for cheaper?  I don't think they sell more gasoline than a gas station that is dedicated solely to selling gas (I don't have the numbers on this).  And same with some of those RaceTrac stores.  Gasoline for the most part is a commodity, however, not perfectly.

Now, I'm not saying that the Exxon gasoline is BETTER, but it's usually not the same.  There can be a wide variety of reasons that  the product is cheaper at Costco.  Maybe a batch of name brand fell short of company quality standards, but was still legal for resale to the public... then it gets dumped on the market to be sold by walmart or Costco. 

Maybe the demand drops very suddenly and the refinery has a lot of perfectly good extra product that it needs to unload before it starts to fill up and max out its storage tanks... then the product gets sold for cheap to Costco.

The second example is the most common scenario.  A refinery sees a demand decrease and starts filling up its empty tanks rather than selling it for a cost discount right away.  The gas might sit there for a day or a couple weeks, but if demand doesn't pick back up, it eventually gets sold at a discount.  So sometimes the gasoline is just old.  It still combusts in the engine, but there is minor degradation in the fuel over time, so it wont be as fresh as if the additives were just put in it.

Personally, I pick a brand and stay with it. Just try not to use too much of it.  That's the real cost saver.  Exxon gas stations can tell you where all there gasoline was ordered from (exxon blending terminals), but a walmart might be getting gas from several sellers and mixing it all together in one big tank.

Or you could read and get an informed opinion instead of a speculative one.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2015, 11:32:12 AM »
How could Costco afford to sell the same product for cheaper?

First things first: swipe fees.  The overwhelming majority of gasoline sold is sold via credit card.  Retailers doing small transactions such as gasoline typically get hit with the full 3% or so swipe fee.  On $3/gallon fuel, that's another 9 cents a gallon added to their cost.  Meanwhile Costco does not accept outside credit, only their captive card which they negotiate the swipe fee down to near-zero percent levels.  So just on swipe fee alone, Costco gets to sell their fuel 2-3% cheaper than corner stations.

Furthermore, I'm not convinced they sell their gas at a profit at all.  If you wipe out the thin 1-3% profit that gas stations usually try to make, then that's another 3-9 cents that Costco can use to beat everyone else.  Gasoline and milk are barometer items to consumerists.  You can rip them off on everything else, but if you have cheap milk and cheap gas, you look like a hero.

Costco uses that gas station and its cheap gas to draw people in to it's store.  What happens in the store?  Costco is legendary for sucking people in and getting them to drop $400 in a single shopping trip.  Who cares if you didn't make 10 cents of profit at the gas pump when you make $30 in profit by getting somebody to drop $400 shopping in the main store?  That's how Costco works.  People are penny wise (the pennies per gallon of gas) but pound foolish (spending hundreds in the big box store).

Giro

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2015, 11:42:59 AM »
How could Costco afford to sell the same product for cheaper?

First things first: swipe fees.  The overwhelming majority of gasoline sold is sold via credit card.  Retailers doing small transactions such as gasoline typically get hit with the full 3% or so swipe fee.  On $3/gallon fuel, that's another 9 cents a gallon added to their cost.  Meanwhile Costco does not accept outside credit, only their captive card which they negotiate the swipe fee down to near-zero percent levels.  So just on swipe fee alone, Costco gets to sell their fuel 2-3% cheaper than corner stations.

Furthermore, I'm not convinced they sell their gas at a profit at all.  If you wipe out the thin 1-3% profit that gas stations usually try to make, then that's another 3-9 cents that Costco can use to beat everyone else.  Gasoline and milk are barometer items to consumerists.  You can rip them off on everything else, but if you have cheap milk and cheap gas, you look like a hero.

Costco uses that gas station and its cheap gas to draw people in to it's store.  What happens in the store?  Costco is legendary for sucking people in and getting them to drop $400 in a single shopping trip.  Who cares if you didn't make 10 cents of profit at the gas pump when you make $30 in profit by getting somebody to drop $400 shopping in the main store?  That's how Costco works.  People are penny wise (the pennies per gallon of gas) but pound foolish (spending hundreds in the big box store).

THIS.

I've seen people balk at a $.10 increase in gasoline and watch them walk in to the station and pay $1.50 for a soda.  In a normal tank of gas, a $.10 increase is about $1.50.  And people will drive out of their way to save a few cents a gallon. 

nuts! 

biffwhipster

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2015, 11:44:09 AM »
My uncle, a petrophysicist who worked for ConocoPhillips for 30 years chuckled at me when I asked him this several years ago. He assured me it's all the same, minus whatever "special" additive they claim to put into to their gasoline. He said none of the additives have a measurable effect on your engine. He did say to avoid filling up at the station when you see a tanker there. Sediment from the bottom of the station fuel tanks gets mixed around pretty good when they are filled.

Exflyboy

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2015, 11:45:19 AM »
So much BS talked about when buying "quality gas".

Assuming you live in a State where they put the god awful ethanol in it.. which is the same as effectively watering down the gas, so you get less miles on a tankful.. hen its all the same as far as it makes any difference.

OK so I built an airplane, the engine alone was worth about $25,000... needless to say if I was going to run it on autofuel rather than "proper" leaded aviation fuel, then it had better work.

So I did a heck of a lot of research, mostly around material compatibility with ethanol and how to design the pumping system to avoid vapour lock. etc.. None of which is relevant to you.. But part of that was avoiding crap gas.

Bottom line.. its all crap cus it all has ethanol in it.. But other than that.. its all the same.

Even if you somehow get some (relatively small amounts) of water in your gas.. it will get burned in the engine, and any rust etc will get taken out by the fuel filter.

Buy it from anywhere.. your good to go.


Frankies Girl

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2015, 11:56:58 AM »
My uncle, a petrophysicist who worked for ConocoPhillips for 30 years chuckled at me when I asked him this several years ago. He assured me it's all the same, minus whatever "special" additive they claim to put into to their gasoline. He said none of the additives have a measurable effect on your engine. He did say to avoid filling up at the station when you see a tanker there. Sediment from the bottom of the station fuel tanks gets mixed around pretty good when they are filled.

Same here - relative in the oil and gas industry confirmed, and also had a grandparent that owned an independent gas station that used to buy from this one or that one, and never had any issues over the 30+ years he ran it... it's the same stuff plus or minus some little additives.

It's all bullshit marketing. It may take a while for people to see that, but EVERYTHING is marketing for the most part to make you think this brand or that one is somehow better than the other one with the same ingredients. If you think name brand is always better, then you've drunk the kool-aid (or generic sweetened beverage of your choice).

I've never bought name brand gas except in the rare instances when traveling and they're the only one I can find.

 

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2015, 03:10:51 PM »
Even if you somehow get some (relatively small amounts) of water in your gas.. it will get burned in the engine, and any rust etc will get taken out by the fuel filter.

Actually that's the one good thing about ethanol in gasoline.  Ethanol is aggressively hydrophilic: that is, it will instantly bond with any water it comes in contact with.  You don't have to worry about water in your gas tank if you live in an ethanol area because even E10 has enough ethanol to effectively bond with any water it finds and carry it through the fuel system and right out your tailpipe.  I just wish they would restrict it to a lower concentration, like E5 or something.

MikeBear

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2015, 09:16:20 PM »
The "cheap gas" around here in mid-Michigan is HIGH sulphur mix. It runs fine but when I use it, my car tends to put out that "over-heated catalytic converter" smell (that's what I call it anyway) that's horrible. Not only that, but it easily makes it's way into the cabin of the car, and with COPD, I can't take it for long.

I now get my gas from a station that I KNOW has a better grade of gas, and I no longer get that smell. Unfortunately, that station tends to charge on average, .10 cents more per gallon. But, that's only an extra $1.20 per fill-up, so not too bad.

P.S. I drive a 2010 Mazda 3, and from web searchs, it appears Mazda's are sensitive to high sulphur based gas, and putting out that smell when using them. If you don't have COPD, it may not bother others so much though.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 09:18:08 PM by MikeBear »

Exflyboy

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2015, 09:35:48 PM »
Even if you somehow get some (relatively small amounts) of water in your gas.. it will get burned in the engine, and any rust etc will get taken out by the fuel filter.

Actually that's the one good thing about ethanol in gasoline.  Ethanol is aggressively hydrophilic: that is, it will instantly bond with any water it comes in contact with.  You don't have to worry about water in your gas tank if you live in an ethanol area because even E10 has enough ethanol to effectively bond with any water it finds and carry it through the fuel system and right out your tailpipe.  I just wish they would restrict it to a lower concentration, like E5 or something.

It is (and apart from ripping you off) that ability to absorb water is reduced at altitude.. so all the high performance airplane drivers were told not to fly high (like 18,000ft plus) because all that absorbed water would drop out of solution and your engine would quit.

All complete BS of course and I never had any such trouble in a thousand hours of flying..

Seems generally the incidence of bad gas has gone away... also remember that carburetors don't exist anymore.. the problem with carbs was that any liquid water would not pass through because of the increased surface tension between the water and the jet as there is no pressure to force it through, but with fuel injection its pumped through the injector so your engine doesn't quit.. unless you get a LOT of water of course..:)

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2015, 11:48:03 PM »
The "cheap gas" around here in mid-Michigan is HIGH sulphur mix.

That would be illegal.  Report it to the EPA.  Sulfur levels in gasoline are tightly regulated by the EPA and have been for a long time.  They're currently limited to about 80ppm, which is considered low compared to a genuine high sulfur fuel such as agricultural diesel, which is currently permitted to have 500ppm sulfur, or pre-1993 diesel which allowed 5,000ppm of sulfur.  For comparison, 2010+ ULS Diesel is limited to 15ppm.

Under current law, no gasoline in the United States for road vehicles may have over 80ppm and the average is about 30.  In 2017 the limit drops to 10ppm.  If you think you've got a local station that is getting non-compliant fuel, report it right away so they can send someone out to test it.  Non-compliant road fuels are a very big deal and they take it quite seriously.  As you pointed out, sulfur is like poison to a car, especially to the catalysts, but also to the O2 sensors and other parts.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2015, 05:51:53 AM »
I used to use brand name premium unleaded in my last car. In the current one it gets regular from the cheaper servo.

I tried E10, but I think it impacted upon fuel economy a bit. I've heard that E10 increases fuel consumption by 3%, and E10 is about 4cpl (or 3% or so) cheaper than regular unleaded, so it's basically a wash.

MLKnits

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2015, 05:54:39 AM »
Gas is gas but some stations tanks are old rusty and have  water leaks.   So stay away from the older stations.

How old is old? There are two stations near me that are consistently 2-3 cents cheaper than the chains; neither has shiny, brand-new equipment the way the chains do, but they're not falling-down-ancient like one might see in a rural area.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2015, 11:42:40 AM »
How old is old? There are two stations near me that are consistently 2-3 cents cheaper than the chains; neither has shiny, brand-new equipment the way the chains do, but they're not falling-down-ancient like one might see in a rural area.

A ton of gas stations have been shut down in areas that used to permit MTBE in fuel specifically because they had leaky tanks and contaminated ground water supplies.  That's part of what drove MTBE to become illegal.  Anyway, what I noticed was that a ton of smalltime gas stations (the ones with only 1 double-sided pump) simply stopped serving gasoline rather than dig up their old tanks to put in new corrosion-resistant ones.  I think that largely happened on a state by state basis, but for the most part the issue of rusty and contaminated underground tanks should also be a non-issue thanks to environmental regulations.

Exflyboy

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Re: Cheap Gas is it the same as larger chains?
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2015, 01:05:44 PM »
I used to use brand name premium unleaded in my last car. In the current one it gets regular from the cheaper servo.

I tried E10, but I think it impacted upon fuel economy a bit. I've heard that E10 increases fuel consumption by 3%, and E10 is about 4cpl (or 3% or so) cheaper than regular unleaded, so it's basically a wash.

I measured in my airplane with its extremely accurate fuel flow metering.. for exactly the same speed (184 mph economy cruise..:)..) it used 5.4% more using E10 vs straight gas.

As it takes the same power to make the same speed, assuming same efficiency in burning the two different fuels the 5.4% difference can be expected to translate the same to a car.. except you won't be cruising at 184 mph of course..:)