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I'm planning a road trip through SW USA. One of the decision factors on which car to rent is the estimated fuel cost. I don't mind paying some extra $ for a more luxury ride, but it has to stay within limits.

I checked to have an idea on current fuel prices, but I was wondering if I have to add another e.g. 10% tax (like you do with hotels) or if this is the real price I'll pay at the pump?

If I make a rough calculation (avg 3.5$/gallon, 23 mpg (*) for standard SUV, 3000 miles) I'm at 'only' 450$ for fuel.

(*): real data from, seems more likely than the numbers car dealers give.

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As they say your mileage may vary. :) – Karlson Jan 4 '13 at 14:31
btw. are turbodiesels an option in US? – vartec Jan 7 '13 at 15:20
up vote 10 down vote accepted

All taxes (federal, state, local) are already included.

Be careful though, it might get more expensive depending on where you go. One year ago, gas was ~$3,5/gallon around Las Vegas but in Northern California it was more $4. The lowest and highest I've seen were $3,3 and $4,2. So you should still have some margin in your estimate.

But like everywhere, simple rules will get you cheaper prices: it will be more expensive near airports, probably near big cities, on busy highways. Famous brands are also more expensive.

EDIT: including @LessPop_MoreFizz comment since it is important too. Paying in cash will save you some money (usually 10c per gallon). Pretty often a credit card fee will be charged, sometimes also for debit card payments.

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An additional note: Prices may also vary based on method of payment: It's common to charge more to customers paying via Credit or Debit card vs. paying in Cash. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 5 '13 at 0:30
There's one big exception to this answer - and that's when buying fuel from the rental companies themselves. They often have a "fuel option" that allows you to pay for a full tank of gas, and then return the car empty. They will quote the price as $X/gallon which will include the normal fuel taxes, but will frequently not include additional "rental car" taxes of up to 10% or more. – Doc Jan 7 '13 at 13:23
You should try to avoid returning a rental car without a full tank; I've heard of them charging up to $7/gallon, which they justify as a service fee. – Monica Cellio Jan 28 '13 at 21:00

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