I'm wondering how petrol price works in USA in general, specifically in California.

  • Do prices remain the same regardless of where the Petrol Station is located?
  • Are prices fixed for every fuel brand?

In most of Europe countries the price may vary a lot from city centre to suburbs to highway, one exception I know is Slovenija where the price is almost the same everywhere.

  • 4
    You can explore the prices yourself. gasbuddy.com has prices nationwide. Feb 7, 2014 at 19:14
  • 1
    In Luxembourg (admittedly a tiny country), the prices in different places are usually similar if not identical, in my experience.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 7, 2014 at 19:24
  • In San Francisco you can see two stations directly across from each other on Divisadero that routinely have a 5 cents per gallon difference in price. At the cheaper one you may have to wait in line to fuel up, depending on time of day. Feb 8, 2014 at 0:41
  • 3
    No, the prices are not the same, but once you realize how little it is per liter, you probably will no longer care. :) Feb 8, 2014 at 1:31
  • 1
    For example in Washington state, a station is selling $2.75 and right diagonally across is a station selling at $3.25 a gallon. Read as evidence: edmunds.com/car-care/is-cheap-gas-bad-for-your-car.html. And then when I cross into Indian land, there may not be taxes at all on gasoline. Nov 21, 2014 at 20:45

4 Answers 4


The answer is most definitely NO. The fuel prices could be different from station to station some time from block to block and gas stations across the street from each other may have different prices for the same grade of fuel. Reasons for this may vary from local rents and taxes to the ownership of a particular gas station.

Case in point close to me there were 2 Exxon stations, with a distance of about a 1/4mile(400 meters) with a difference in price of 2-5 cents on every fuel grade sold.

The biggest example that I could give is gas stations near Holland Tunnel in Jersey City. Shell Station on the inbound side offers regular grade at $3.34 a gallon and on the outbound side at $3.27/gallon (Prices are current and are subject to change).

And just for fun check the prices reported 2 days ago for 2 Union/76 stations in Beverly Hills, CA for me numbers 2 and 4. 2 cents difference in price vs. about 3-4 blocks difference in location.

  • The Holland Tunnel thing is easily explained, too: gas prices in New York are massively higher than New Jersey, both because of taxes and because of much higher rent. People going inbound are entering New York, and that $3.34 is the cheapest they’re likely to see for a while. Those on the outbound side are entering New Jersey, and will probably see even-cheaper gas the further they get from a major tunnel.
    – KRyan
    Feb 9, 2014 at 16:48
  • @KRyan even-cheaper gas the further they get from a major tunnel This is partially true. When you drive away from the Holland Tunnel the only time you see cheaper price is between NJ3 and NJ139 on Tonnele ave. If you move away from there the prices will start to vary depending where you are in NJ. But I was only used to show that even close geographic proximity doesn't force prices to be the same.
    – Karlson
    Feb 9, 2014 at 18:44

No and no. Each location sets its own price for different prices of gasoline (and diesel and kerosene, where they are available). This is true both of independent stations and those branded with a national chain (e.g. Exxon, Shell, Chevron, 7-11, Sunoco, and so on).

Most gas stations in the U.S. are independent franchise operations— most people, including most Americans, are unaware of this. Some stations may thus be owned by the same company, but the owner is probably not the corporation which lends its name, which makes the business risky when the corporation does something bad.


As others have stated, the easy answer is absolutely not. A very handy resource that is user-maintained/updated (similar to wikipedia) is the GasBuddy app:




There is no fix price for gasoline at pump stations in United States. You can sell it for anything you want. It is not regulated.

There was a famous case when two gas stations across the street started to compete for lowest price. They both made their price so low that they were loosing money.

  • 1
    Links would be helpful.
    – Karlson
    Feb 7, 2014 at 17:29
  • 3
    I can think of no "famous" cases— conventional wisdom says that this situation is almost the norm. Markups are kept extremely low on gasoline to draw in customers, and the station makes its profit on food and convenience items or repairs and service or both.
    – choster
    Feb 7, 2014 at 19:41
  • The best I was able to find on such extreme competition is the thought experiment for Sacramento from 2003. cockeyed.com/citizen/gasoline_prices/competition/…
    – Karlson
    Feb 7, 2014 at 20:51

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