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What To Watch For When Buying Gas On Your Summer Road Trip


If you’re travelling out of state for a summer road trip, you may encounter choices and prices at the gas station that you don't have in California.

To start, it's actually cheaper to buy gas in Sacramento than it is in Reno or Sparks, where unleaded gas is averaging more than $3 a gallon.

Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with GasBuddy, said refinery problems in California contributed to higher prices. Western Nevada has been slower to recover even though the refinery problems have ended.

"Gasoline prices may be a little bit higher during an event like this because they are at the end of the pipeline that connects to Bay Area refineries," DeHaan said.

DeHaan says some areas of Nevada were spared significant cost increases.

"Depending on where you are in Nevada, if you're in the western side of the state you're being supplied by California,” he said. “Whereas if you're in north-central or even northeastern Nevada, you're likely drawing gasoline that's sourced from Salt Lake City-area refineries which are not effected by those issues."

Drivers need to pay attention to more than just gas prices outside of the state. Most stations outside of California and northern Nevada sell 85 octane instead of 87.

DeHaan said thinner air in higher elevations east of California allows gas with a lower octane to ignite. The lower octane is okay for most vehicles, but should be avoided when towing a boat or trailer

"That 85 octane really can, not going to be fun at all especially for those that get into a mountainous area with a big trailer, a big truck,” he said. “Those are the guys who would want to buy as much octane as they could to avoid engine pinging and all sorts of stuff."

In some parts of the southwest, the lower octane gas is available in the $2.05-$2.40 range. Gas with 88 octane is available in those states for 10 to 40 cents more.

The average price for 87 octane in Sacramento is just under $3 a gallon, with the lowest cost around $2.60. In Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, 85 Octane averages about $2.10 a gallon.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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