Gasoline prices edge down in time for holiday travel

November 23, 2012 5:08am
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•  They’ve dropped by more than a nickel in past week

•  “Motorists should look for prices that are near or below $3.60 a gallon”

As some 4.7 million Californians clog the state’s highways for lengthy holiday trips this Thanksgiving weekend, they’re paying less every day to fill up the car, according to price surveys Friday.

Still, they’re spending slightly more than this time last year to fill up their tanks as they head out of town for Thanksgiving weekend, but far less than the grim days of early October when prices spiked to new records, seemingly hourly.

“Motorists should look for prices that are near or below $3.60 a gallon for regular unleaded to ensure they are getting the lowest price,” says Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The state average is $3.758 a gallon for regular on Friday, Nov. 23. That’s 5.3 cents less than one week ago and 85.2 cents less than the all-time high of $4.671 paid on Oct. 9. But it’s still nine-tenths of a cent higher than drivers were paying a year ago.

California’s average price of $3.758 on Nov. 23 is fifth highest in the nation. Leading the states is Hawaii at $4.074, the only state with an average still above the $4 mark. It’s followed by Alaska at $3.926 and then New York’s $3.914 and the $3.822 being paid in Connecticut.

The national average price has actually increased by a tenth of a cent since last week, putting it at $3.431 on Black Friday. That’s 19.4 cents less than a month ago but still ten cents more than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association’s figures.

Following are the Central Valley average prices for Friday, Nov. 23, driving from south to north, as reported by the American Automobile Association, with last week’s (Nov. 16) averages in parentheses and [Nov. 9] prices in brackets:

• Bakersfield, $3.841 ($3.890) [$3.987]

• Visalia-Porterville, $3.747 ($3.806) [$3.923]

• Fresno, $3.700 ($3.748) [$3.835]

• Merced, $3.664 ($3.741) [$3.853]

• Modesto, $3.563 ($3.624) [$3.710]

• Stockton-Lodi, $3.560 ($3.627) [$3.721]

• Sacramento, $3.592 ($3.660) [$3.749]

• Yolo, $3.636 ($3.708) [$3.796]

• Yuba City, $3.576 ($3.667) [$3.791]

• Chico, $3.623 ($3.722) [$3.812]

The market average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area on Nov. 23 is $3.812, which is 4.4 cents less than a week ago, the AAA says. In San Diego, the average price on Nov. 23 is $3.786, which is 3.2 cents less than one week ago, according to the AAA’s figures.

The Central Coast college town of San Luis Obispo continues to sport California’s highest average price. On the day after Thanksgiving it is $3.926, down 6.4 cents in a week’s time, the AAA says.

Modesto continues to have California’s lowest average price. On Nov. 23, it is $3.563, down 6.1 cents from a week ago, the Auto Club says.

Now there is only one – one gas station in the state that demands more than $5 for a gallon of fuel. It’s a 76 station in Cupertino that perhaps used a chisel to carve “$5.39” in stone, according to the price comparison website

At the other end of the price spectrum in California, an Arco station in Lodi will take $3.25 (in cash, please) for a gallon it its gas, the lowest price in the state found by GasBuddy’s volunteers on Nov. 23.

What might be the nation’s lowest price on Nov. 23 is spotted by GasBuddy’s volunteers in Spartanburg, S.C., at $2.89 at a Marathon gas station.


GasBuddy bases its figures on reports from volunteer “price spotters” reporting specific locations in the U.S. and Canada. They are not independently confirmed.

The AAA’s prices are market averages for self-serve regular grade (87 octane) gasoline. They are calculated daily from credit card purchases and compiled by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

Not every station is surveyed and not every market is included in either report. Both price surveys note that there can be wide variations within any market.

Gasoline prices throughout California are higher than the national average and usually among the highest in the nation. That is due in part to taxes and a state law mandating a special blend of fuel to reduce polluting emissions.

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