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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Should you drive across town to buy cheap gas? Use this tool to find out

gas station
(Bridge photo by Paula Gardner)

In just a few weeks, as the Ukraine invasion has roiled global oil markets, motorists everywhere are getting shocked at the pump.

The average price of a gallon is up 88 cents a month and is now at $4.23 in Michigan. A fill-up can cost as much as $15 more than it did on Jan. 1, when it was about $3 a gallon.

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So when a buddy tells you about cheap gas “just down the road,” it might get your attention.

Related: Michigan gas prices may stay high. Where to find lowest prices, save money

Is it worth the drive? Hold on.

Cheap gas may sound like a no-brainer, but what if you have to drive 5 miles to save 10 cents per gallon? Or 10 miles to save 5 cents per gallon?

Fortunately, Bridge Michigan is here to help with a calculator to figure out if you will save — or lose — money chasing cheap gasoline. The tool can help determine the cost savings, but not your time.

Should you drive across town for 'cheap' gas?

With rising gas prices, you may be tempted by lower prices. Use this calculator to determine whether you'll save anything: Remember, it costs money to drive farther. How much is your time worth? Decisions, decisions.

Station No. 1 (cheaper station):

Station No. 2 (closer station):

Total cost, Station No. 1: $ 
Total cost, Station No. 2: $ 
Savings (or 'extra cost' if negative): $ 

In many cases, cheaper gas needs to be fairly close to be worth the drive.

Take what’s going on in Jackson. In nearby Concord a Citgo station was charging $3.99 a gallon on Tuesday.

That’s 15 cents a gallon less than a BP just 13 miles east in Summit Township. If you live near the BP, that’s 26 miles roundtrip to save 15 cents a gallon.

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In the scenario above, you’d pay an extra $1.86 cents — total — if your car got 30 miles to the gallon and you were getting 10 gallons of gas.

Related: Michigan gas prices are soaring. Who’s to blame, when will it stabilize?

If you were getting 20 gallons, you’d still pay more, but not by much. ($83.26 compared to $83).

Still not worth it.

If the Citgo was closer, say 6 miles away (12 miles roundtrip), you could save a lot more.

On 20 gallons, it’d be $1.60, or the price of a king-size candy bar.

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