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MUCH Higher Prices for Fuel at Big Truck Stops! WTH?


wa_desert_rat

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I posted this thought in another thread but thought it deserves a thread of its own.

 

During our shakedown cruise last month January, 2015) I noticed that the big truck stops - FlyingJ/Pilot, Loves, and others - were pricing their products (diesel and gasoline) much higher than competing fuel stops. I'm talking 40-cents a gallon higher. This far surpasses any savings an RVer would get from using loyalty discount cards

 

Just this morning, looking through GasBuddy, I could see discrepancies in pricing that would easily pay for lunch (or more, depending upon what your fuel tank can hold).

 

Loves in Ritzville, WA (right next to I-90) is $2.93 for diesel

76 Station in George, WA (right next to I-90) is $2.39 for diesel

 

They are about 70 miles apart. Same state. Same taxation. That amounts to $0.54 per gallon and over a 100 gallon fillup it's $54.00!!!

 

I'll pass Ritzville by and go to the one at George (or stop at George first and then continue east) every day.

 

OR:

 

Pilot in Sacramento, CA diesel is $3.19

Chevron in Woodland, CA has diesel for $2.79

 

I filled up at the Chevron. Drove right past the Pilot. They're less than 40 miles apart!

 

The big truck stops are certainly easier... but if I had someone willing to hand me two $20 bills to drive down the road and fill up - even if I had to unhook the toad (which I never had to do) - I'd jump all over that.

 

So what's going on? Are they just taking advantage of us?

 

WDR

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They could care less about "us". Their market is over the road trucks and they need fuel no matter the price, so the market, while still somewhat competitive, is thus an inelastic market. If they lower the price they do not sell appreciably more, if they raise it they do not sell appreciably less.

 

The OTR trucks need the big lanes and the high volume pumps - when I fill up I take 225 - 250 gallons. I am not happy about it, but I will pay more to be able to fill both tanks simultaneously with high volume pumps. Plus I prefer getting fresh diesel from a high volume location since it will sit in my tanks for a while.

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They could care less about "us". Their market is over the road trucks and they need fuel no matter the price, so the market, while still somewhat competitive, is thus an inelastic market. If they lower the price they do not sell appreciably more, if they raise it they do not sell appreciably less.

 

The OTR trucks need the big lanes and the high volume pumps - when I fill up I take 225 - 250 gallons. I am not happy about it, but I will pay more to be able to fill both tanks simultaneously with high volume pumps. Plus I prefer getting fresh diesel from a high volume location since it will sit in my tanks for a while.

Actually, the lower price station in George, WA has dual high volume pumps. And if you don't think they push out a lot of diesel at that price.... well....

 

WDR

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They are not taking advantage of you. If you buy at the cheaper stations.

And you can get in & out of them with no problem.

And then hope those stations have a big turn over and no bad fuel.

 

I don't travel in CA or WA

I just cheked Gas Buddy and at my 1st stop(GA) going N. Flying J Diesel is $2.79 all the other 14 stations in that area range from $2.58 to $3.29

My 2nd stop(GA) Flying J is $2.59 the other 16 stations in the area $2.56 to $3.19

My 3rd stop(KY) Pilot is $2.95 the other 7 in the area $2.69 to $2.94

 

So no real big saveing at the other brand when I use my Flying J/Pilot discount card. Fuel up park & go inside for a meal that most of the other places don't have.

 

Plus after swiping the Flying J card I use either my Visa 3% or Discover 5% discount for fuel.

So stop 1 cost me $2.63 or less

Stop 2 $2.44 or less

Stop 3 $2.78 or less

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We have found the same as Biker. And we use Gas Buddy all of the time. When in the Seattle area always try to fill up at Union 76 station at Smokey Point north of Seattle - cheapest around and just follow the trucks in. Whatever works for you. Remember, when looking at truck stops along interstates, it will be dependent upon how much traffic and nearby competition there is. If you are out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing else around, then the cost is going to be higher because of less traffic. And if you have to drive extra miles, at 8 mpg for us, that may erase any savings. If cost is within 10-15¢ then we are going with the truck stop - fresh fuel, straight in, etc. If more, then we will look at where it is and how easy to get in and out. Ease of getting in and out are important to us.

 

Barb

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I totally agree with the OP's premise. Truck stop diesel is typically higher, often much higher than buying diesel at normal gas stations.

 

This odd state of affairs with truck stop diesel having higher prices has not always been the case. In fact, the situation very much was the reverse for many years past. I ball-park the change when Pilot bought out Flying J.

Flying J used to have the lowest diesel prices in the area. Sadly, this is no longer the case. And it seems pretty much all truck stops have followed in this direction.

 

I often find the cheapest diesel at grocery stores and those kinda fills need to be unhitched and bobtail. If we are traveling I will not unhitch JUST to fill, but I will always seek out a truck stop alternative prior to hitching up and leaving an area to hit the road. When traveling, egress is just as important as price. With a 108 gallon capacity, I am fortunate to pick and choose where and when I take on diesel.

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If cost is within 10-15¢ then we are going with the truck stop - fresh fuel, straight in, etc. If more, then we will look at where it is and how easy to get in and out. Ease of getting in and out are important to us.

 

 

What do you do if the "extra miles" are on your route anyway and the cost per gallon is 40-cents?

 

I'm wondering why so many brand name truck stops are running higher prices.

 

Another example:

 

Loves at Ellensburg, WA: Diesel $2.89 per gallon

 

Shell in Kititas, WA: Diesel $2.39 per gallon.

 

Kittitas is the NEXT exit east of Ellensburg (not counting the route to Yakima).

 

The stations with cheaper fuel are not small stations located well off the freeway or major roads. They are right along the Interstate. They're not official "truck stops" but they are not difficult to get into and out of and many of them have dual high-volume pumps.

 

Barb's Smokey Point 76 is at $2.45.

 

Pilot at Ferndale, WA (right next to a major refinery): $2.79.

 

Right now, at least on the west coast, make sure you know what you're paying (unless you simply don't care). But up and down I-5 (at least to Sacramento) and east/west on I-90 (at least to Spokane) the big name-brand truck stops are likely to be MUCH higher in price than equal access (but not name brand truck stops) fuel stops.

 

WDR

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Remember, when looking at truck stops along interstates, it will be dependent upon how much traffic and nearby competition there is. If you are out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing else around, then the cost is going to be higher because of less traffic.

I don't think that's true; at least not any longer and certainly not for the west coast. It certainly doesn't explain why truck stops along the same route only 30 to 80 miles apart can have $0.50 price differentials for the same product.

 

It might reflect "conventional wisdom" but that is often as much a product of marketing tactics as anything else.

 

WDR

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Perhaps some stations locked in the price they paid for fuel some time ago and oil prices declined faster than they could keep up with. Greg

That's certainly possible. Exxon, Shell, Chevron and Arco all have refining capabilities that Flying J/Pilot do not have. So if they bought fuel on futures contracts months ago that could explain it.

 

Doesn't explain why Valero can match the low prices though.

 

WDR

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Some time back when oil approached the $150 a barrel the big gas stations forward purchased their fuel. Gambling that the price they paid would be less than the future price. Flying J got caught and that bought about their downfall.

It's quite possible that the big gas stations are still selling fuel that they purchased when fuel was $100 a barrel. So what do they do? Compete and sell at a loss or tough it out until they have new fuel at current prices? The up side is that WHEN, not if, oil price head north those big stations currently selling high may well be selling low. Then will there be any complaints?

 

regards

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Depends where you are! Filled Motorhome with diesel on a return trip leg this last Sunday in Eloy, AZ at Flying J. Price was as cheap as Tucson and Gas Buddy will support this statement. All the other Eloy Truckstops were the same.

 

rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

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Maybe FJ/Pilot buys futures in different parts of the country and got caught. That would actually account for the 40 to 50-cent differences (which would be way too high to be a result of simple transportation costs).

 

There could also be a bit of marketing. I wonder how many trucking firms have accounts at FJ/P and their drivers are told to go there regardless.

 

And Barb's assertion of "we don't count" would add in there somewhere... cuz RVers have to be a pretty minor percentage of the equation.

 

So if some FJ/Pilot suit bought futures at the wrong time in about October of 2014 he's (or she) might be filling out applications about now.

 

WDR

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So if some FJ/Pilot suit bought futures at the wrong time in about October of 2014 he's (or she) might be filling out applications about now.

 

That's what happened to Flying J in 2009 after the recession crash - Flying J had bought to many expensive futures and ended up having to sell out to Pilot to avoid bankruptcy.

 

Barb

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When I had the truck and fifth wheel I worried about ease of access....especially when I was double towing. Now even with a 40 ft motorhome I find no problem in filling at a Valero , Quick Time or Circle K .....and you cant tell me that they have stale fuel. I have saved significant $$ by avoiding the truck stops.

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Been making the trip from the bay area to tahoe via I80 every weekend to go skiing. I've managed to fill up the truck with under $2.50/ gal diesel (cash), mostly in fairfield/Vacaville or the foothills. I use Gasbuddy to scout ahead knowing how far I have left in the tank. If I'm towing the trailer, I also use satellite view in Google maps to check out the size of the gas station and the best in and out points.

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Slightly off the primary “subject” matter….. But, take a look at what the “other half” pays for fuel in their pursuit of enjoyment?

 

Super Bowl trip from the East coast to Phoenix and return via a Hawker 850XP

 

$4.02 per mile just for fuel!

Jet A fuel…. $6.64 gal. Teterboro, NJ $5.59 gal. Phoenix, AZ

R/T distance 3,702 Nautical miles

Average block speed 406 kts per hr.

265 gallon per hour consumption

Total fuel consumed 2,438 gallons @ $6.11 per gal. avg.

 

Total fuel cost for R/T $14,896.00

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Slightly off the primary “subject” matter….. But, take a look at what the “other half” pays for fuel in their pursuit of enjoyment?

 

Super Bowl trip from the East coast to Phoenix and return via a Hawker 850XP

 

$4.02 per mile just for fuel!

Total fuel cost for R/T $14,896.00

I guess we should be grateful that we don't have to fuel up at a Jet-A fuel stop!!! (I'm guessing they don't use "JetBuddy".)

 

Even so, that's 1.7 (statute) miles per gallon which might compare favorably with some of the larger (and heavier) motor homes. :)

 

WDR

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