Good ways to save money on gas

January 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A recent report from AAA found all gasoline is pretty much created equal -- regardless of which brand. Here is a look at what this means for your bottom line.

It can mean savings every time you fill up. But as we found out, price isn't always the overriding factor when we determine where we want to get our gas.

Most gas we purchase in California comes from one of 13 oil refineries around the state. According to AAA, when it comes to gasoline, all of it is pretty much the same.

"When we're looking at the different brands of gasoline, it's really, there's no distinction," Matt Skryja from the California State Automobile Association said.

But oil companies add fuel additives which they say, give their brand the edge over others.

"It's those additives above and beyond the basic package and detergent that seem to make a difference for lots of consumers," Joe Sparano from the Western States Petroleum Association said.

But a study by the state of Maryland's Motor Fuel Testing Laboratory found the difference is insignificant.

AAA recommends when filling up, purchase the octane level suggested in your owner's manual. After that, the choice is yours.

"I think it's a matter of consumer preference. Me personally, I'm going to go with the one that most fits my budget," Skryja said.

But the drivers we talked to at a Shell station in San Mateo County say they rarely consider price when making their purchases.

Even if the gas station across the street is 18 cents cheaper.

"I didn't even see it. I don't even look at the prices sometimes. I just kind of gas up," Gary Tensfeldt from San Mateo said.

"I choose it for the convenience," Robert Byerwalter said.

"It runs better on my car, in my Tahoe, out of any other gas," Nicole Dimas from San Mateo said.

Kit Yarrow is a marketing professor at Golden Gate University. She says location and brand loyalty are the two biggest reasons motorists make their fuel decisions.

"Products that you habitually purchase, you spend less time evaluating the price value equation than products that you purchase only once," she said.

So the bottom line, you can save money buying gas. But it seems many of us are not price conscious when it comes to our gas purchases.