By Richard Urban / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
Heading into the Father’s Day weekend, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline nationally hit $5 this week, according to the American Automobile Association. In Arizona, the average was $5.38.
But if you look hard enough around Pinal County, where AAA said the average price was $5.53 on June 17, you can still find gas advertised at less than $5. If you cross the county line into three of the four counties surrounding Pinal, the average is also under $5. Gila County averages $4.95, Pima $4.97, and Graham $4.98. Maricopa County averages $5.69.
The least expensive gas that GasBuddy observers reported in Pinal County was at a Conoco station on U.S. 60 in Superior, where regular gas for $4.84 late Thursday. Three Circle K outlets, American Avenue in Oracle, State Route 77 in Mammoth, and U.S. 60 in Superior were at $4.99.
But is it worth traveling to those stations to try to save money? If you live in Casa Grande, for example, it’s about 60 miles to Superior.
If your tank holds 20 gallons, you’ll spend $96.80 at the Conoco in Superior to fill up your empty tank. At the Pinal County average of $5.53, it would cost $110.60 to fill up. That is a savings of $13.80, but you spent two hours traveling 120 miles round trip and burned about four gallons of gas.
To find out if driving somewhere to get lower prices is worth the trip, you can try this calculator.
The lowest prices in Arizona on June 16, Gas Buddy observers found, were in Nogales at $4.45 and Rio Rico, where two stations advertised $4.49 a gallon.
AAA said that demand is dropping slightly, which means the rate of price increases is slowing, but with summer driving season in full swing and crude oil markets remaining volatile, it is difficult to predict whether that will last.
The auto club said that the states with the largest average price increases since late last week were Montana at 18 cents; Nebraska at 15 cents; Missouri, Wyoming, and South Dakota at 13 cents; Arizona at 12 cents; North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Colorado at 11 cents, and Florida at 10 cents.
If you are driving across the country for summer vacation, AAA offers an app for Android and iPhone to find the best prices along your route. The GasBuddy app can pinpoint prices by city, county, and state.