Gas price shopping in Toronto actually paying off
Torontogasprices.com lists the pump prices for gasoline in major cities based on observer submissions to the free access website. Postings are time stamped (e.g. 55 minutes ago) so you know if information is current and, after 24 hours, outdated price submissions are dropped.
Another useful site is tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com, which predicts the next day?s pump price in your city, so you?ll know whether it?s better to fill up today or wait until tomorrow. The prediction is usually posted by 4 p.m., and is typically smack on target.
I used to monitor these sites, but not so much as of late. I found that there was normally little price variation, if any, within a region. Even prices between neighbouring cities were identical, or near to it, as well. It seemed that competition between retailers was virtually non-existent, so price comparisons made little difference.
However, from Feb. 25 to 28 (Monday through Thursday), something curious has been afoot – there?s been a substantial and sustained price differential between regions. Lowest prices in the GTA over that period were 123.1 to 123.4 cents per litre at some, but not all, stations in Vaughan, Oshawa, Ajax and Whitby. Highest posted prices during that same time frame were 129.1 to 134.1 cents per litre, in practically all other Toronto area sites excluding those noted previously.
To confirm the information was correct, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, I drove from Richmond Hill, where gas was selling for 129.1 cents per litre, to just over the border into Vaughan (Major Mackenzie W. and Dufferin St.) where gas was indeed only 123.1 cents per litre.
A 70-litre fill saved me $4.20 by price shopping. Granted, it?s not going to change my life, but it still felt good and it paid for a cheap lunch. I didn?t have to drive out of my way, I just took a different route, so it wasn?t an unnecessary, gas consuming side trip ? which would counteract savings.
Later in the week, the price differential rose to 10 cents per litre between the highest and lowest priced stations, so my savings would theoretically climb to $7 per car. For a large pickup or SUV, the savings might be double that amount or more, based on tank capacity.
So, for one week anyhow, comparing gas prices online did pay off.