Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wadda Ya Mean, Ya Sez Ya Can’t Sell Me $1.00 of Gasoline!

Ever tried to buy only ONE dollar of gasoline? You can’t do it. You can buy 99.9 cents worth, but never an even dollars worth, or $2.00, or $3.00, etc.

Why is that? Several reasons. Foremost, we are quite befuddled by fractional math. Sure, 4 divided by 2 = 2, but exactly how many gallons of gasoline can you buy for $10 at $2.04 and 9/10ths a gallon?

The addition of 9/10 cent to the price of a gallon of gasoline makes impossible the purchase of one gallon of gasoline at the advertised price. And it makes our mathematically challenged brains crash into a state of befuddlement.

Imagine if all groceries, postage stamps and tuition were sold like that? So why do we do it with gasoline?

Well, some research says that a difference of two-tenths of a cent (about 30¢ for an average fill-up) may be enough to sway consumers' buying decisions. “Because of this, service stations quickly react to the price posted on the street corner by their competition and adjust their price accordingly. If not, they risk the possibility of losing their customers.”

Don’t lose a lot of sleep over this issue. What you ought to be worried about is why paying for a gallon of gas will likely always result in getting more or less than you should.
For example, gasoline volume changes approximately 0.058% for every 1ºF change in temperature. “The energy content of a gallon of gasoline purchased by a motorist in Nome, Alaska in January could, theoretically, be as much as 8-10% greater that that of a gallon of gasoline purchased by a motorist in Marion, IL (center of the universe, I’m told) in July.” So 10 gallons in Alaska might be 11 gallons in Illinois. But, they contain the same amount os useful energy. You pay for 11, but really only get the value of 10.

Robbery you say? Read more about it.


Ah, it probably works out. It takes more energy to make things go in cold weather, anyway--at least until everything warms up. That is, unless you run the A/C full blast during those Marion Julys. In that case, yeah, you probably are getting gypped.
I read in some guide to saving money that it's best to gas up at night because the lower temperature causes the gas to contract and you can put more gas in the same amount of space, thus getting your gas cheaper.
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