You are driving home and you are low on gas. Why are the pump prices different from station to station? Well that is why Virtually Rick is here to help you “fill up” on the information, and hopefully it won't give you gas!

Here are five things to know

  1. The “Light/Sweet Crude” Oil, which is the tastier one we most regularly use as part of our gasoline, has fewer impurities in it than the thicker stuff. It is in hot demand and there is less of it around, so BINGO — prices up!
  2. The amount also gets regulated by a group called Opec, which is way too complex to explain here. There is also inflation. A gallon of gas in 1950 was 27 cents. It is going to be higher now, and then you add federal and local taxes that are about 18% on top, too.
  3. The key thing to note is that pump prices may vary — even across the street because of these main reasons: It depends which part of the country you live in. Some states and places are required to use special formulations of gasoline that include additives to help reduce pollution.
  4. California has some of the highest prices in the U.S. because only a few refineries offer the special blend of gas it uses. They have to operate at full stretch and if one of them has a malfunction — ding — the price goes up, again!
  5. Stations that are close together with different prices may just come down to one being more popular than the other because of the side of the street it is on — so it gets more traffic. That, plus the rent it pays and where it gets its gas from and how far away that is from the station can all push up the price at the pump.

So there you have it. All you ever needed to know about gas prices but were afraid to ask. The answer is far less crude than you thought.