Cover Story: Fall's lower gas prices

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - There's pain at the pump but just how much it hurts may depend on where you're getting your gas.

We've found how much you pay for gas could depend on what part of Charlotte you drive in.

The big question is why?  We're not just talking pennies here, in some cases its 10, 20 even 30 and 40 cents cheaper.

Oil prices have taken a dive but gasoline hasn't fallen near as hard.  And now there's a huge gap in gas prices in the Charlotte area.

Soaring gasoline prices are in the rearview mirror.  That's the good news.  The bad news for drivers is they're not falling as fast as they could.

After peaking at $114 a barrel in May, on Tuesday oil fell to about $75 a barrel.

That's where oil was a year ago and gas in Charlotte was priced at $2.65 a gallon.

Gas is in Charlotte today:  $3.45 for regular at an Exxon station on Rea Road at I-485 in south Charlotte.

Tom Sullivan with AAA Carolinas says it takes a while to make it to the pump.

"I think they're hedging their bets a little bit," he says, "they don't want to bring those prices down as quickly as they would raise them because we don't know in a week or two we could be back up to $90 a barrel and then they'll have to increase them at that point."

Gasoline is going down. How fast depends on where you go.

At Perry's Market on Wilgrove-Mint Hill Road in east Charlotte it's down to $3.34 a gallon.  That's one of the cheapest in Charlotte.

And store clerk Brett Couch says it's got people smiling.

"Everybody comes in, they're real grateful and they say thanks. We really appreciate the gas prices. Everybody's very happy about it. Everybody loves it," he says.

Gas prices have always varied from one spot to the next but the gap now is especially wide.

Carl Flock, filling up on Tuesday, has really noticed it.

"I've seen it in Salisbury at $3.19. Come down the road it was $3.45, $3.40.  It's funny how different places got it different prices."

Remember the 3.45 gas in south Charlotte?  Go across the state line to Rock Hill, gas is down to $3.06 at this Raceway on Cherry Road.

That's a 39-cent difference between stations.

Even figuring in the difference in the gas tax between North and South Carolina (which is 18-cents) the price difference between the two stations is almost a quarter a gallon.

Keith Padgett's restaurant is between the Raceway and the Kangaroo Station (where gas is $3.07 a gallon).

"I'm hoping," he said.  "I think there might be hope in this country. Gas prices will finally come down where I can buy me a car and actually afford the gas."

So if you want to spend less you can do it.  But AAA's Tom Sullivan says especially now look around.

"Look for those off brands not the name brands.. you might be able to save a few pennies there. And those locations that are off the beaten path.. maybe away from interstates.. away from the heavily traveled roads you'll probably get a better price," he said.

Gas prices have dropped 23 days in a row.

Welcome relief considering we were on our way to having a record year.

Before it started falling gasoline was averaging $3.56 a gallon - the highest yearly average in history.

With the economy apparently slowing down demand for oil is forecast to be down.  And a stronger dollar compared to the European currency is helping drive the price of oil lower.

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