The claim: A Los Angeles gas station is charging customers $5.55 a gallon for fuel
Gas prices are surging around the country, but not as wildly as some photos circulating on social media would suggest.
In a Facebook post shared on March 15, a photo of a Chevron station in Los Angeles shows the price of a regular gallon of gasoline at $5.55. The cost of diesel at the time the photo was taken was $5.85.
Text on the photo implies it is reflective of the rise in gas prices around the U.S.
“Were the tweets really that bad? Asking for the entire country,” it reads, alluding to President Joe Biden’s defeat of former President Donald Trump, whose Twitter account was banned after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, in the 2020 election.
But that station is an outlier, like others that have been shared to exaggerate rising fuel prices. It is more than 40% higher than the average price in Los Angeles and has trended 62 cents higher than a nearby competitor, according to GasBuddy.
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“We’re well aware of this station’s history to charge well in excess of average or nearby prices,” said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, in an email to USA TODAY.
Buck Sexton, the conservative talk radio personality who shared the photo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Where is that station?
The Chevron station in the photo is at 901 Alameda St., just north of downtown Los Angeles in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. It sits at a confluence of Alameda and Main streets with Cesar Estrada Chavez Drive.
A Google Street View of the address shows the photo faces north on Main Street, with the same California Endowment building in the background.
Los Angeles Union Station is just southeast of the Chevron station, and satellite photos show several parking lots around the area.
The station could not be reached for comment.
A hand placing a credit card into a gas pump card reader. (Photo: Getty Images)
Gas prices higher, but not that high
While both GasBuddy and AAA have been tracking higher gas prices around the country; for Los Angeles, the Chevron station in the photo is significantly more expensive than the average.
Dozens of reviews of the station on GasBuddy’s website complain about its prices.
“Currently my nominee for most expensive gas in the LA area,” one reviewer wrote in July 2020. “Will it be dethroned?”
De Haan said GasBuddy’s data showed the station was selling regular gasoline for $5.65 a gallon in the afternoon of March 17. At that time, the average price in Los Angeles was $3.91 a gallon — about 45% lower than the Chevron station.
Gas prices are indeed rising. AAA showed the average price in the Los Angeles area at about $3.92 a gallon the morning of March 18, up from $3.57 a month earlier and $3.38 a year ago.
Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of regular gas is up about 12% over the last month, from $2.58 a gallon to $2.88 a gallon. Compared with a year earlier, when travel halted as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S., gas prices are up about 30%.
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But De Haan said the Chevron station in the photo has had higher-than-average prices for years. GasBuddy data shows the station’s prices have been above average every day since Jan. 1, 2016, he said. During that time it has averaged a price of $4.44 a gallon, De Haan said, compared with $3.26 a gallon at a Valero station down the road at 500 S. Alameda St.
“This highlights the importance of motorists shopping around as plenty of lower priced stations are nearby this station,” he said.
Ten states have gas prices that have cracked the barrier of $3 for an average gallon of regular. (Photo: NithidPhoto / iStock via Getty Images)
Our ruling: Missing context
A post of a Chevron station in Los Angeles selling gas for $5.55 a gallon that claims it is related to Joe Biden’s election, is MISSING CONTEXT. While the photo shows a price board that is closely aligned with prices tracked by GasBuddy, the station historically has had above-average prices. Its current price is about 45% higher than the average for Los Angeles.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, March 3, Fact check: Photo of high gas prices in Beverly Hills lacks context
- USA TODAY, Feb. 10, Twitter CFO says Donald Trump ban really is forever (even if he’s elected president again)
- Google Maps, accessed March 18, Street View of 901 Alameda St.
- Google Maps, accessed March 18, Overview of Chinatown in Los Angeles
- Gas Buddy, accessed March 18, Reviews of Chevron station, 901 Alameda St.
- AAA auto club, accessed March 18, Gas prices in California
- AAA auto club, accessed March 18, Gas prices in U.S.
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