Ironically, the Motor City is not exactly friendly environs per gasoline costs. The state of Michigan collects a 54.5 – cent per gallon gasoline tax on top of Lansing’s 6% sales tax at the pump.
Michigan tax policies rival California (63.9) and Illinois (57.9) at the top of the order in terms of gasoline levies in the U.S. and equate to average costs of $2.78 per one regular gallon of gasoline in Detroit. Today, the charges compare unfavorably to the U.S. Department of Energy average of $2.67.
Irrespective of the taxman, Detroit still lies more than 1,000 miles away from the critical Gulf Coast, which is the nerve center of all U.S. energy infrastructure. Certainly, the heady transportation costs of shipping distant crude oil and refined gasoline from the Middle East and Gulf States into Michigan contributes to gas prices at the point of sale that are higher than average.
Of course, the miserable economic plight of Detroit has been well documented. Fuel that retails amidst hardscrabble neighborhoods and complete urban wastelands may always be described as cheap. However, I am certain that those unfamiliar with the City of Detroit would balk at venturing deep into the ghetto to save five bucks upon the fill up.
Also, U.S. citizens will not look favorably upon crossing the Detroit River into Ontario to purchase gas. First, gas at Windsor is actually more expensive than Detroit due to our weak greenbacks relative to the Canadian Dollar and the fact that Ontario’s fuel taxes are tremendously steep. Secondly, converting gallons into liters and monitoring exchange rates is beyond the scope of this writing.
This guide will present the M-1 Woodward Avenue corridor as the most expensive area to buy gas in Detroit and explore options for the service stations that line Michigan’s Main Street.
Where NOT to Buy Cheap Gas in Detroit: M-1 Woodward Avenue
Woodward Avenue is a death trap for expensive gas.
Detroit’s Main Street is the centerpiece behind Justice Augustus B. Woodward’s city plan, which radiates from the Grand Circus. Woodward Avenue bisects the metropolitan area from downtown to Pontiac.
M-1 barrels through Detroit’s commercial district, prior to cutting a wide swath through gritty inner-city neighborhoods towards the 8-Mile Road border. Woodward then opens up into a leafy promenade through the wealthy sections of Oakland County.
Although I-75 runs parallel to M-1 throughout the Motor City, Woodward will always be associated as Detroit’s Main Drag and monument to motor vehicle transportation. Of course, the high gas prices along this major thoroughfare would indicate that M-1 is indeed, the center of all things Detroit.
Detroiters are initially (mis)treated to an excessive $2.89 per gallon regular at the Robinson Mobil. Interestingly, this 4661 Woodward Avenue location is not yet even situated downtown. The price action mirrors a curious trend of high prices along Woodward, irrespective of location and proximity to Detroit’s commercial district.
The high gas beat goes on all up and down Woodward. The Woodward Sunoco and BP, which both front the I-94 Ford Freeway are ringing up regular gasoline at $2.85 per gallon. Interestingly, the Sunoco at Woodward and the Davison is charging $2.81 for gas within the decrepit Highland Park.
Of course, Oakland County implements the finishing touches upon the M-1 outrageous gas price playbook. The BP – Royal Oak, just north of the I-696 JCT at Woodward is peddling 87-octane regular fuel at $2.99. Prices will generally approach a median of $2.90 at Woodward Avenue into Oakland County.
Still, we must point out that Royal Fuels at Woodward and Sunset Boulevard in Royal Park is currently selling cheap gas at $2.73.
Besides Royal Fuels, gas prices are always cheaper directly to the east of Woodward. Detroiters and Oakland County residents should always navigate towards the I-75 – Chrysler Freeway junctions to fill up the tank. Service stations are located at every interchange and undersell the prevailing Woodward Avenue competition.
For example, the BP at Woodward and 12-Mile is charging $2.79 for regular, while the Speedway at 12-Mile prior to the Chrysler posts $2.74. In fact, we must highlight a shocking 27-cent spread between Woodward and I-75 gas prices at Royal Oak and Madison Heights between 12-Mile and I-696.
The Royal Oak BP and Royal Oak Shell (735 S. Main) are retailing gasoline at $2.99 off Woodward and the I-696 Reuther Freeway. However, the Madison Heights Mobil, located almost directly to the east at 404 W. 11-Mile Road and I-75 is offering cheap gas at $2.72. This curious arrangement holds true from the Grand Circus to Pontiac.
Said Detroit – Oakland County gas price matrix is contrary to logic. Gas stations located adjacent to Interstate highways across the country typically feature higher prices, rather than the M-1 / I-75 flip flop.
Perhaps the findings are yet another indictment of Detroit’s overbuilt freeway system that has decimated the inner city, while preserving the elite townships. All Detroit freeways track right-of-ways that have emerged to separate the haves from the have-nots. Higher property values along M-1 have increased the costs of doing business, which is passed on to motorists per point of sale.
Where to Buy Cheap Gas in Detroit
Cheap gas is available for sale at I-75, I-96 – Rosa Parks (Jeffries), and M-3 Gratiot Avenue, relative to the surrounding areas. These major thoroughfares do provide cheap gas options from all sides of Detroit.
We have already detailed I-75 as a better alternative than M-1 to purchasing gas from points north. Gas is also cheap at the Detroit border off the Fisher into Melvindale and River Rouge.
Motorists will pick up Fort Street to Oakwood, or cut over to W. Jefferson and River Rouge for cheap gas at the fringes of industrial Southwest Detroit. Regular gasoline is retailing for $2.63, $2.65, and $2.67 at various Schaefer Road, Oakwood Boulevard, and Jefferson filling stations.
Per Detroit’s West Side, cheap gas may be purchased directly within the historic Barton-McFarland neighborhood off the I-96 – Jeffries. The Valero at 10840 Joy Road is moving gas for $2.67 at the time of this writing.
Still, suburban commuters and those unfamiliar with the area may balk at the proposal to exit the freeway into Detroit City. Although the area is identified with inner-city grit, Barton-McFarland is a shade more appealing than the blighted Cass Corridor and East Side urban prairies.
M-3 Gratiot Avenue does represent the best corridor to buy cheap gas at Detroit’s East Side and into Macomb County. M-3 lies just within the exclusive lakefront Grosse Point and St. Clair Shores communities and directly west of I-94. The price of gas typically falls the further that one moves inland and away from Lake St. Clair.
The Speedy at 10070 Gratiot sells regular gasoline at $2.69, while gasoline along Jefferson and Mack Avenue at Detroit and Grosse Pointe Farms is retailing from $2.90 – $3.00.
Interestingly, Clinton and Harrison townships are the best Detroit locales for cheap gas. Fuel prices will range from $2.60 – $2.65 at Metropolitan Parkway (16-Mile); and the 35000-block of Harper Avenue features a cluster of service stations that are offering cheap, regular gas at $2.61 per gallon. The area is easily accessible from I-94, with exits directly off the freeway.
Detroiters should not mind the 5-10 mile drive to Macomb County to fill up.
This is the Motor City.