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Mexico's Cheap Gas Draws American Drivers

06/15/08 09:44 AM ET   AP

Gas

SAN DIEGO — If there's pain at the pump in the U.S., Mexico may just have a remedy. A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego retails for an average price of $4.61 a gallon. A few miles south, in Tijuana, it's about $2.54 _ even less if you pay in pesos.

More and more people appear to be taking advantage of the lower price.

"I used to buy exclusively in the U.S. before gas started really going up," said Patrick Garcia, a drama teacher at an elementary school in San Diego who lives in Tijuana. "Since then, I've been buying all my gas in Tijuana."

The lower prices mean a U.S. motorist could save almost $54 filling up a two-year-old Ford F150 pickup with a 26-gallon fuel tank in Mexico.

The differential in diesel is even greater, selling at $5.04 a gallon in San Diego County and $2.20 in Tijuana.

Paul Covarrubias, 26, who lives in Chula Vista and works in construction in San Diego, crosses the border each week just to refuel his dual-cab Ford F-250 pickup.

"I fill it up with diesel in Tijuana for $60," he said. "It would be almost twice that in San Diego."

Gas is cheaper in Mexico because of a government subsidy intended to keep inflationary forces in check.

Still, international gas-buying trips don't make sense for everyone. The wait getting back into the U.S. at the border in Tijuana frequently takes longer than two hours and cars can burn about a gallon of gas for each hour they idle.

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Filed by Nick Graham  |