Use retail diesel price data to determine the best markets for buying fuel

FreightWaves Customer SuccessDaily Tips

Did you know? You can see daily fluctuations in retail diesel prices around the country, either as a national average or in specific markets.

What is it?

Diesel truckstop retail diesel prices – We gather data from hundreds of truckstops to produce a SONAR series that provides daily updates on the average price at the pump. SONAR has data on individual cities and regions as well as a national average price.



The chart above shows how the national average can be compared to a specific city or regional price. For example, DTS.CHI shows the retail price of diesel in the Chicago market.

The chart below is a tree map of the one month change in retail fuel prices for a wide range of cities. They can be customized to follow the cities that are important to your company.


SONAR TreeMap: DTS.USA – One Month Change

Who needs it?

Carriers: The DTS series can give you day-to-day information on what prices are doing in specific markets. A comparison among several cities can show a carrier that diesel costs at the beginning of a trip might be cheaper than at the end of the trip. Also: the ULSDR series gives the wholesale price of diesel. While the price at the pump does not necessarily follow the wholesale price, it can signal an upcoming directional change in prices.

Brokers: A broker is in the middle of two parties with an exposure to the price of diesel. The 3PL also could be establishing fuel surcharges in its transactions. Knowing the direction of retail fuel provides greater transparency about where markets are going, particularly in regard to what the DOE is going to find when it does its weekly survey in setting the weekly average retail price.

Shippers: What direction is the fuel surcharge going to go? This data series will be your best barometer.

What can I do with it?

Fuel is generally the second-largest cost for any trucking company or for shippers analyzing their fuel cost structure. Many companies have employed the services of fuel consultants who help devise fuel purchasing and risk management best practices for companies to follow. But using the data in the DTS series can give you a daily outlook on what is happening with prices at a very granular level. That base of knowledge is helpful whether you’re an owner-operator trying to ensure that you accept a price for a load that will fairly compensate you for fuel costs, whether you’re a shipper whose exposure to the price of fuel comes through a surcharge, or whether your fuel costs are being run through a plan devised by an outside expert.  

Show me how!

To create a line chart

1.) Click the large Plus sign in the top right corner of a custom page.


2.) Select the chart option from the drop-down menu.


3.) If you want to make a plain bar graph, type the SONAR symbol for the particular market. A national average for retail diesel can be seen at DTS.USA. A particular market would be its own code, such as the aforementioned DTS.CHI for Chicago.


4.) Hit return and the chart will appear.


Create a tree chart to view the retail diesel fuel price in multiple markets across the nation. 

1.) After again going to the large plus sign, click on Tree Map.


2.) Give your Tree Map chart a name. Click on manage symbols. Click on Energy-price. Go down to Diesel Truck Stop actual price per gallon. Click on XMKT. A list of the locations will pop up. Click on the ones you want in your tree map. Click on Add Selected Items. Click Done.


3.) Click Save, and your Tree map will appear.



4.) In the top left corner, you can change the map to view the change in diesel fuel prices over one week, two weeks, monthly or one year.


Pro Tip: Use truckstop retail diesel prices (DTS) along with ULSD rack price (ULSDR) to compare the difference between wholesale and retail diesel fuel prices.

Not a SONAR customer but want to learn more about SONAR? Visit the SONAR website to learn more. Or click the button to the right to get a demo.

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