With gas prices breaking records in Metro Vancouver, it's no wonder that many drivers try to be strategic about when they decide to fill up the tank.

But tracking the frequent surges and drops in gas prices can be difficult – unless you know what to look for. Experts say if consumers watch carefully, they'll notice the fluctuations aren't totally random.

"Because you have the same group of 20 guys that have control over the vast majority of the sites in a market, there tends to be some symmetry in their pricing strategy, so you can identify patterns," said Jason Parent, vice-president of the Kent Group, a fuel industry consulting firm.

Analyst Dan McTeague of GasBuddy.com said there a few simple tips that can potentially save drivers as much as $100 a year on gas.

The first is waiting for the weekend to fuel up, when McTeague said stations can make pricing decisions with less input from head office.

"They often see opportunities to increase their volumes of gasoline. There's more people driving on the weekend, getting from here to there," he said. "(Stations) allow themselves an opportunity to drop retail margins a little bit."

The time of day matters as well, according to the experts. McTeague said prices are almost always higher in the morning.

"We often find in our analysis later in the afternoons and definitely in the evenings we start to see the 160.9 (cents a litre) drop to 157.9," he said.

Those patterns are fairly consistent across all gas stations in Metro Vancouver, but Parent said it's also wise to watch for localized patterns at your favourite fill-up spot.

"There are some markets that have two- or three-week patterns where prices start high, work their way down, then jump back up in a big increment again," he said. "Other markets will do a similar type pattern but it's over three days."

With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson