Chevron Gas Station in South San Francisco, 2019.

Gas prices continue to inch toward $5.00 per gallon of regular gas, although the increases have leveled off over the past two weeks. According to AAA, gas prices have reached a national average of $4.94 a gallon. That’s an increase of 6 cents from last month, and also $1.87 above what gasoline retailed for at the same time last year. While this is the national average, prices are well above $5.50 a gallon in some areas of the country. California currently has an average price of $6.35 a gallon. (Per AAA’s News Wire).

What is Driving High Gas Prices? 

Historically speaking gas prices increase during the summer and decline during the fall and winter. This seasonal trend is due to two reasons.  First, people drive more during the summer.  Second, environmental regulations mandate that during the summer refiners must place expensive additives in gasoline that prevent its evaporation (Source: EIA.gov). 

Geopolitical events also impact gas prices.  For example the current war between Russia and Ukraine is impacting international trade and increasing prices for food and other commodities.  In addition, oil producing countries have been slow to respond to changing demand.  During the Covid-19 pandemic OPEC nations cut production, but did not start increasing it until July of 2021, too late to fully meet consumer demand. 

Sanctions on Russia have also continued to place pressure on the price of oil.  While the United States only purchases about 10% of its oil and natural gas from the Russian Federation, sanctions have made it more difficulty for global markets to purchase Russian petrochemicals, which has resulted in upward price pressure (Per CBSNews.com).

For those who are looking for ways to save money on gasoline, be sure not to waste money by mistakenly following gas saving myths. Here are a few tips that can help you save money:

Remove Racks & Clean

If you placed racks on your car for winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding, it’s time to take them off. The extra wind resistance that they create while driving will reduce your gas mileage. While you’re at it, it’s also a good time to clean out the trunk and back seat of your vehicle of any items that don’t need to be there. Any extra weight that your car carries around while you drive reduces its gas mileage.

Check That Air Filter

If you haven’t checked your car’s air filter in a while, it’s time to do it. It’s estimated that as many as one in four cars on the road needs to have their air filter replaced. Depending on how dirty the air filter is in your car, it can decrease your gas mileage by as much as 10%. While it will cost you a bit of money to replace the air filter, it will quickly pay for itself with increased gas mileage, and not having to fill up your car as often.

Avoid Idling

When you let your car idle for long periods of time, all you’re doing is wasting gas. If you are stopped for more than 15 to 20 seconds, it’s more fuel-efficient to turn off the car and start it again rather than to let it idle. That means that you’ll save money if you turn off your car instead of letting it idle when you run to the ATM to take out money, while you’re waiting for someone, when you get stopped at railroad tracks, or if you find yourself in a traffic jam.

Walk & Bike

One of the most effective ways to save money on gasoline is to reduce your consumption by driving less. This is actually a lot easier than most people think, but it does require you to make an extra effort. For those errands that are nearby, instead of just jumping into your car and driving, consider alternative ways to get there such as walking or biking. For weekend trips, choose activities that are closer to home rather than longer trips to places farther away. Taking the time to plan trips more effectively and to use alternative ways of getting there when the errands are close by, you can reduce consumption by quite a bit.

Combine Errands

When you’re ready to do your daily errands, plan them in such a way that you can do them all at the same time rather than taking multiple trips during the day. By taking a single trip rather than making several, you’ll end up saving both time and gas.  Combining errands does take more planning, but you will waste much less gas and have more time for yourself during the day.

Regularly Rotate Tires

Get into the habit of rotating your tires on a regular basis. A good way to remind yourself to do this is to have it done when you have your oil changed. Rotating your tires will allow them to wear more evenly, which will help your car get better gas mileage. An added benefit is that the tires will also last longer so that you don’t have to replace them as often, therefore saving even more money.

Check Tire Pressure

Although you’ve probably heard this gas saving tip a million times, it’s one that many people still don’t do. Tires that are under-inflated waste gas and wear out the tires more quickly. An easy way to remember to check your tire pressure on a regular basis is to purchase a tire air pressure gauge

that can fit in the area by your gas. Each time you go to fill up your car, the tire gauge will be there to remind you to check the pressure, and make sure that your tires are properly inflated.

For more great Saving Advice reads, consider these articles:

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Costco Gas

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Thirty Eight Ways To Make Extra Money You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Saving To Be A Millionaire – You Just Need $1.44 Per Day