The nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline has topped $5 for the first time ever.
Auto club AAA said the average price on Saturday was $5.00. Motorists in some parts of the country, especially California, are paying far above that.
The national average price has jumped 19 cents in just the past week, and it's up $1.93 from this time last year.
There are several reasons for the surge in gasoline prices.
Americans typically drive more starting around Memorial Day, so demand is up. Global oil prices are rising, compounded by sanctions against Russia, a leading oil producer, because of its war against Ukraine. And there are limits on refining capacity in the United States because some refineries shut down during the pandemic.
Add it all up, and the cost of filling up is draining money from Americans who are facing the highest rate of inflation in 40 years.
California has the highest average price, at $6.43, according to AAA. The lowest average is Mississippi, at $4.52.
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While this is the first time breaking the $5 barrier, it's still not a record when inflation is taken into account. Gas peaked at $4.11 a gallon in July 2008, which would be equal to about $5.40 a gallon today.
Some Tips from AAA
With gas prices soaring, here are some ways to save on gas.
- Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure recommended on the inside of your driver's side door,. Under-inflated tires create more rolling resistance with the pavement and reduce mileage. Check them periodically with a tire pressure gauge and do not over-inflate. "Typically, your gas mileage is going to be impacted by about 5% to 10% if you don't have proper inflation," said David Bennett, manager of repair systems for AAA.
- Maintain your vehicle by changing the oil and other fluids. Replace air and filters and spark plugs.
- Watch your speed. AAA says fuel economy peaks around 50 miles per hour on most vehicles, then drops as speed increases. Reducing highway speeds by 5 mph to 10 mph improves gas mileage by up to 14%.
- Don't idle too much. An engine burns one-quarter to a half-gallon of gas per hour when idling, but a warm engine needs only around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart, according to AAA.