Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Gas prices fall again (for most)

It's been a dizzying summer at the pump, as prices have dropped, increased and dropped again. Where they'll end up, nobody knows.

By Mitch Lipka Aug 12, 2013 5:32PM
Image: Buying gas (© moodboard/Corbis/Corbis)It's hard to know one week to the next where gas prices are going to be. First they take a big fall and the next thing you know they're through the roof.

In the month or so since some Americans were getting gas for less than $3 a gallon, we got jolted with a sharp increase. Now, prices seem to be sliding downward again -- selling at a national average of $3.55 a gallon, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. That's 7 cents less than the average just a week ago.

We're still not quite back to the point we were just ahead of July 4 when gas in several areas of the country -- mainly in the Midwest and South -- was under $3.

Average prices in the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina are the lowest right now at around $3.14 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. Even though the averages are above $3, at least folks in one city this week got to see the prices cross that magic line. GasBuddy did report a few stations in Anderson, S.C., managing to get to $2.99 a gallon.

Wide regional variations -- both caused by differences in supply and taxes -- mean some folks, like those in Santa Barbara, Calif., are still seeing prices above $4. And those in the Great Lakes states will find the price drop short-lived, with their prices set to rise at the pump even as they fall or remain stable elsewhere, according to a GasBuddy analysis.

Motorists in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky could see prices shoot up as much as 30 cents a gallon this week, GasBuddy said. The big rise is connected to a wholesale price increase that hasn't yet trickled down.

Gas is still pretty pricey compared to a few years ago. Until the spring of 2009, prices were still averaging below $2 a gallon nationally.


But part of the problem, according to some, is just how much gas Americans use. We use far more per capita than any other country, but also spend a smaller percentage of our income on fuel than in most nations, according to Bloomberg. Even though the prices we now pay might seem a pain, Americans suffer much less at the pump per gallon than most other places in the world, the news service says. A primary reason is that we buy so much of it to get around.

In addition to driving a more fuel efficient car there are ways to reduce gasoline consumption. Here are a few tips from AAA to help improve your gas mileage:

  1. Accelerate gradually. Avoid jackrabbit starts.
  2. Anticipate your stops. When approaching a red light, let your foot off the gas as early as possible.
  3. In summer, drive during cooler parts of the day. Cooler, denser air can boost power and mileage.
  4. Avoid long warm-ups in the morning. They’re unnecessary and waste fuel.
  5. Use air conditioning. Today’s air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open.
  6. Maintain recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires.
  7. Keep the air filter clean. Clogged filters reduce fuel economy and increase exhaust emissions.
  8. Drive the speed limit.

More from MSN Money:


3Comments
Aug 13, 2013 8:30AM
avatar

These articles on the price of gas are useless, as Americans are going to pay and drive no matter what the price is .... It's part of our culture, and with the decline of urban areas and the lack of public transportation in most areas, no one really has a choice. These slight decreases are calculated and put in place to ready us for the next increases, as with every substantial increase in oil or gas pricing, the cost of everything else goes up too in this country, and nothing ever goes down when the petroleum prices drop a bit. Personally, I once enjoyed driving, but between the cost of fuel, the antiquated road system near Pittsburgh where I live, and the idiots who think they can drive 90 miles an hour while talking on the phone and sipping their Starbucks, I have become a hermit, putting less than 7,000 miles a year on my car for the past 5 or 6 years. These modest fluctuations in gas pricing have little effect on the economy or consumer demand.

Aug 13, 2013 10:05AM
avatar
Don't worry folks....they jumped about .35 to .40 cents a gallon in a 2 week span.  Once the prices fall close to that level again the Wall Street Speculations will be waiting for a penguin to fart in Antarctica to raise the prices back up because "that may disrupt production".  What a joke at the  expense to the people.
Aug 13, 2013 10:06AM
avatar
Over the last six years I have made huge leaps in savings on gas. It took a massive effort and put me in debt. My commute to work went from a 136 miles a day, to 20 miles a day.  I purchased a home, and a 400cc  motorcycle.  What I was spending a month for gas equals my mortgage payment!! Instead of giving my money to OPEC. I am buying equity with a home. I now spend $28.00 a month on gasoline. Versus $650.00 a month. 
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More