Saturday, March 2, 2024

Spring brings higher prices at the pump; prices could rise by 40 cents

Refinery maintenance, the summer gas blend and increased demand means you'll pay more.

SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — Get ready for a “spring spike” at the gas pump. AAA is predicting gas hikes as much as 40 center per gallon as the summer approaches.

Consumers are already seeing higher prices than at the same time last year, AAA Carolinas is reporting.  In North Carolina, prices are averaging $2.41 per gallon.

“While pump prices have dipped in recent weeks, this is not a trend consumers should expect to linger,” the website states. “AAA forecasts the national gas price average will be as much as $2.70 per gallon this spring – a costly pump price Americans have not paid since summer of 2015 when prices hit $2.81.”

Tiffany Wright, of AAA Carolinas, said motorists should start to see gas prices rise in April.

“That is when refinery maintenance is expected to be wrapped-up and the switch-over to more expensive summer-blend gasoline kicks in, along with warmer weather and typical demand increases,” Wright said.

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And this could had an adverse effect on the local economy.

One AAA survey found that a majority of consumers would change their driving habits or lifestyle to offset higher gas prices. According to the website, one in four people surveyed say they would start making changes at $2.75, while 40 percent say $3 is their tipping point.

Changes consumers said they would make include combining errands or trips (79 percent), driving less (73 percent), reducing shopping or dining out (61 percent), delaying major purchases (50 percent) and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles (46 percent).

“AAA does not expect the national gas price to be reminiscent of 2011-2014, when motorists were paying on average $3.47 per gallon,” the website states. “While some states, like California, may see $4 per gallon, it will be temporary.”

Fuel savings tips

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, on average Americans drive 32 miles a day and spend 51 minutes behind the wheel. AAA offers a few ways to conserve fuel:

  • Slow down. The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Every 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.18 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy.
  • Share work or school rides by carpooling or consider public transportation.
  • Do not use your trunk for storage. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.
  • Combine errands. If possible, park in a central spot and walk from place to place.

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