Why gas prices are so high, and how to deal with it

The national average price for a gallon of gas is at the highest its been in seven years. There are multiple factors that are driving the cost up, and they seem to indicate that we can only expect minor relief in the near future. So what can we expect, and how can we deal with this increased expense?

Why are gas prices so high?

2020 was a slow year of crude production, thanks largely to COVID-19 workplace restrictions. This wasn’t an issue last year, when everybody was sitting at home and the demand for fuel was low. As the economy reopens, demand has surged past supply.

But there’s more to the picture, apparently. Articles by Forbes and NPR both reference OPEC being tight with their supply of oil, simply to keep profits high.

It’s also worth noting that fuel always goes up a little in the summer, due to the use of expensive summer blends that meet environmental regulations. Consumers can expect a small reduction in the price per gallon in the coming months as we shift to winter blends.

How to save on gas

There are always the obvious things you can do, like driving less and carpooling when possible.

Here are a few other things you can do to significantly reduce your fuel consumption and/or the price you pay per gallon.

1. Check your gas cap. Always make sure it’s screwed on tightly. Also realize that just because the cap still seats doesn’t mean it seats properly. If the seal is inadequate, you’ll lose pressure and, therefore, gas mileage. This is an easy and cheap fix you can do for significant savings.

2. Drive easy. This means accelerate slowly and drive at a reasonable speed. According to the Department of Energy most cars get their best fuel economy at or below 50 mph. This is not permission to drive under the speed limit, but it is a good reason to not speed.

3. Keep your tires inflated to the proper PSI. Low tire pressure increases resistance and reduces your momentum. Invest a few dollars into a small tire pressure checker and give your tires a quick check when you fuel up.

4. Decrease weight and air resistance. Driving around with heavy cargo in the trunk or the roof carrier will affect your mpg. Also consider that roof carriers will affect your aerodynamics and add to your fuel consumption, so it’s best to leave it off when you don’t need it.

5. Make sure your car is running properly. Routine maintenance, such as tune ups and keeping your fluids full and fresh, will keep your car running at peak performance. You can also get a checkup on your car to make sure that it is running at peak performance.

6. Use a lower viscosity oil. A thinner oil offers less resistance to the moving parts in your engine and increases fuel economy. If you’re unsure about what types of oil are acceptable for your vehicle, you can consult your manual, your dealership, or your local mechanic.

7. Fuel system maintenance. You can use fuel treatment products, change your fuel filter, or have a fuel system cleaning done on your vehicle. For consultation, or for help with these tasks, contact a mechanic you trust.

8. Find the places along your daily commute that have the best prices, and make it a point to fuel up when you’re already close by. This will reduce the need to drive out of your way to get fuel, and ensure you always get the best price. You can use an app like Gasbuddy to easily find the best prices in your area.

9. Use propane instead of gas. This is mainly for commercial fleet operators, but it's worth pointing out. In a previous article, we covered the benefits of using propane for commercial vehicles. One of these benefits is savings on gas. ABC Auto can do repairs on propane-powered vehicles, and even help you convert from gas to propane.


For tune ups, fluid changes, fuel system maintenance, and repairs on engines and transmission, drivers in the Des Moines area can contact ABC Auto. Fill out a contact form here or call us at (206) 395-5300.

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