Nearly 32 million Americans will take to the roads this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, seemingly undeterred by retail gasoline prices over $3 a gallon — a figure that is translating to $100 fill ups for some.
The national average for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.10 a gallon, and has climbed about 10 percent in the past month, according to AAA and OPIS.
"It's an anomaly to see these high gasoline prices in November, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analysts at the Oil Price Information Service. "It's going to be very difficult to sustain these prices."
But some analysts say prices could hit $3.50 by the end of the year as the run-up in crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices makes it way into the retail market. Oil prices hit an all-time high of $98.62 a barrel on Nov. 7, pushing wholesale gasoline prices higher.
Gasoline prices should be moving lower this time of year as refiners switch to processing crude into heating oil for the winter, but wholesale gasoline prices have also jumped nearly 10 percent since mid-October.
"The window we had to push prices down (during turnaround season for refiners) is nearly gone," says Anthony Grisanti, a gasoline trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange. "If oil prices stay up here, we could see $4 gasoline by the spring."
A price spike to $3.50 or $4 a gallon for retail gasoline could be a real shock to consumers, particularly those who drive sport utility vehicles which average 14 to 16 miles per calling in city-highway driving.
Already, it's costing nearly $100 to get the gauge from "E" To "F" for some drivers. At $3.50, that number jumps considerably. Owners of a Ford Expedition EL SUV, for example, will have to pay $117.25 to fill up their 33.5 gallon tanks according to calculations by Bankrate.com.
If you bought a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry for better gas mileage, you will save money — but still the cost of a fill up is getting steeper. Get ready to shell out $64.75 to fill up the 18.5 gallon gas tank. Still a pretty stiff price for a fill-up.