Personal Finance

Spring gas prices expected to be 17 percent higher than last year

Key Points
  • Right now, the national average is about $2.54 per gallon, compared with $2.31 a year ago.
  • While prices are expected to head even higher, they are still far from the $4.11 a gallon reached in July 2008.
  • There are ways to save on gas, including shopping around, planning ahead — and, yes, slowing down.
A customer pumps gasoline into his car at a service station in San Francisco.
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Although gas prices have been creeping downward over the last several weeks, drivers shouldn't get used to it.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gas is expected to reach $2.70 at some point in May or June, according to an AAA forecast released Thursday.

While gas prices typically head higher every spring due to increased demand, that anticipated figure is about 6 percent more than the current average of $2.54, and 17 percent more than the $2.31 of a year ago. For most of the spring and summer 2017, the average price hovered around $2.30 or trended lower.

The last time gas crossed the $2.70 threshold was in summer 2015, according to AAA data. However, it's still far below the high of $4.11 reached in July 2008.

If the higher prices pinch your budget or affect your vacation plans, there are ways to save money on gas, experts say.

For starters, shop around

Depending on where you live, there can be big price swings between gas stations. For instance, a review of the Los Angeles area found a difference of about $1 per gallon between the highest- and lowest-price stations, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for

While the difference in price per gallon may only be a few pennies, it still adds up.

"Even if it's a difference of a nickel or dime, that could become a couple hundred dollars in savings," DeHaan said.

Also, if you cross state lines in your driving, be aware that there can be stark differences in price from one state to the next.

"Sometimes the difference can be 40 cents or even 80 cents a gallon," DeHaan said.

Additionally, if you can plan ahead by using an app to find the best prices along your route, do it, DeHaan said. Some gas stations also offer discounts if you pay with cash.

Economic impact of higher gas prices
Economic impact of higher gas prices

AAA offers these tips for saving on gas as you drive:

  • Slow down. The faster you drive, the more fuel you use. Every 5 miles per hour over 50 mph is like paying an additional 18 cents 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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