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Why is Gas so Expensive and How You Can Save Money at the Pump

5 min read

The expensive — and rising — cost of gasoline might have you rethinking a summer road trip or wondering if there’s an alternative way to commute to work.

But, why is gas so expensive right now?

The answer to that question has several parts. Many different factors contribute to fuel prices, causing them to fluctuate up and down. Keep reading to learn more about the increase in gas prices and tips you can use to save money at the pump.

Why are Gas Prices so High?

The price of gasoline seems to have skyrocketed in the past couple of months. As a driver, you might be wondering how prices could increase so suddenly. There are a few main reasons gas prices have jumped, and almost all of them have to do with the current increased demand for fuel.

Demand Rising with Fewer COVID-19 Restrictions

Americans are getting vaccinated and communities are opening up after more than a year of COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions. At the height of the pandemic, many people were working from home, making fewer trips to the store and staying home instead of going out. This included a decrease in people traveling for work, to visit family or to go on vacation.

As COVID-19 restrictions lift, more and more people are itching to get back on the road. This has created an unexpected and sudden rise in the gasoline demand. From returning to a daily commute to planning their first road trip after being in lockdown for ayear plus, many Americans need gas for their cars. Prices have gone up to account for the increase in demand which is now outpacing the current supply.

Refinery Shutdowns

Oil refineries take crude oil and refine it into the gasoline we use in our vehicles. The drop in demand for gas last year led to many refineries furloughing or laying off workers. Refineries that experienced a coronovirus outbreak also had to shut down and quarantine workers, which meant fewer gallons of oil could be refined each day.

Now that demand has started to increase, refineries have to replace workers that were let go during the pandemic. Prices are going up because less oil is being refined while refineries work to get back to peak production.

Regular Refinery Maintenance

The pandemic isn’t the only reason gas prices have gone up. Like any production facility, oil refineries require regular maintenance to stay in compliance with regulations and maintain a safe working environment.

Many oil refineries perform maintenance during the spring in anticipation of the summer driving season. A refinery that’s temporarily closed for maintenance can’t continue to produce gasoline for vehicles.

Increased Summer Travel

Summertime is traditionally one of the busiest times on American roadways. Children are out of school, the weather is nice, and summer holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July mean people have vacation time to spend.

More drivers on the road mean more roadside assistance calls, more accidents, and — yes — more demand for gas. Gas prices typically rise with the increase of drivers on the road each summer.

Summer Blends are More Expensive

Oil companies include additives in gasoline blends to help vehicles run more efficiently. This helps reduce pollution as more people take to the roads in summer. Summertime blends tend to be more expensive than their winter counterparts, so gas prices go up to meet the added cost during refining.

How to Save Money at the Pump

Knowing why gas prices have gone up can help you better understand why you’re paying more at the pump. That knowledge, however, probably doesn’t make you feel better about paying higher gas prices. The good news is there are tips and tricks you can use to save money on gas.

Protect Your Car and Save on Gas Station Stops

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to save a bit on gas station stops. But be prepared to pay a little more at the pump than before. An increase in gas prices isn’t the only thing to pay attention to this summer, however. Auto accidents also tend to increase when more drivers are on the road. Make sure your car is protected with the right auto insurance coverage before you hit the road.

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