It’s getting more and more expensive to fill up your tank — though it’s nothing like the summer of 2011 when the price of gas was more than $4 a gallon in some parts of the country. Even though it’s a bit cheaper now, we still had some of the highest gas prices during the past summer.
Learning how to predict gas prices can help you save some money while filling up your car. How can you predict gas prices, and what affects the price of gas?
What Affects the Price of Gas?
How are the prices that you pay at the pump determined? The most significant factor is the current price of crude oil — this accounts for between 50 and 61 percent of the cost of gasoline at the pump. The higher the price of crude oil, the higher the price of gas.
State and federal taxes also affect the price you pay at the pump. The federal government puts an excise tax on gasoline of $0.1830 cents per gallon, and a Leaking Underground Storage Tank fee of $0.1 cent per gallon. You have state taxes, as well, which will, of course, vary from state to state.
The costs of refining gasoline from crude oil is also a factor in the price you pay. The type and quality of the crude oil play into this cost, as well — the higher the quality of the oil, the less it costs to refine and the less you end up paying to fill your tank.
Finally, you also have to consider distribution and marketing. Those big fuel tanker trucks don’t run for free, and they don’t drive themselves, after all.
Predicting Gas Prices
Predicting gas prices can be complicated, especially if you’re not an industry insider. Thankfully, you have plenty of tools to help you decide when to fuel up and when to pass on stopping at the gas station. Gas Predictor, for example, averages out gas prices in 10 major cities, in addition to looking at the changes in crude oil prices and the pricing trend. They even recommend when you should fill up to save the most money.
If you have a smartphone, consider installing Gas Buddy. This app gives you up-to-date crowdsourced information about current gas prices in your local area. It will even tell you when gas stations are out of gas, which can be a useful tool in an emergency. Many people were installing this app during the 2017 hurricane season when media-induced panic encouraged everyone to go gas up their cars and stations were running out of fuel.
While you might not be able to predict gas prices down to the penny, you don’t have to worry about doing the math before you head out to fill up your car. Just use one of the resources we’ve listed above and let the industry experts do the legwork for you.