The prices Midwesterners are paying for gas are close to a dollar more than a year ago. Prices rose 20-30 cents the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, and are now about 40 cents higher than they were a month ago.
Experts fear the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could severely disrupt oil supplies in the region, which would lead to even larger increases in gas prices. Russia is the second-largest oil producer in the world, behind the U.S.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of 2020, Russia contributed about 7% of gross petroleum imports to the U.S.
Other countries from which the U.S. imports oil include Canada and OPEC, which comprises several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
The U.S. could see gas prices go up as high as $4 by spring, and markets like California and Hawaii – where gas is already expensive – could top $5.
But these numbers aren’t even the extent of the problem. When fossil fuels get expensive, their rising costs can propagate through the rest of the economy. In the past few months, companies have complained that high oil and natural-gas prices are raising the cost of shipping goods (because trucks, ships, and planes burn fuels), packaging them (because plastic uses crude oil as a chemical feedstock), and even growing new food (because fertilizer is made with natural gas). Some of these higher costs ultimately flow to consumers as rising prices across the board.
In the meantime, finding the cheapest gas prices isn’t the only way to save money on gas. AAA recommends other ways to make sure you’re using as little gasoline as possible.
How to save
Be sure your car is properly maintained. A faulty oxygen sensor in your engine can wipe out 40% of your fuel economy. After a proper tune-up, drivers see an average of 4% increases in fuel efficiency.
Inflate your car tires to the maximum safe limit specified by your vehicle manufacturer. Underinflated car tires may provide a slightly more smooth ride, but at the expense of lower fuel efficiency. For every 1 PSI under the recommended maximum limit, you lose 0.2% of your gas mileage. . If your tires will support 38 PSI and you’re riding around at 28 PSI, you could be losing 2% of your gas mileage.
Get the correct motor oil. The wrong motor oil can reduce gas mileage and gas savings by 1-2%, like using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 or 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20. Be sure to look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol; energy-conserving motor oil will help engine performance.
Change or clean your air filters! In 2009, the Department of Energy found that the difference in fuel economy between a new air filter and a clogged air filter was a whopping 14% drag on your gas mileage. Make sure you’re bringing your car in for regular oil changes and air filter checks to keep it running the best.
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice