Major oil-producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, have decided to drastically reduce the amount of oil they deliver to the global economy. And the law of supply and demand suggests that can only mean one thing: higher prices are on the way for gasoline.
Oil prices had fallen after a summer of highs. Now, after the OPEC+ decision, they are heading for their biggest weekly gain since March. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 3.2% on Friday to $91.31 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 2.8% to $97.09, though it was still down 20% from mid-June when it traded above $123 a barrel.
Over the past week, the national average price for a gallon rose 9 cents, to $3.89, according to AAA.
This means that the cost to pump 15 gallons into a vehicle is now $58.35. Four fill-ups a month would cost over $233.40, a big chunk of anyone’s budget.
With gas prices so high, owners may be thinking of replacing their old vehicles with something more efficient. But it may not be profitable. The global shortage of computer chips and other parts has curtailed production of new vehicles, driving up prices. This sent many people into the used car market, which also drove up prices.
The average used vehicle cost $28,061 in August. The middle nine? $46,259, according to JD Power.
As a rule, comparable electric vehicles are still more expensive than gasoline-powered vehicles, although battery charging is usually much cheaper.
All is not necessarily lost. There are steps you can take to make an old car, truck, or SUV perform better, go further, and possibly save some money on fuel:
Keep your tires properly inflated
Make sure there is enough air in the tires. Under-inflated tires create more rolling resistance with the pavement, reducing gas mileage. Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure inside the driver’s side door. Check them periodically with a tire pressure gauge.
“Generally, your gas mileage will be affected by about 5% to 10% if you don’t have proper inflation,” said David Bennett, repair systems manager for AAA.
But do not inflate too much. This could lead to faster tire wear.
Ensure fluids and filters are changed
Maintain your vehicle properly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for changing oil and other fluids and for replacing air and other filters. Replacing spark plugs at the proper intervals can also help.
“The vehicle will operate at peak efficiency” with proper maintenance, Bennett said. It will cost between $235 and $289 for new spark plugs on, say, a 10-year-old Ford F-150 pickup with a 4.6-liter V8, according to Repairpal.com.
Watch your speed
AAA indicates that fuel economy peaks at around 50 miles per hour on most vehicles, then declines as speed increases. Reducing highway speed from 5 mph (8 kilometers per hour) to 10 mph improves gas mileage by up to 14%.
Freewheeling to stop lights also helps. Time your trip to keep rolling and avoid unnecessary stops. Cars use a lot of fuel to move from a dead stop.
Plan your trip in advance
Try to minimize backtracking. Multitask on each trip. Avoid rush hour and other peak times.
Don’t idle too much
An engine burns a quarter to a half-gallon (1.9 liters) of gasoline per hour when idling, but a warm engine only needs about 10 seconds of fuel to restart, according to AAA.
So, when it’s safe to do so, turn off your engine if you’ve been stopped for more than a minute. Many new vehicles do this themselves. Bennett says owners shouldn’t disable their new “stop-start” system.
Fill up with gasoline designated as “Top Tier”. Oil companies put additives in Top Tier gas that reduce carbon deposits.
“As you start to build up carbon, the vehicle won’t run as efficiently,” Bennett said. Gasoline brands with additives have stickers on the pumps. They can be found at here.