Drivers have no love at the pumps this Valentine’s Day.
Gasoline prices in Los Angeles and Orange counties have hit record highs as geopolitical tensions drive up crude oil prices at a time when more people are looking to hit the road.
California currently has the most expensive gas in the country.
The average price for a regular gallon in Los Angeles and Long Beach was a record $4.77 on Monday, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
That’s up 3 cents from a week ago, 9 cents from a month ago and a whopping $1.22 from a year ago, said Doug Shupe, gatekeeper. word of AAA.
To put that into perspective, the driver of a midsize sedan with a 14-gallon tank pays about $17 more to fill up than last year, Shupe said.
People in Orange County are also experiencing pump pain. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.74, also a record high.
California’s current average price of $4.70 a gallon is more than a dollar higher than the national average of about $3.49.
California’s taxes and environmental requirements generally make its gas prices one of the most expensive in the country. The next highest prices in the United States are Hawaii, Washington State, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois.
“Drivers are used to higher prices in California, but what we’ve seen over the past two weeks is certainly raising eyebrows,” Shupe said.
“These increases, week after week, can be frustrating,” he added. “It’s hard for families right now, and for a lot of people right now, because of rising prices in many other areas.”
Governor Gavin Newsom proposed in January to suspend inflation-linked increases in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes scheduled for July.
Planned increases in 2023 and 2024 could also be delayed “if economic conditions warrant,” according to Newsom’s budget.
However, there is no immediate relief in sight.
Shupe said the main driver of the latest surge is an increase in crude prices amid searing geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Crude oil is now over $90 a barrel.
Warm weather and optimism that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is fading also helped, Shupe said. As people feel safer and temperatures rise, more people are starting to plan road trips, Shupe said.
With spring break approaching, demand for gas is expected to increase, pushing prices up further, he said.
Motorists can take steps to maximize their fuel efficiency, which could save money at the pump.
Here are some tips from AAA:
- Make sure your vehicle is running properly, including maintaining the correct tire pressure.
- Remove excess weight from inside the car, such as golf clubs or boxes of paperwork.
- Pack all items inside the car for travel, instead of traveling with an overhead bin that creates drag.
- Adjust your driving habits, including slowing down and avoiding sharp turns.
- Park in the shade or use a sun shade so you don’t have to start the air conditioning.
- Combine errands into fewer trips during the day.
- Shop around for the cheapest gas prices.
Los Angeles Times