Florida gas prices surge upward

Florida gas prices are at their highest in seven years and have climbed 13 cents statewide in the past week, according to a AAA report released Monday.

AAA reported the national average price per gallon is $3.27, up 8 cents per gallon, and crude oil prices are at their highest since October 2014.

“The key driver for this recent rise in the price of gas is crude oil, which typically accounts for between 50 percent and 60 percent of the price at the pump,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross in a statement. “And last week’s decision by OPEC and its oil-producing allies to not increase production further only exacerbated the upward momentum for crude oil prices.”

According to AAA, Florida had the fourth-largest weekly increase at 13 cents, trailing only Washington, D.C., at 17 cents, and Kentucky and Indiana at 15 cents.

“I drive 40 miles to work every day to Gilchrist County, and it’s higher over there,” Gainesville’s Jim Miller said. “They just went up yesterday from $3.10 to $3.19 in one day. It puts a damper on a limited budget. It’s tough.”

On Oct. 27, 2014, the price was $3.11 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration report. The lowest prices over the past decade were reported on May 11, 2020 at $1.82 per gallon. Alachua, Dixie, Levy and Suwannee counties are in the top 40 percent of average price rates among Florida’s 67 counties.

Florida State Gas prices website showed the lowest price per gallon in Gainesville was at Sam’s Club at $3.03. Both the Chevron station at West University Avenue and NW 11th Street and the Shell station off NW 39th Rd and West Newberry were tied with the highest price at $3.29 per gallon.

Nationwide, the most expensive states are California ($4.44 per gallon), Hawaii ($4.12), Nevada ($3.87), Washington ($3.85), Oregon ($3.75), Idaho ($3.72), Alaska ($3.71), Utah ($3.70) and Wyoming ($3.51).

AAA recommends the following fuel-saving tips:

Ownership, Maintenance & Repairs

  • When buying a car, look for models that offer the best fuel economy in their class. For most drivers, an optional larger and/or more-powerful engine is unnecessary.
  • Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Modern cars don’t need “tune ups,” but regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy, performance and longevity.
  • Take your car to a repair shop as soon as possible if the “Check Engine” light comes on. This indicates a problem that is causing excessive emissions and likely reducing fuel economy.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Underinflation reduces fuel economy, but more importantly, tires low on air degrade handling and braking, wear more rapidly and can overheat and blow out.

The Daily Drive

  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard acceleration. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.

To idle or not to idle

  • Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in winter. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
  • Avoid prolonged idling in general. If your car will be stopped for more than 60 seconds, shut off the engine to save fuel. Many newer cars have automatic engine stop-start systems that do this.
  • When driving in town, adjust your speed to “time” the traffic lights. This reduces repeated braking and acceleration that consume additional fuel.
  • When approaching a red light or stop sign, take your foot off the gas early and allow your car to coast down to a slower speed until it is time to brake.
  • Accelerate smoothly with light to moderate throttle. This allows the automatic transmission to upshift into higher gears sooner, reducing engine rpm and saving fuel.
  • Use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because a loss of vehicle control could result.
  • If your car has a manual transmission, upshift as soon as you can without “lugging” the engine. When practical, you can also save fuel by skip-shifting – for example, going directly from first gear to third.

Don’t be Fueled into Wasting Gas

  • The practices above will definitely help improve fuel economy. Also keep these more general fuel saving tips in mind:
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible travel outside high-traffic times of day.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.
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