Even as prices at the pump fell slightly across the country this week, they remain at near-record highs. And if you listen to Joe Biden and company (and I really don’t advise that), you would think he’s completely powerless to stop U.S. gasoline prices from being so costly. Recently, Biden has blamed everyone and everything — from Vladimir Putin to climate change, to greedy oil companies, to gas station owners — for the pain at the pump, but in reality, none of those excuses are necessarily the cause of the soaring prices.
With little consequential relief in sight for American consumers, it makes sense to look at what exactly goes into the cost of a gallon of gasoline and what steps we can take to ease the pain at the pump as Americans head out on our beloved summer road trips. According to AAA, the price of a gallon of gasoline is made up of 40-60% crude oil costs, 15-25% refining costs, 15-25% federal and state taxes, and 10-15% distribution and marketing costs.
Perplexed at the Pump? What makes up the price of a gallon of Gas? Our AAA gas price experts are here to help you understand. pic.twitter.com/aNRhjo1boy
— AAA (@AAAnews) January 28, 2022
Did you catch that? There’s nothing in the price of a gallon of gas that supports Biden’s claims that it’s gas station owners who are gauging American consumers at the pump. Oil companies that refine the crude oil have no choice but to pay the exorbitant crude oil prices and thus pass on the higher costs to the distributors, who pass them on to the consumers. That 10-15% is where gas station owners’ profits lie, so Biden’s beef should be not with the hard-working small business owners of gas stations at all, but with the crude-oil-producing countries like his not-so-generous pals in Saudia Arabia.
We have to drive, so what’s the American consumer to do? AAA, GasBuddy, and The Penny Hoarder suggest saving money on gasoline in three key areas: shopping choices, driving habits, and vehicle maintenance.
- Use price-comparison apps such as GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas stations along your normal driving routes or when traveling.
- Pay with cash to avoid credit card fees or use a credit card with fuel rewards.
- Join grocery store and/or gas app fuel rewards programs and use them whenever possible.
- Check the owner’s manual for the recommended minimum octane gas for your vehicle and use it. Only use premium grade if your vehicle’s manufacturer requires it.
- Fill up early in the week as gas prices tend to be lowest on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Plan your routes to minimize driving time. Do errands close to home or work.
- Carpool with friends and co-workers with similar schedules. Share driving duties for school and extracurricular activities with other parents.
- Reduce idling time when leaving or waiting.
- Use cruise control on highways and only when reasonable and safe.
- Reduce the use of the A/C by using a sun shield or parking in the shade. Open windows whenever possible when driving below 30 mph.
- Slow down and follow the speed limit.
- Brake and accelerate smoothly. Whenever possible, coast to glide to a stop.
- Adjust your speed to time traffic lights to minimize wasteful acceleration and braking.
- Remove excess weight from your vehicle.
- Buy the most fuel-efficient model in your preferred vehicle class or drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle of those you already own.
- Stay up-to-date with your vehicle’s service recommendations. Don’t ignore the “Check Engine” light.
- Check your tire pressure often, especially before long road trips. Most mechanics will check tire pressure for free.
- Be sure your gas cap seals properly and replace it as needed.
- Remove racks and other roof cargo that create wind resistance, reducing gas mileage.
- Change your vehicle’s oil and use the correct grade of oil recommended for your vehicle.
Hopefully, these suggestions will ease some of the pain at the pump, but please, dear readers, enjoy your summer road trips even if they now have to be scaled back thanks to Bidenflation. Remember, this too shall pass and November is coming.