SALT LAKE CITY — As the national average hangs around $4 for a gallon of fuel, drivers are trying to find ways to cut back.
Utah resident Joel Sanders said while traveling to Laguna, Calif., last week, gas was already $4.60 per gallon. While prices aren’t quite that bad in Utah, $3.70 on average for a regular gallon of gas as of Sunday, Sanders has four vehicles to keep running at her home, and she says it’s starting to get tough.
Prices in Utah are up 20 cents since April 1, 2011, according to AAA. Some consumers are worried about just how close to $5 per gallon it will get before it gets better.
Nancy White, a spokeswoman for AAA, said that she won’t speculate as to how high gas prices will get but said it is likely that it will get worse as summer nears. She did say, however, that the country has never seen a national average at $5 per gallon.
“Something globally catastrophic would have to happen (for prices to hit $5),” she said. “There is a lot of concern about what’s going to happen to the global supply. China has seen a significant increase in demand. So has India.”
White said refinery closures on the East Coast have also contributed to higher gas prices. She said prices on the East Coast will get higher as they transition from winter to summer fuels, a transition that has already occurred in the Western states.
AAA reports that many consumers are combining trips and errands to offset high gas prices. Some consumers are biking to work, and 16 percent of those surveyed said they bought or leased a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Utah resident Nadia Crawford said she and her husband are now walking instead of driving, except when her husband has to take the car to go to class.
But walking and cycling may not be option for everyone. White said many of the tricks for saving on fuel have been heard before, but are still worth repeating, such as cleaning out your vehicle and avoiding jackrabbit starts and stops. AAA also offers a free app that shows consumers where the nearest gas station is that has the cheapest fuel.
Brett Jessop, a mechanic for RoadRunner Muffler & Auto Repair in La Verkin, said there is more consumers can do to their current vehicles to get more miles per gallon.
Jessop suggested buying high-octane fuel.
“Although it costs more, the car will get more miles per gallon with high-quality fuel,” he said.
Jessop also suggested adding a high-quality fuel additive every other fill-up, saying it does make a difference.
Keeping up on ignition and tune-up maintenance, as well as air and fuel filters, will also boost the miles per gallon. He said low tire pressure can also drag down mileage and suggested keeping tire pressure up.
Lastly, Jessop agreed that many consumers should clean out their cars.
“Extra weight can lower mileage per gallon,” he said.