Ukraine. Penalties. The coronavirus. Memorial Day trip. Whatever the reasons, gas prices are rising at record highs in New Jersey and across the country.
But there are ways to save over the coming weeks and get the most out of your summer travel budget, according to finance experts and travel industry officials.
AAA figures show that the average New Jersey gas price was $ 4.49 a gallon on Wednesday, when crude oil prices dropped below $ 100 a barrel. The average cost of a gallon of gas in New Jersey was $ 4.08 a month ago, and $ 3.03 this time last year.
On Wednesday, the average gas price was $ 4.46 a gallon in Bergen County, $ 4.47 in Passaic County, $ 4.40 in Sussex County, $ 4.54 in Essex County and $ 4.51 in Morris County.
New Jersey gas prices hit their last major spike in September 2013 when they were $ 3.88 per gallon, according to data from GasBuddy.com. That’s a record high of $ 4.90 after adjusting for inflation.
Gas prices will continue to rise until the summer, as more travel fuels demand and raise costs, said Robert Sinclair, public relations manager for AAA Northeast.
While there’s a good chance gas won’t hit $ 5 a gallon “at this point,” there’s reason to believe that “this summer might not be good if you’re a motorist,” Patrick De Haan said. , head. in petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.com.
With the possibly expensive Memorial Day and summer travel season just a few weeks away, personal-finance publication WalletHub reported in a spring survey that 53% of Americans said they plan to spend less on gas this year than 2021, while 70% used the price of gas. as a key factor in making their travel plans.
Sinclair of AAA says that even though he expects a strong turnout for tourist mainstays like Jersey Shore and Disney World, many people are shortening their trips and scaling back some activity.
Why the increase now?
One reason for the rise is the shift from winter gas mixing to summer mixing, which is less harmful to the car in the summer months, according to Sinclair. They also make a little smog.
“Instead of just wasting all the same fuel, refineries have to make these different mixtures and that’s more complicated and difficult to refine,” Sinclair said.
Inflation figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that gasoline prices rose 42% between this April and last year, despite a 2.2% drop due to the remaining mix of winter stored.
Also raising the cost were Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recent European Union announcements of allowing Russian oil, speeches De Haan said were “pushing markets wild.” Russia, after all, accounts for 10% of world oil production. The EU has not reached an agreement on sanctions.
The worsening problem, according to Sinclair, is that exports are falling from China amid tight coronavirus locks this spring, while supply from Saudi Arabia to the United States is holding amid geopolitical tensions.
How can I save money on gas?
Apps like GasBuddy and Waze show the cheapest gas stations by ZIP code, according to NerdWallet personal finance author Kimberly Palmer.
“Protect your car by changing the oil once it’s done, properly inflating the wheels and taking any extra weight off your trunk that you don’t have to carry,” he said.
Tire pressure, Sinclair said, is important to watch because low tire pressure means the car’s engine has to work properly.
“Have you ever ridden a bicycle with low tire pressure? Remember that situation [where] you have to work hard as a bicycle engine to make it work, ”he said. Other factors such as speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour can cause your car to burn a lot of gas unnecessarily.
What is the government doing?
State leaders and elected officials have floated several proposals aimed at shifting the rising cost of gas from motorists and to the government.
A proposal by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D -Hudson, would give New Jersey residents tax rebates of $ 400 to $ 800 to cover gas costs – $ 400 per car with a cover of two cars per filer . That would cost $ 1.5 billion a year, more than $ 150 million to offer a holiday fare to NJ Transit, according to the law.
While a draft state plan Senator Ed Durr, R-Gloucester, creates a $ 250 rebate for filers earning up to $ 125,000, or double the rebate and income limit for joint filers.
“I think commuters should take a break,” Mukherji said, “because of the severe impact of inflation and rising gas prices.”
Other proposals call for a temporary suspension of the state or federal gas tax. While a similar move in Connecticut this March briefly lowered gas prices, these gains have since been erased.
State Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, introduced a bill in March that would lower the state’s gas tax from 42.4 cents to 14.5 in 60 days. The move stalled amid concerns over how the state’s transportation projects will be spent, as they are already being paid for by gas tax revenues.
The office of Gov. Phil Murphy says it will not comment on any proposals by the state Legislature, but he said in an appearance on News 12 New Jersey last month that there should be some form of relief in the state.
The US Democratic Reps. Donald Norcross and Mikie Sherrill said in press releases that they support gas tax holidays at the federal level.