Why the arrival of spring could mean higher gas prices

Experts say gas prices normally go up this time of year as Americans are using more fuel to travel for spring break and summer travel season looms.

“We typically see prices tend to triple up anywhere by as much as 10 to 15 cents,” said Ragina Ali, AAA manager of public and government affairs

She said higher crude oil prices and a switch to more expensive summer blends are causing uncertainty in the market.

“With the warmer weather, more people are out and about. That’s higher demand at the pumps, which usually means higher prices,” Ali said.

Gas prices this spring are higher than they were a year ago, according to AAA. Nationally, the current price of $3.48 is 4 cents higher than on this day in 2023.

In D.C., the current average of $3.62 is up 11 cents from last week, up 20 cents from last month and 12 cents from last year.

In Maryland, the average Tuesday of $3.51 is up 19 cents from last week, up 13 cents from last month and 21 cents from last year.

In Virginia, the average is $3.37, up 14 cents from last week, last month and last year.

Gas prices were lower at the beginning of 2024, but jumped up dramatically in early February, as a BP refinery in Indiana went offline due to power issues. The facility normally processes 430,000 barrels of crude oil every day.

While traveling by car is an inexpensive and convenient way to get away, Ali said you can save even more.

“You want to check your tires, check your hoses, your batteries. All of those things can not only contribute to wear and tear on your vehicle but can also impact your fuel economy.”

Some other things to check before you roll out for spring break:

  • Check the wiper blades. Windshield wipers take a beating during the winter, clearing away dirt, debris and salt spray. Make sure the blades are making full contact with the windshield and have not dried out.
  • Change oil and filter. Keep to the manufacturers’ recommendation and change your oil and filter in accordance with the vehicle owner’s manual. Usually, every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
  • Change the air filter. Your car’s air filter prevents dust and other debris from getting into the engine’s running parts, meaning less efficient use of gas and weaker engine performance.
  • Clean the interior. Residual salt and sand that was brought into the interior of the vehicle can damage floor mats and carpet. Use a hand vacuum to remove dirt and debris from the floor and seats of your vehicle.

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Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones is an Anchor/Reporter for WTOP. She’s been in the news industry for more than two decades.

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