How Does Season and Day of the Week Affect Gas Prices?

For most commuters, fueling up the car once every week or so is a necessary evil. But, as you well know, that can be a better or worse evil depending on the price the gas is the day you fuel up. We’ve all seen gas prices fluctuate, so you’ve probably wondered what causes the prices to fall, and in effect, how you could time your fuel-ups to be get more bang for your buck. As it turns out, when it comes to gas prices, nothing is left to chance, and there are some ways you could be more prepared for the pump.

Fuel Up on the Weekend for Best Results

It would make sense that the middle of the week, when everyone has already fueled up for the week and isn’t yet ready for the weekend, would net the lowest gas prices. But that’s not the case, according to a study conducted by GasBuddy, a service that tracks gas prices across America. The study found that, in most states, the weekend was the best time to fuel up. It is worth noting that this doesn’t apply to every state and it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Perhaps the best thing for you to do is to make a note of gas prices in your area and see if you notice any trends.

Different Season, Different Blend

It’s true: gas prices depend upon the season, with summer prices typically being higher than winter prices. The EPA actually sets standards for gas blends depending on how smog they cause cars to output. In the summer, when there are more drivers on the road driving farther distances, many gas stations provide a summer blend that cuts this negative output, but at a cost to the consumer. However, that’s not the only way the warm weather brings up prices. Naturally, gas stations have an incentive to charge a little more when they know drivers will need their services. Memorial Day, a holiday known for long commutes and corresponding higher prices, is evidence of this.

The Biggest Factor: Supply and Demand

Despite any changes that the day-to-day or the month-to-month may bring, the fluctuations in prices due to these factors pales in comparison to the larger, worldwide effects. Were you paying attention during your high school economics class? No matter – here’s the real driving factor behind the rising and falling gas prices: supply and demand of crude oil. With America relying more on North American oil and cars becoming more and more fuel efficient, the falling gas prices of the past few years can be attributed by less demand on foreign oil production and oil in general.

The long and short of it is that, unfortunately, you’re always going to be at the mercy of the gas stations and the economic forces that influence their pricing. That said, there are ways you can save some money at the pump. Do all that you can to improve your car’s fuel efficiency by staying up-to-date on maintenance and making sure the tires are properly inflated. Also, try out smartphone apps–like GasBuddy–to find the cheapest gas prices in your area. You probably won’t see big savings right away, but you know what they say about a penny saved!

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