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Gas prices soaring again

Pump prices for gasoline -- which fell through the summer months -- have risen dramatically since Labor Day and have broken through the $2-a-gallon ceiling once again. The average price of self-serve regular unleaded last week was pegged at $2.035 by the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, up 4.2 cents from the week prior and up 19 cents since Sept. 13. This week's price hike, the fifth consecutive week of increases, has brought the price of a gallon of regular unleaded to within 3 cents of the record high $2.064 on May 24.

Nationwide, the latest round of increases drove the price of gasoline 46.4 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

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Figures from the EIA show pump prices for the week ending October 18 rose to $2.035 for regular gas; $2.133 for midgrade; and $2.222 for premium. The average of all grades was put at $2.077.

The average 4.2-cent hike was sparked by a 5.4-cent jump on the West Coast and a 5.3-cent boost across New England. Motorists in the Central Atlantic states saw pump prices move up 4.7 cents; 4.3 cents along the East Coast; 4.2 cents in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states; 3.7 cents in the Lower Atlantic states and a predictably low 2.8 cents in the Gulf Coast states, including Texas.

When compared to the average gas prices of Sept. 13, the West Coast has seen prices spike up 27 cents a gallon. The Midwest pump prices are up 18.7 cents during the same period and the Lower Atlantic 17.5 cents. The lowest increase over that five-week period was in the Rocky Mountain States where prices bumped up just 11.5 cents. The largest increase, geographically, was in the Los Angeles market where prices have shot up 38.7 cents a gallon in the past five weeks, bringing prices at the pump to more than $2.44.

U.S. regular-grade gas prices
 
October 11
October 18
Change from
last week
Change from
last year
National
$1.993
$2.035
-$.042
+$.464
East Coast
$1.965
$2.008
-$.043
+$.443
Midwest
$1.948
$1.990
-$.042
+$.429
West Coast
$2.241
$2.295
-$.054
+$.565
Source: Weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration

To find the lowest prices in your area, try GasPriceWatch or GasBuddy.

Want to burn as little of that high-priced gasoline as you can? Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your vehicle is in proper running condition. It is most fuel-efficient when it is running correctly.

  • Check the owner's manual and make sure you are using gasoline with the proper octane level. Premium-grade gasoline won't make your car run any better unless the motor was built to burn premium -- and that's only about 18 percent of all vehicle engines.

  • Combining errands into a single trip and using the family's most fuel-efficient car when doing extensive driving can also help.

  • When the time comes to replace your car, consider buying something smaller and more fuel-efficient, or take a look at cars that use another source of fuel altogether.

 

 
-- Updated: Oct. 19, 2004
     

 

 
 
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