Stow’s Lily Parker was rocking as gas prices soared.
Its 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI takes diesel gas, which has been more expensive than regular and premium gasoline as drivers continue to contend with high fuel prices.
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Bought the used car two and a half years ago because the fuel mileage is good. She said they average about 33 miles per gallon.
“It usually takes about two weeks to go through (a tank), but when I bought it, the diesel was $2.99,” Parker said.
A gallon of diesel is now about $6, Parker said, noting that a gas station near her apartment was $5.59 a gallon on Tuesday.
Parker, 23, said she spends about $60 every two weeks on gas, which is double what she was paying.
She would train with her boss in training a few days a week so she wouldn’t have to use her car. Other days, she still needs her car for work and errands.
Parker will be a social work professional at the University of Akron in the fall and work in an administrative role at an area nursing home, as well as an internship with the Aged Care Service.
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Parker said she started shopping at Aldi for groceries to save money. But other than that, she and her husband haven’t cut other parts of their budget as they deal with rising gas prices.
“I have a little money to put into my savings account,” Parker said.
Parker’s husband, Joe, owns a premium petrol car, but he’s been using his motorcycle to save fuel.
Not all consumers have many vehicles to choose from, said Kevin Thomas, regional president, but choosing to use a vehicle with better fuel consumption during times of higher gas prices and thinking about mileage or a hybrid when shopping for a vehicle can be beneficial. The AAA Ohio Auto Club, which includes Akron and the area.
AAA reports that the average price of regular Akron gasoline is $4.59 per gallon, while the average price is $5.26 per gallon and diesel, $5.28.
Gas Buddy reports a range of $4.33 to $4.79 for diesel, $4.93 to $5.79 for premium and $5.05 to $5.59 for diesel.
Nationally, a gallon of regular gas averaged $4.67 on Wednesday, according to the AAA. The highest California average was at $6.19 per gallon.
What is the reason for the rise in gas prices?
Typically, Thomas said, there is a drop in gas prices after Memorial Day given the summer driving months.
He said, “The weekend has passed but now we have ongoing problems in Europe and what they are going to do to move away from Russian fuel. There is also a change in behaviors happening in China with the COVID restrictions loosening a bit, which leads to increased demand.”
Production is not rising to the level to keep up, he said, which will lead to higher prices.
Thomas said the AAA does not forecast fuel prices, but “with the international scene, it doesn’t look like there will be a quick answer to these higher prices, especially with increased demand for the driving season.”
People still hit the road
However, even with record gas prices, people still hit the road.
AAA estimates that nearly 35 million travelers traveled on roads for the Memorial Day holiday. This is the highest number since 2019.
“So far, the pent-up desire to travel due to the pandemic has outweighed the elevated pump prices for many consumers,” said Andrew Gross, a spokesperson for AAA. But 67% of the drivers we surveyed told us they would change their driving habits if gasoline hit $4.50 a gallon. That number rises to 75% at $5 a gallon. If pump prices keep going up, will people change their summer travel plans? That remained to be a viewer.”
In the Akron area, people are still planning to take their summer vacations and not cancel due to high gas prices, Thomas said.
“People are ready to travel,” Thomas said.
He said Akron-area numbers aren’t quite up to pre-pandemic levels, but they are rising.
“We are, in fact, pleased with the increase in most forms of travel,” he said. “There is a lot of pent-up demand to get out and go visit family and friends.”
Thomas said higher gasoline prices are also affecting prices for air travel, car rentals and hotels.
He said that traveling by car is still usually the cheapest mode of transportation. Thomas said travelers can make changes to other parts of their trip, such as dining options or hotels, to help with the budget.
Better times to fill in the blanks?
Are there better days of the week to fill in?
Thomas said that it is difficult to determine and that fluctuations in gas prices have more to do with crude oil prices. But he said there could also be price hikes when demand is higher, such as on weekends and holidays.
“You want to make sure you refuel before you hit the road so you don’t drive more on the side of the highway,” he said.
Loyalty and payment programs can help
Many gas stations have their own loyalty programs or incentives tied to a grocery store or app. Customers sometimes also have the option of EZ Pay or a payment method linked to a checking account instead of credit cards. These options usually help the gas retailer avoid credit card fees and the retailer may offer a cheaper rate to customers who sign up for this option, Thomas said.
He said consumers just need to know what they’re signing up for and how the program works.
There are also loyalty programs associated with a specific gas retailer. Thomas said the AAA program is connected to Shell gas stations across the country and delivers 5 cents a gallon.
“Shell only has two stations in the greater Akron area, but Shell has a lot of stations, especially if you’re traveling through Corridor 77,” he said.
Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lynn Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ For the latest stories and columns go to www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher