Transportation

What prices will we face at the pump when we hit the road for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving travelers watching recent pump prices may wonder: Is this the year cheap gas will come just in time for that yearly drive to Grandma’s?

An interesting pair of trends are at work: Prices at the pump have dropped nationwide, steadily, for at least a month; but even so, projected gas prices will be the highest they’ve been for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2014, an analysis by consumer website GasBuddy found.

At the same time, GasBuddy says price declines have hit all 50 states and may accelerate heading into Thursday. In other words, prices may go even lower than they’ve been trending in the past month or so, so the four-year high may not seem too bad to drivers who are watching those numbers plunge.

Gasbuddy’s annual holiday travel survey predicted a 15 percent decrease in road travelers for Thanksgiving this year compared to 2017, but in a news release Monday, the company said it expected some “last minute mind-changing” among drivers between now and Wednesday as prices continue to plummet.

Relief would be welcome in Sacramento; the region ranks 25th in most expensive gas prices among 455 tracked by GasBuddy.

Fuel prices have fallen notably in the area, though. Measured at $3.52 per gallon Monday afternoon, unleaded gas fell 7.3 cents in the four-county Sacramento region this week compared to last, and 19.3 cents compared to last month’s average. The latter is better than the statewide decline of 17 cents across California on average.

The national average is currently $2.64 per gallon.

Another state-by-state survey by GasBuddy found that gas prices are typically cheapest on Tuesdays and most expensive on Fridays in California – so maybe consider filling up a day or two early if possible.

As far as where you should fill up? The two cheapest pumps in the Sacramento area are at Costco locations (provided you’re a member, of course), and four of the 10 cheapest are Arco stations, as shown by a user-based tool on the GasBuddy website that uses real-time data.

AAA and many automotive research companies recommend a few fuel-saving methods.

  • Drive slowly and safely. Aggressive driving and speeding can decrease fuel efficiency, studies have shown.
  • Carpool if you can. Hitching rides with friends or family, or using public transportation when feasible, will cut total fuel costs for all involved.
  • Don’t overload your car; more weight equals more fuel required to haul it.
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