All Fueled Up and Nowhere to Go

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
all fueled up and nowhere to go

According to the signs standing proudly outside local gas stations, there’s almost never been a better time to hit the road. At the same time, there’s never been more reason to stay at home.

The bizarre tug-of-war between today’s shockingly low pump prices and the need to self-isolate seems tailor-made to frustrate drivers everywhere; it’s a situation that only benefits those with a cabin in the deep, dark woods in some remote corner of the continent, as well as whatever commercial fleets are still in operation. Your author envies those folks with cabins.

I’ve read online how to skin and quarter a squirrel, and I’m prepared to do it. That said, you probably didn’t come here for Appalachian crock pot recipes and .22 Long Rifle ballistics.

As the global oversupply of crude oil due to the coronavirus pandemic — as well as production jousting between Russia and Saudi Arabia — leads to a price crash, let’s take a look at the latest figures.

According to the American Automobile Association, today’s Lower 48 average pump price for regular unleaded stands at $2.129 a gallon, down from $2.140 on Sunday, $2.257 a week ago, and $2.474 a month ago. puts the national average somewhere around $2.07 for regular. Diesel has fallen to $2.667.

This marks the lowest average gas price since May of 2015, when pump prices were on the rise after falling as low as $1.70 a gallon in February of that year. A year earlier, in early winter 2014, prices flirted with the 2-dollar mark very briefly.

As it stands, 29 U.S. states boast an average pump price below the $2/gallon marker. California, no surprise, holds the lead for the priciest gas in the Lower 48, at an average of $3.201 a gallon. That’s down from $3.489 a month ago. On the other side of the coin, Oklahoma rang in the new week with an average of $1.715. That state joins Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the sub-$1.90 camp.

With the exception of the Northeastern states (minus Maine, currently poised to plunge below $2), most every state with borders starting east of the Continental Divide are either flirting with $2 or are already well below. And sadly, which each passing day comes further restrictions on travel and social interaction. Road trips are off the table from coast to coast.

How low will pump prices go? There’s room for further declines, what with gasoline futures sinking to 50 cents a gallon in Monday trading. That’s the lowest point since the current contract hit Wall Street in 2005, and, when factoring the previous contract, the lowest since markets were roiled by the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Both West Texas and Brent crude slipped again today, falling to $22.50 and $28.49 a barrel, respectively, at last check.

It’s enough to make one dream of big-displacement product and endless highways. For now, though, I’d settle for just a little less uncertainty.

[Image: CC7/Shutterstock]

Join the conversation
10 of 24 comments
  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Mar 24, 2020

    $3.59 here. West Coast fuel distribution strikes again. Although with all but essential trips banned we aren't going out much and we can drive the Bolt for whatever trips we do need to take.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 24, 2020

    "you probably didn’t come here for ... .22 Long Rifle ballistics" I do have an automotive-related ballistics question. If you wish to stop an approaching vehicle, do you reach for: • AR-15 with XM855 "Penetrator" • AK-47 with FMJ • AK-47 with HP • 12 gauge with 00 Buck

    • See 7 previous
    • -Nate -Nate on Mar 25, 2020

      @Sceptic It doesn't matter because the reality of trying to hit a moving target with a rifle is not the same as watching movies, one more fact few gun nutters (as opposed to Firearms enthusiasts) fail to grasp . Why do you think I.E.D.'s are more popular than rifles & machine guns in actual applications of this ? . I'm sure I'm not the only one who's seen what a 20MM round will do to a cast iron engine block or transmission ~ even the aluminum headed practice round go right through and shatter everything . -Nate

  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.
  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.