By on March 23, 2020

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. GasBuddy.com 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]

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24 Comments on “All Fueled Up and Nowhere to Go...”


  • avatar

    Well nice for me. I fall under one of the have to keep working jobs (60 mile a day commute). I’m in CT and were under 2 bucks in most of the state. According to Gasbuddy some place in the state are at $1.75.

    I have some close relatives with Cabins in the woods and some fairly remote land, but I don’t think were there yet. Although I did hear a lot of NYers and Bostonians are opening there summer places in Maine early.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Interesting, in a macabre way, to see the oddball combination of falling demand for oil and rising production of oil. IDK where it will end. Soon we will see a similar imbalance of supply/demand in autos, but will the suspension of production lead to rising prices or will the lack of consumer money/jobs and the flushing of large numbers of rental cars into the system prevail to lower prices? My business has closed down and we don’t even drive to the store now (order on line and deliveries are left on the doorstep). Not much auto use in my neighborhood.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Do you know what that means? That means those from lock down area are now going to road trip to the rural America, and spread the COVID-19 there, very soon.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    It’s a good day to own my ’19 F350 Super Duty with the 6.2 gasser and 4.30 rear end. Makes 11 to 12 mpg a bit more livable.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I bought fuel for $1.59 yesterday! Loving it!

  • avatar
    NoID

    I’m working from home at least through the end of the month, so that’s 400 fewer miles driven per week. We had planned to break in our new (used) pop-up camper on a trip down south over spring break, but our state just jumped on the PanicWagon and locked down so that’s out.

    My budget is loving it, but it’s getting a little restless here.

  • avatar
    Olyar15

    Why do you need somewhere to go? I go out and just drive around in my ’17 NSX, which is a great car to just drive some nice back roads. Gotta make lemonade at times like this.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I’m just waiting for better weather and then I’ll insure my motorcycle. I can keep social distances rather easily on that thing and enjoy all of the empty roads.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I drive around aimlessly looking for toilet paper

    Hey, it’s all I got left ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Lie2me – I’ve driven through my downtown core where restaurants, bars, nightclubs are located on a Friday or Saturday night and was blown away by the emptiness of it all. The soup kitchens were busy as usual.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    #%&%##&*^&^$ snow yesterday!!

    Makes it impossible to get the Viper out.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      @Jack

      I’ve been running the CTS-V as often as I can. The nearly-free Premium is making me drive like a clot, though: my fuel savings will soon be eclipsed by a pair of new tires.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    As in the O P SoCal lags behind most of the country in lowering gasoline prices. This morning 3/23 I saw one station at $3.09 while most are still in the $3.30-3.60 range.
    With all the changes most of what I do is on hold so will not be buying fuel for at least a week. Maybe lower price by then.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I saw off brand Diesel fuel in Westmont to – day $3.15 .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    dal20402

    $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.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “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

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Is this a trick question?

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        No tricks. And we’re too late to save my old mailbox (new mailbox has shear plate/slip base with breakaway bolts [gently welded] though – no more digging for me).

        My gut says non-hollow-point 7.62 – but I have no good data.

        To EGSE, your choice of aimpoint – suggestions welcome. Bonus: Does EV aimpoint differ from ICE?

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          @Toolguy: “Does EV aimpoint differ from ICE?”

          HaHa! Maybe Elon can tell us.

          My thoughts were more…..do you disable the propulsion system? Or the “sensor, guidance and control” system? I’ll leave that for the eleven bravos to worry about.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      “do you reach for:”

      *raises hand….opens safe*

      Where exactly on the vehicle is the aimpoint? “Alex, I’ll take “green-tip” for 400 please.” But let’s table it for off-line :).

      You “made my day”…..

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      Standard mil issue AK-47 round is steel core. Would go straight through engine.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        maybe the outer wall of the engine block, but it ain’t going much farther.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        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

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