Gas prices in Michigan: How the price at the pump has changed during the pandemic

·4 min read

Metro Detroit

$4.014

Michigan

$3.947

National

$3.943

Average price of unleaded, regular gasoline as of

Aug. 17 | SOURCE AAA

After a sharp climb in gas prices earlier in the spring and early summer, gas prices have been dropping for eight straight weeks, driven in part by a decline in demand and gas stations competing to lower their prices and attract consumers.

Prices rose earlier this year as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began at the end of February, and the subsequent ban on Russian imports of oil into the U.S. bottlenecked the global oil supply chain, further driving up costs at the pump.

While prices have returned to levels from March and April, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in Michigan remains well above prices from the beginning of the year.

High gas prices are likely pushing Michigan residents to cut back on travel plans while also fueling demand for fully electric vehicles and ride-share services. In response to the elevated costs, on July 1 the IRS increased its standard mileage rate, a cost-per-mile amount federal agencies and many companies use to reimburse employees for business related travel, by four cents.

The chart below displays the price of unleaded gasoline week-by-week over time, with three lines representing the average gas price in the U.S., Michigan, and metro Detroit. The chart contains data from just before COVID-19 cases surged in the nation in 2020. Hover over or click on the lines to see the average price of gas for a region at the start of a given week.

The map below displays current prices for gas in 10 metro areas in Michigan and provides prices from a week ago and a year ago for comparison. A darker shade of blue indicates a metro area has a higher current average price of gas. Hover over or click on a region to see the metro area's current and previous average prices of unleaded gasoline.

A number of factors cause variations in gasoline prices by region, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, including the distance to the supplier, disruptions that increase demand for gas, the added cost of environmental regulations, and competition between retail gas stations.

Getting the most from your gas tank

Small adjustments in how you drive your vehicle can maximize the fuel efficiency of your trips and reduce the amount you use per mile. Here are seven ways you can conserve gasoline on the road.

  • Before you start driving, keep your vehicle's maintenance updated: For the best fuel efficiency, you should maintain your car properly. Check the car's fluids on a regular basis: engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and fuel. Keep the tires properly inflated. If they are underinflated, they can degrade the vehicle's braking and handling and reduce your fuel economy.

  • Plan your trips beforehand: If you have errands to run, map out your route beforehand, to avoid backtracking. Try to accomplish as many errands on one trip. Listen to your local traffic reports and avoid road construction areas because they can add to your car’s fuel consumption.

  • Keep your car streamlined: Roof-mounted cargo holders – such as bike racks or roof storage boxes – can reduce your car’s fuel economy by 6% to 17%. Even having the car’s window open while driving at high speeds can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%.

  • Minimize your air conditioning use, if possible: Air conditioners reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy to more than 25% while driving in hot weather, and it’s even greater in hybrid and electric vehicles. It’s better to run the air conditioning in small increments. Only turning it on to ward off the hot temperatures. Running your AC can lower the fuel efficiency to approximately 3 mpg.

  • Avoid ‘lead-foot’ starts: Fast and sudden acceleration of a vehicle’s motor can lower your car’s fuel economy by 15% to 30%, according to U.S. Department of Energy. It also can wear out your car’s drive train sooner.

  • Avoid the slow idle: If you’re stopped for more than 60 seconds, shut off the engine to save fuel. Idling can waste up to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on your vehicle type. Restarting your car doesn’t burn more fuel. Idling your car for 10 seconds wastes more gasoline than restarting the engine.

  • Keeping a steady speed: After your car reaches 50 mph, it begins to lose fuel efficiency. Keep your speed at the posted speed limit. Using your cruise control can also help you stay at a consistent speed, which will help save you fuel in the long run. A study by Natural Resources Canada found that adjusting the cruise control speed between 47 to 53 mph every 18 seconds consumes 20% less fuel.

More: Gas prices in Michigan fall to nearly $4 a gallon, expected to keep dropping

More: IRS pushes standard mileage rate to 62.5 cents per mile for 6 months as gas prices soar

USA Today reporter Janet Loehrke contributed to this report.

Arjun Thakkar is a data reporter for the Detroit Free Press, in a position funded by the Dow Jones News Fund. Contact him at athakkar@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @_ArjunThakkar.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: High gas prices in Michigan: Tracking average cost, how to save