Motorists in most states are paying less at the pump as the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell by 3 cents nationally during the past week, ending a 12-week streak of weekly price increases. The national average for regular unleaded was $3.66 on Thursday, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. In its weekly assessment of price trends, AAA cautiously predicted that prices could continue to decline in the coming weeks. "Gasoline prices may have reached a springtime peak of $3.70 last week, though it is too early to know for certain," AAA said in a release.
Domestic crude oil inventories are building, AAA noted, as refineries resume full production after scheduled early spring maintenance and the switch to summer gas blends that was completed by May 1. That means production may now be outpacing demand for gas.
Prices eased by 7 cents in Missouri the past week to $3.36 — the lowest statewide average — and by 6 cents in Illinois to $3.82. Pump prices declined by smaller amounts in Arkansas, California, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and several other states.
Diesel fuel, which had held steady at $3.96 for three weeks, dropped a penny the past week.
Despite recent price declines, motorists in most states were still paying more than they were a month ago. The national average of $3.66 for regular unleaded Thursday was 7 cents higher than a month ago.
Western states have been hit particularly hard recently. California's average of $4.22 is 17 cents higher than a month ago, and the average in Nevada, Oregon and Washington state is 18 cents higher. Idaho motorists have seen prices surge 21 cents the past month to $3.59, and in Utah the average has jumped 26 cents to $3.58. Hawaii had the most expensive gas at $4.38, followed by California, Connecticut ($3.95), Alaska ($3.92) and New York ($3.91).
After Missouri, the states with the lowest prices were Arkansas and Oklahoma at $3.42, New Mexico at $3.44 and Texas at $3.45.
Compared with a year ago, the national average is 12 cents higher, but AAA said the current price is lower than in either 2011 or 2012. Prices peaked at $3.98 in 2011 and $3.94 in 2012, and AAA said this year's peak won't come close. The highest national average so far this year was $3.70 on April 28, below the 2013 high point of $3.79.
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears