Myths, urban legends, old wives’ fables, and tall tales about the cost of gas are circulating with mad abandon. They range from the sublime to the ridiculous and from conspiracy theories to rumors of price gouging. They fly around in the ether and they run amok on the Internet and at the water cooler. "If there’s somethin’ strange, in your neighborhood...Who ya gonna call?" Gas Mythbusters, that’s who. All the histrionics, hysterics, hype, and all things hyperbolic can be downright confusing, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic.
"The run-up in gas prices in 2012 is no exception, and consumers are desperate, they will try anything and do anything to try to save money, including falling for the latest rumors and myths," said Christine Delise, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Public and Government Affairs spokeswoman. "They range from 'it is more fuel-efficient to turn off the car's air conditioner (false),' to ' buying gasoline in the morning, when the air is cool, rather than in the heat of the day' will save you more (false), to keeping your tires properly inflated will enhance your fuel economy (true, by up to 3.3 percent )."
Whether you believe "drilling more domestically is the fastest way to lower prices at the pump," or "tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the best means of reducing gas prices," always weigh the claim with a skeptic’s critical eye.
As always, motorists should strive to separate fact from fiction. For the benefit of motorists, AAA Mid-Atlantic is rounding up the usual suspects and debunking them.
Gas prices will hit $5 a gallon this summer. False - unless Israel and the United States strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and then that's the doomsday scenario. The saber-rattling aside, this is the proverbial Chicken Little "the-sky-is- falling," psychological effect. Although pump prices have already spiked above four dollars in some retail markets in California, and along the west and east coasts, most American consumers will not pay nearly that much for gas this spring and summer. AAA and OPIS gas guru, Tom Kloza, continue to believe U.S. gasoline gas prices will average $3.75-$4.25 per gallon this spring.
On the other hand, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) now expects nationally the "monthly average regular-grade gasoline retail price to peak in May at $3.96 per gallon, 32 cents per gallon higher than forecast in last month's Short-Term Energy Outlook and 6 cents per gallon higher than May 2011." If this holds true, prices will fall like the leaves of autumn - between 75 cents and a dollar per gallon - between the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
Gas station owners and operators are making a killing at the gas pump. False. Whenever gas prices soar, some consumers vent their anger at the neighborhood filling station operator. Average Joe Gas Station Owner makes more money selling snacks, sandwiches, and soda pop than he does selling a gallon of gas. As one service station manager recently told a reporter, "Where we used to make 14 or 15 cents, some of us are down to four or five cents a gallon right now."
Well, is that true? The markup on motor fuel sales averaged 18.5 cents per gallon in 2011. However, profit margins in 2011 typically were three to five cents per gallon (average breakeven on fuel sales is around 14 cents), explains the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). "Retailer profit margins over the past five years have averaged 15.4 cents per gallon" for the industry, which sells the bulk of gas in the USA.
Cash Versus Credit? You really don't save that much if you pay cash for your gas. False. You don't have to be incredibly wealthy to realize that some stations are offering a five to ten cents per gallon discount if you pay by cash. To outwit their competitors and to win more customers, more gas stations are now displaying two price signs in plain sight one for cash purchases and another for credit card/debit card transactions. But do you really save? Well, they are offering cash discounts at the pump to avoid passing on expensive credit card/debit card "swipe fees" to their customers. Last year, debit/credit cards fees averaged 4.7 cents per gallon at gas stations and convenience stores. It gives a new meaning to "cash and carry."
OPEC has the United States over a barrel, of oil, that is. False. While Saudi Arabia is the second largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, nearly half - 49 percent - of U.S. crude oil and petroleum products imports came from the Western Hemisphere, primarily Canada (number one), Mexico (number three), Venezuela (number four), rounding out fifth place was Nigeria, and then Columbia. That was the case in 2010 and in September of 2011, according to the EIA. Even so, only about "18% of our imports of crude oil and petroleum products come from the Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates," the agency explains.
Old habits die hard, but I can save gas money if I change the way I drive. True. One of the easiest and most effective ways to conserve fuel is to change driving styles. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, gently accelerate rather than making a quick start. The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can lower a car’s fuel economy by up to 33 percent.