2010-04-09 / Front Page

Motorists can expect to pay more for gas in 2010 than they did last year

By JOE L. HUGHES II Ledger Staff Writer joe@gaffneyledger.com

As if the cost of living was not already high enough, it seems a recent jump in gas prices is a trend likely to continue.

With motorists paying an average of 75 cents more per gallon than this time last year, AAA Carolinas expects Palmetto State motorists to have to dole out more cash than they likely desired or anticipated.

“Recent national economics news has been positive, but that likely means we’ll pay more for gas this year than last,” said AAA Carolinas President and CEO David Parsons in a prepared statement.

The Charlotte-based automobile club recently did its annual driving cost analysis, meant to inform motorists of operating expenses and real costs of operating a vehicle. Among the information used to determine these calculations include operations costs like fuel, maintenance and tires, and expenses that accompany owning a motor vehicle, including insurance, license, registration, taxes, depreciation and financing based on driving 15,000 miles a year.

Fuel costs were based on $2.67 per gallon as reported to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. Gas prices locally have stayed around the $2.60 mark for much of the past week.

AAA Carolinas compared the cost of five separate vehicle categories, small, medium and large sedans, in addition to SUVs and minivans.

According to the automobile club, the average sedan will cost $8,762 to drive based on current prices, $430 higher than last year’s average. However, the analysis found the annual cost to own and operate an SUV increased the most in the Palmetto State, rising to an average of $11,552, nearly $600 more than 2009.

Much of this increase is attributed to the rise in the price of unleaded gasoline, which jumped from $1.92 last April to its current average of $2.67. Though likely considered to be a bit high in the opinion of local motorists, it is still significantly lower than the price of gas this time in 2008, when the gas prices were seemingly moving toward the $4 mark.

“As bad as things are right now we have seen much worse, just look at a few years ago (2008),” said AAA Carolinas spokesman Tom Crosby.

South Carolina has the second-cheapest price for unleaded gasoline. Only New Jersey has a lower average price.

Annual driving cost calculations use standardized criteria designed to model the average use of a vehicle for personal transportation over five years and 75,000 miles of ownership, AAA Carolinas said in a prepared statement. Actual driving costs vary upon several different factors, including driving habits, location and operating costs.

Crosby said there are ways to help lower the cost of operating a vehicle, primarily by keeping a close eye on the price of gas while traveling.

“Keep an eye out for the lowest prices in the area,” Crosby said. “There is no longer a difference between the gas being pumped in cars now at off-brand service stations as those at your higher profile, well-known gas stations. Knowing these things could help out in the long run.

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