Gas prices spike 23 cents in Iowa as vacation season rolls on

Vehicle maintenance, trip planning can help you save money on your road trip
Demand for gas usually drops as it gets cooler out.
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa - You may have noticed gas prices are a little higher. In fact, gas is nearly a quarter per gallon more expensive this week in Iowa than last, according to AAA. Relief may not be coming until the fall, according to an economist at Iowa State.

Brian Ortner, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA of Iowa and Nebraska, says the cost of a gallon of gas has spiked across the Midwest. In Iowa, the average cost per gallon is $3.61. “We’re 23 cents higher per gallon on average across the state and that’s very similar to what we’re seeing in our neighboring states,” Ortner said.

In neighboring states like Nebraska and Missouri, gas is up 18 cents a gallon. The sticker shock at the pump is most felt in Illinois, where the average gallon costs just under $4.00. Diesel is about 22 cents higher in the Hawkeye state.

Peter Orazem, an economics professor at Iowa State University, says the price increased because demand spikes in the summer as people take vacations, as well as the strength of the dollar.

“Another factor is that the dollar has been slipping in strength a little bit and oil prices worldwide are denominated in dollars, so as the dollar weakens, the price of gasoline is going to start to rise,” Orazem said.

Orazem says these price hikes won’t last forever. Demand for gas usually drops as it gets cooler out.

“We’re still not where we were even a year ago, and so you could see some additional increases particularly through August if gasoline demand continues to increase and as people are continuing to go on vacations,” Orazem said.

Ortner says if you’re planning to get a road trip in before the summer ends, there are some ways to save.

“If you want to save a few dollars here and there, you still have a summer road trip plan, pack snacks and water with you instead of you know, buying the incidentals when you fuel up at the gas station. Save those dollars, bring it with you,” Ortner said.

Ortner says one of the best and easiest ways to save on the cost of gas is to make sure you do routine maintenance.

“Proper air pressure in your tires affects, you know, fuel efficiency, and if your tires aren’t balanced or aired correctly, It does have an impact on your fuel efficiency when you’re driving,” Ortner said.

Another thing Ortner says to look out for is car batteries. They have to work just as hard in the summer months as they do in the winter months.

When planning road trips, Ortner said AAA has a free app that can help you find cheap places to fill up along your route. You don’t need to be a AAA member to use it.