How to Deal With Higher Prices at the Pumps

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Ontarians are continuing to feel the impact at the gas pumps as U.S. refineries deal with the damage from hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Harvey.

The gas market was hit hard in the wake of tropical storm Harvey, which made landfall in Texas last week as a Category 4 hurricane and knocked out nearly one quarter of U.S. refining capacity. Even as the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, flooding in Texas sent gas prices soaring.

Motiva Enterprises has told customers to prepare for fuel shortages as its 603,000 bpd (barrels-per-day) refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest in the U.S., remains offline after being damaged in the storm and subsequent flooding.

Yet there are signs of recovery. Some major refineries began reopening on the Labour Day long weekend. Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy Corp. have started pumping more barrels back into circulation.

In a tweet Sunday night, Financial Times Energy Market Editor David Sheppard said "U.S. gasoline [is] down 2.5 [per cent] in early trading as more Gulf Coast refiners say they're preparing to come back."

However, Toronto's gas prices are still surging. As of just before 1 p.m. Monday, GasBuddy.com reports prices at 129.4 cents per litre, up 19.2 cents per litre from last week's average, as we reach the end of the summer's last long weekend. The provincial average stands at 127 cents per litre.

Toronto's drivers saw some slight relief with a two-cent decline on Sunday, but the price has hit a three-year high for Torontonians after rising since August 25, when Harvey made landfall.

GasBuddy, a Boston-based tech company, operates apps and website with more than 30 million users to help consumers track gas prices across North America.

The website and app have several tips for anyone buying gas:

As of 1 p.m. on Monday, GasBuddy lists the top 10 lowest gas prices in Mississauga at between 120.9 and 126.7 cents per litre.

To help budget your drives, the website has a trip cost calculator, a gas price map and a tracker to keep you up to date on prices nearest to you. It's also a good idea to know how much gas your vehicle burns per kilometer.

For these tools and more information, go to gasbuddy.com to download the free app and follow Dan McTeague @GasBuddyDan on Twitter.

While we wait for the storm surge in gas prices to pass, AAA, a non-profit organization of motor clubs with more than 55 million members in the U.S. and Canada, has several tips for improving your gas mileage.


Here are a few:

Plan Your Trip:

This will help you do several things: accelerate gradually, anticipate your stops, driver during cooler parts of the day during summer, maintain recommended tire pressure, and keep the air filter clean.

Drive at the Speed Limit:

It's not only safer but more fuel-efficient. As one example:

"If you travel at 60 mph instead of 70 mph [97 kilometers per hour instead of 113], on your 20-mile highway commute, you would save about 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day work week."

Adjust Your Lifestyle:

Hike, bike, use public transit, or carpool. Be careful of packing too much in the trunk, though: the heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.

Drive during cooler parts of the day in the summer. Cooler, denser air can boost power and mileage.

Maintain Your Car:

Keep your tire pressure at its recommended level and keep the air filter clean. This will help your car move more smoothly at any speed.

Don't run on fumes. If your vehicle has a fuel injection, keep the tank at least one-quarter full. Cornering with a nearly empty tank disrupts the flow to the fuel pump.

There's still a rough road ahead with no immediate sign of a return to pre-storm prices.

Remember these tips and tools, and you'll be better equipped for your daily drive.

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