You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.
U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That’s the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578.
More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.
Kloza and other analysts expect prices to start dropping after Labor Day, so drivers shouldn’t have to worry about a return to the April high of $3.94 per gallon, barring a hurricane or other unforeseen event.
Retail gasoline prices have risen nearly 12 percent since July 1 because of higher oil prices, and problems with refineries and pipelines that created temporary supply shortages in some regions. An increase in the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, also contributed to the rise in pump prices.
The pace of the increases has slowed considerably, however. Gas costs about 26 cents more than a month ago and 14 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express.
Across the U.S., prices range from a low of $3.43 per gallon in South Carolina to $4.32 in Hawaii. Arizona, Mississippi and New Mexico also have average prices below $3.50 per gallon, while California and Illinois are up above the $4 mark.