California prices tend to be higher than the national average, and the same is true in Merced County. The cheapest gas in Merced on Monday was $2.39 a gallon at a couple of Arco locations and at Costco.
Putting enough gas into his full-size truck to get him to Costco on Monday was Gabriel Garcia, 25, of Merced.
“It’s nice when they’re low, but they always seem to go back up,” he said.
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Garcia said he commutes to Atwater for work, so he does some extra planning with his budget when the prices spike.
Gas prices typically rise during the summer, when increased travel drives up demand and gas becomes more expensive to refine. This week’s prices – the highest of the year so far – are likely to get higher through Memorial Day, according to GasBuddy.
$2.22National average for a gallon of gas
Tom Cooke was pumping about 10 gallons into his truck at the Valero on G Street on Monday. He said he doesn’t pay much attention to the ups and downs in gas prices.
“It’s just the cost of living,” the 69-year-old said. “What can you do?”
Cooke, who lives in Mariposa, said he typically buys gas when he can in Merced, because the foothill prices tend to be higher.
A number of the larger petroleum companies, such as Chevron, 76 and Shell, had prices Monday in the Merced area at or higher than the statewide average of $2.80.
Richard Huerta, 44, of Merced said he typically gets his gas at a Merced Arco, but the lines were too long Monday. Instead, he went for the $2.59 at Valero, where he didn’t have to wait. He said he shares the car with his mother.
Even though they use a compact car, it’s running all day.
“It’s a constant, nonstop,” he said. “She’s moving all day long.”
It’s just the cost of living. What can you do?
Tom Cooke, 69, of Mariposa
He said the never-ending commute can take a toll on the bank account.
Drivers in California pay more partly because of stiffer fuel-blend standards to meet the state’s air-quality rules, according to experts.
With Memorial Day around the corner, Joanna Salas of Merced said, she plans to save some extra scratch, because prices are rising.
“We want to travel and stuff,” the 19-year-old said.
Those living in cities might feel a bigger pinch: Metropolitan areas saw an average increase of 13 cents, and Floridians might be hit worst of all. That state saw an average jump of 13.8 cents per gallon and those living in Orlando and Tampa saw 19- to 21-cent hikes this week.
Several apps and websites can tell you how much gas costs at your local stations before you pay. The GasGuru phone app pulls prices from the Oil Price Information Service, and finding cheaper gas is also a function built into some navigation apps such as Waze, which crowdsources directions and driving advice, and MapQuest.
McClatchy reporter Elizabeth Koh contributed to this story.