Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

When Will Gas Prices Come Down and Why?

Consumers could get some relief at the pump later this year 

a closeup of a car dashboard empty gas indicator with a line graph superimposed that indicates oil price fluctuations
iStock / Getty Images

 

Gas prices keep setting new highs as the war in Ukraine rages on and demand for fuel continues unabated, begging the question of if and when will prices come down. ​

Nobody expects gas to return to the lows seen at the start of the pandemic, but there are some catalysts that could give consumers a little relief at the pump in the coming months. ​

member card

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

“It depends on a range of external circumstances, but I believe they will start softening or at least level off in June and July,” says Usha Haley, a professor of management at the Barton School of Business at Wichita State University. “I don’t know which month, as gas prices remain volatile.” ​

An end to the Ukraine war might do it 

There are several reasons why consumers across the country are paying so much to fill up their vehicles. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a current catalyst. So is a switch on the part of refiners to a costlier summer blend of gasoline, which has lower vapor pressure, helping to prevent the evaporation of gas in the summer sun.  Then there’s summer travel, which typically kicks off with Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. According to AAA, 80 percent to 90 percent of summer trips are made via motor vehicles. Such demand also drives prices higher. As of today a gallon of regular gas is at $4.76, setting an all-new record high, according to AAA. Some gas experts expect gas to soar above $5 per gallon before coming back down.

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

But when it comes to what will make gas cheaper, there are several factors that play a role. A big one that is out of consumers’ control is the war in Ukraine. Already three months in, this has been a major reason why gas is so expensive. Russia isn’t a large supplier of crude oil to the U.S., but it is to Europe. The fact that Europe is shunning oil from Russia and seeking it elsewhere is pressuring supply. If the war ended, oil prices — and thus what we pay at the pump — would decline. “There’s no question if we woke up one morning and Putin was not in charge anymore, prices would drop precipitously,” says Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at OPIS. “That has been a catalyst taking prices horribly higher in the last 90 days or so.”

See more Entertainment offers >

Summer travel lull 

Absent an end to the war in Ukraine, consumers can look to the end of the summer for potential relief. That’s when fewer road trips occur, which puts downward pressure on demand. It’s also when refiners switch back to the cheaper blend of gasoline. ​

As it stands, this summer could set near records for road travel despite high gasoline prices. According to AAA, over 39 million people were wer expected to hit the road during the Memorial Day weekend, traveling 50 miles or more from home. That’s 3 million more than 2021, or an 8.3 percent increase. It’s also the second-highest growth in travelers for Memorial Day weekend since 2010. “Right now it seems that overwhelmingly people want to make up for lost time and get out there and take trips, be it flying or driving,” says David Gulley, a professor of economics at Bentley University. “When demand for travel is high, high gas prices don’t do much to curb people driving.” But those trips tend to end in August when schools are back in session. As demand for gas declines, so should the price at the pump. ​

The one big caveat: hurricane season. “I’m worried about August,” says Kloza. “Hurricane predictions came out, and it’s expected to be a very active storm season, much more active than normal.” If one of those storms knocks a refinery out of commission, even for a few days, gas prices will likely soar again, he says. ​

Another reason gasoline prices may fall in the next few months is the White House. In April the Biden administration announced it would release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, putting more than 1 million barrels per day on the market over the next six months. A lot of the releases, which will bring more supply online, are coming through the summer, which should also temper gas prices, says Kloza. ​

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Futures prices signal a decline 

Commodity traders, investors and economists tend to look at how oil futures are trading to get a sense of when consumers will get relief at the pump. Based on that, Gulley says oil, which is currently hovering at more than $105 a barrel, is projected to come down to around $85 by the end of 2022. “If that comes to fruition, that would put downward pricing pressure,” on gasoline, says Gulley. 

4 Tips to Help You Save at the Pump
membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.