Contrary to popular belief, the government has nothing to do with setting prices at the pump.
Gas prices are regulated by the international crude oil market which is way beyond the control of Washington (no matter how gas prices are used as a political football, especially during an election year.)
Truth be told, Americans are caught between increasingly scarce petroleum reserves and a woeful lack of alternative fuel sources. And that means having to finally come to grips with what most Europeans already know about oil imports. Gas (or petrol) ain't cheap.
Currently, prices at U.S. gas stations have been see-sawing from $3 to a record $5 + a gallon. So it's good to know where to find the cheapest gas prices in your neighborhood which, according to the experts, may vary by as much as 20% within a single zip code.
Meanwhile, for those lucky enough to live near the southern border, gas prices in Mexico are running about a dollar per-gallon cheaper of what it costs in the U.S.
You don't have to travel that far, of course, but it does pay to get out of your comfort zone.
How to save at the pump
• For example, instead of looking for gas in major metro areas -- fill 'er up in the suburbs. Also, stay away from major freeways where prices tend to be higher.
• A good collection of Internet resources can alert you to where to find the cheapest prices in town. Just be sure to check the Web or your favorite mobile app BEFORE you hit the road.
• Remember that a well-tuned car with its tires properly inflated gets better gas mileage. A clean air filter, for example, can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.
• Another good bet? -- find a carpool in your area to share the costs of fuel (and at the same time help reduce traffic and air pollution.)
Around the Web, check out more ideas and money saving tips on getting the best bang for your buck at the pump, along with guides offering the latest reviews and updates on where you can locate the best price of gas in the U.S.A. and worldwide ....
Where to find cheap gas by location online:
GasBuddy.com - Use the clickable map to find the cheapest gas prices by U.S. state or Canadian province, with quick looks at the top ten lowest gas prices by state or city. Also includes useful buying and fuel-saving tips.
GPW - Similar to the Mapquest interface, this one uses price data (supplied by members nationwide) appearing on local maps according to location.
Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update - "Official energy statistics" from the U.S. government offers the latest overview of retail gas and highway diesel prices by region, along with hotline phone numbers to call for the latest updates.
Gas Prices - More U.S. statistics on typical gas prices with a resource directory to more information by state.