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Gas prices continue climb, analyst says $5 per gallon 'not if, but when'

The average cost for a gallon of unleaded is now $4.58, and analysts say hitting the $5 mark is more of 'when' than 'if.'

MINNEAPOLIS — In the opening line of his hit single "Spinning Wheel," Blood, Sweat and Tears bandleader and lead vocalist David Clayton Thomas sang "What goes up, must come down...."

He obviously wasn't referring to gas prices. 

In a budget-busting trend that shows no signs of subsiding, the cost of a gallon of unleaded has jumped 33.7 cents across the Twin Cities in the past week, according to fuel app GasBuddy. That pushes the average price to $4.58, some 53 cents higher than a month ago and a whopping $1.74 more than motorists were paying at this time last year. 

Gas Buddy calculates their numbers based on a weekly survey of 1,106 stations across the metro. The cheapest price reported Sunday was $4.27 per gallon while the most expensive was $4.94, proving that shopping can save you a good chunk of dough on a fill-up. 

“After a blistering week of gas prices jumping in nearly every town, city, state and area possible, more bad news is on the horizon," said GasBuddy lead petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan. "It now appears not if, but when, we'll hit that psychologically critical $5 national average. Gasoline inventories continue to decline even with demand softening due to high prices, a culmination of less refining capacity than we had prior to COVID and strong consumption, a situation that doesn't look to improve drastically anytime soon."

De Haan says nine states have average gas prices that exceed the $5 per gallon mark, with more set to join in the days and weeks ahead. He adds that consumers face another gut punch as diesel hits a record high, increasing shipping costs and pushing up the prices of other goods we buy. 

Motorists looking for relief won't find it in Wisconsin: GasBuddy says our neighbors to the east are getting hit even harder than Minnesotans, with an average price of $4.81 per gallon, largely due to state taxes. 

RELATED: How high will gas prices go this summer?

To maximize the mileage your vehicle gets, here are a few things you can do. 

  • Make sure tires are inflated to the proper pressure
  • Remove excess weight - it can make a difference. 
  • Slow down: Mileage improves markedly by dropping speeds 5 mph or more.
  • Get your vehicle tuned up and keep it maintained - The cost can be more than offset in fuel savings over the long run. 

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