How Much Did The Average American Household Spend On Gas This Year?

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Filling your tank in the average car these days often runs north of $50, and for full-size pickup trucks, it can be a multiple of that number.

But how much do you spend on gasoline a year? Do you actually know?

Sure, you can back-figure: Divide the mileage covered for the year by each of your vehicles by its average MPG, add all of those numbers together, then multiply the answer by, say, $3.50 (or whatever your average local gas price may be).

Turns out, though, that there's data on what the "average" U.S. household spends each year on gasoline.

According to the Oil Price Information Service, quoted in an Associated Press article, an average household will have spent more than $4,000 on gasoline by the time it toasts the New Year.

The actual number is $4,155, representing 8.4 percent of median household income--the highest percentage in almost three decades, since the 1981 fuel crisis.

That's sharply higher than the average over the last 10 years, which was 5.7 percent.

At current gas prices of roughly $3.50 per gallon, that would have been $1,300 less, enough to notice in any household budget.

One factor keeping it expensive is that new-car sales have fallen from the peaks of a few years ago, with U.S. residents still scrapping roughly as many cars as they buy.

The average car on U.S. roads is now more than 10 years old, the oldest it's been since domestic production halted in early 1942 at the onset of World War II. And older vehicles generally have lower gas-mileage ratings than newer ones.

That trend will continue under new standards to raise corporate average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 (though that translates to less than 50 mpg in the real world).

How much do you spend on gasoline? And, have you taken steps lately to use less fuel?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (3)
  1. $4000 per year, assuming two cars, seems about right. If you look at the EPA window stick of most vehicles, they typically say you will spend $2000/year on gasoline.

    In the case of the Prius, that number drops to about $1000/year, and the Nissan Leaf comes in at $600 (assuming you get cheap electricity).

    Adding to the misery, I also need 1000 gallons of diesel (home heating oil) for my home. Figure roughly another $4000 and you see why we need to "reinvent fire"

  2. Given that our home is fully solar PV equipped and we have a zero actual electricity use bill for all of 2011, the "running costs" of our Leaf and Volt came to a total of $385 for all of 2011. We spent $30 on a regular service for the Leaf, NONE for the Volt, and we had a total fuel cost on the Volt of $355 for the year (9700 miles total, averaging 116mpg overall). For the previous year, with the 2006 Prius and 2007 Camry Hybrids we WERE driving, we spent about $2900 in fuel and service.

  3. Bought a Leaf this summer and haven't bought any gas since. What an awesome car!

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