Esso Station, Circa 1955
FPG/Getty Images

The Cost of Gas the Year You Were Born

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Esso Station, Circa 1955
FPG/Getty Images

Guzzling Gas

The sticker price tells the tale when buying a car, but the variables are more numerous and far less predictable when budgeting for the costs of ownership — including the price of gas. Using data from the U.S. Department of Energy, Cheapism determined the average cost of a gallon of gas every year from 1940 through today, also showing the price in 2022 dollars. (Prices are for regular leaded through 1990, then for regular unleaded.) Despite constant ups and downs, significant swings in gas prices are relatively rare, which makes recent record-breaking prices all the more painful — gas prices have now surged another 25 cents in just a week, putting 10 states above $5 a gallon. The adjusted cost breaks the $4 barrier just six times before this year, staying around $2 for the vast majority of years. Perhaps most surprisingly, major price fluctuations don’t always occur during times of upheaval and crisis.


Related:
How Gas Stations Have Totally Transformed Over the Past Century

1940 gas station
Etsy
1941 gas station
Etsy
1942 gas station
eBay
1943 gas station
eBay
1944 gas station advertisement
eBay

1944

  • Price per gallon: $0.21 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.35
1945 gas station advertisement
eBay

1945

  • Price per gallon: $0.21 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.26
1946 gas station advertisement
eBay

1946

  • Price per gallon: $0.21 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.16
1947 gas station
eBay

1947

  • Price per gallon: $0.23 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.94
1948 gas station
eBay

1948

  • Price per gallon: $0.26 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.03
1949 gas station advertisement
eBay

1949

  • Price per gallon: $0.27 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.18
1950 gas station
Etsy
1951 gas station
eBay

1951

  • Price per gallon: $0.27 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.93
1952 gas station
eBay

1952

  • Price per gallon: $0.27 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.86
1953 gas station
Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Michael Ochs Archives

1953

  • Price per gallon: $0.29 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.04
1954 gas station
eBay

1954

  • Price per gallon: $0.29 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.03
Esso Station, Circa 1955
FPG/Getty Images

1955

  • Price per gallon: $0.29 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.05
1956 gas station
eBay
1957 gas station
eBay

1957

  • Price per gallon: $0.31 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.10
1958 gas station
eBay

1958

  • Price per gallon: $0.30 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.92
1959 Chevron Supreme Gas Station Service Station Color Vintage Print Ad
eBay

1959

  • Price per gallon: $0.31 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3
PHILLIPS 66 Gas Station
eBay

1960

  • Price per gallon: $0.31 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.94
1961 Gas Station
eBay

1961

  • Price per gallon: $0.31 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.92
1962 Gas Station
eBay
1963 Gas Station
eBay

1963

  • Price per gallon: $0.30 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.76
1964 Gas Station
eBay

1964

  • Price per gallon: $0.30 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.72
1965 Gas Station
eBay
1966 Gas Station
eBay

1966

  • Price per gallon: $0.32 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.78
1967 Gas Station
eBay

1967

  • Price per gallon: $0.33 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.79
1968 Gas Station
eBay
1969 Gas Station
eBay

1969

  • Price per gallon: $0.35 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.69
1970 Gas Station
eBay

1970

  • Price per gallon: $0.36 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.61
1971 Gas Station
eBay
1972 Gas Station
eBay

1972

  • Price per gallon: $0.36 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.43
1973 Gas Station
Wikimedia Commons

1973

  • Price per gallon: $0.39 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.48
1974 Mobil Gas Station
1974 Mobil Gas Station by Chuck Patch (CC BY-NC)
1975 gas station
Archive Photos/Stringer

1975

  • Price per gallon: $0.57 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.99
1976 Gas Station
Harold M. Lambert / Contributor / Archive Photos

1976

  • Price per gallon: $0.59 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.92
1977 Gas Station
eBay

1977

  • Price per gallon: $0.62 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.87
1978 Gas Station
eBay

1978

  • Price per gallon: $0.63 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.69
1979 gas station
Frederic Lewis/Staff/Archive Photos

1979

  • Price per gallon: $0.86 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.34
1980 Gas Station
eBay

1980

  • Price per gallon: $1.19 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $4.05
1981 New York City High Gas Prices at Amoco Station
eBay

1981

  • Price per gallon: $1.31 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $4.07
1982 Gas Prices
eBay

1982

  • Price per gallon: $1.22 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.54
1983 Gas Prices
eBay

1983

  • Price per gallon: $1.16 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.38
1984 Gas Prices
eBay

1984

  • Price per gallon: $1.13 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.06
1985 Gas Station
1985 Gas Station by Champaign Co History Museum Follow (CC BY-NC)

1985

  • Price per gallon: $1.12 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.93
1986 Gas Prices
eBay

1986

  • Price per gallon: $0.86 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.21
gas station, long island, 1987
gas station, long island, 1987 by Franz Jachim (CC BY-NC-ND)

1987

  • Price per gallon: $0.90 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.23
1988 Gas Prices
eBay
1989 Gas Prices
eBay

1989

  • Price per gallon: $1.00 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.27
1990 Gas Prices
eBay
Pioneer gas station, Yonge Street and Millwood Road
Pioneer gas station, Yonge Street and Millwood Road by Toronto History (CC BY)

1991

  • Price per gallon: $1.14 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.36
50th Anniversary
50th Anniversary by Sean Benham (CC BY-ND)

1992

  • Price per gallon: $1.13 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.27
Zephyr Gas Station, Galesburg, IL
Zephyr Gas Station, Galesburg, IL by David Wilson (CC BY)

1993

  • Price per gallon: $1.11 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.16
1994 Gas Prices
eBay

1994

  • Price per gallon: $1.11 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.11
19950910 Shell Gas Station, Beloit, WI
19950910 Shell Gas Station, Beloit, WI by David Wilson (CC BY)

1995

  • Price per gallon: $1.15 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.12
Ontario Street, Looking West, Chicago, 1996
Ontario Street, Looking West, Chicago, 1996 by Steven Martin (CC BY-NC-ND)

1996

  • Price per gallon: $1.23 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.21
1997 Gas Prices
eBay

1997

  • Price per gallon: $1.23 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.16
19980328 06 Standard Gas Station Trinidad, CO
19980328 06 Standard Gas Station Trinidad, CO by David Wilson (CC BY)

1998

  • Price per gallon: $1.06 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $1.83
Treasure Island: Abandoned gas station
Treasure Island: Abandoned gas station by Todd Lappin (CC BY-NC)

1999

  • Price per gallon: $1.17 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $1.98
Chevron Station
Chevron Station by Phil Gyford (CC BY-NC-ND)

2000

  • Price per gallon: $1.51 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.46
Random Gas Station in West Virginia
Random Gas Station in West Virginia by Drew Allen (CC BY-NC-ND)

2001

  • Price per gallon: $1.46 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.31
Sunoco Snack Shop
Sunoco Snack Shop by David (CC BY-NC-ND)

2002

  • Price per gallon: $1.36 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.13
hot spot gas station
hot spot gas station by Colin Mutchler (CC BY)

2003

  • Price per gallon: $1.59 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.43
New Tops gas station 2004
New Tops gas station 2004 by gardener41 (CC BY-SA)

2004

  • Price per gallon: $1.88 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.79
2005 Gas Station
2005 Gas Station by K Hardy (CC BY-NC-ND)

2005

  • Price per gallon: $2.30 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.32
Hemmings Motor News Gas Station
Hemmings Motor News Gas Station by Joe Ross (CC BY)

2006

  • Price per gallon: $2.59 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.59
BP Gas Station, Sunrise FL
BP Gas Station, Sunrise FL by NNECAPA Photo Library (CC BY)

2007

  • Price per gallon: $2.80 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.78
2008 gas prices
Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2008

  • Price per gallon: $3.27 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $4.20
2009 gas prices
Scott Olson/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2009

  • Price per gallon: $2.35 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.06
2010 gas prices
Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2010

  • Price per gallon: $2.79 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.60
Pumping Gas
MATJAZ SLANIC/istockphoto

2011

  • Price per gallon: $3.53 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $4.40
2012 gas prices
Bruce Bennett/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2012

  • Price per gallon: $3.64 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $4.46
2013 gas prices
Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2013

  • Price per gallon: $3.53 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $4.25
2014 gas prices
Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2014

  • Price per gallon: $3.37 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.98
2015 gas prices
Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2015

  • Price per gallon: $2.45 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.89
2016 gas prices
J Pat Carter/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2016

  • Price per gallon: $2.14 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.50
2017 gas prices
George Frey/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2017

  • Price per gallon: $2.42 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.78
2018 gas prices
Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2018

  • Price per gallon: $2.72 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.15
2019 gas prices
Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2019

  • Price per gallon: $2.60 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.85
2020 gas prices
Mario Tama/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

2020

  • Price per gallon: $2.18 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $2.38


paying for gasoline
SbytovaMN / istockphoto

2021

  • Price per gallon: $3.01 
  • Adjusted for inflation: $3.12


2022 gas station
Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images North America

2022

  • Price per gallon as of this week: $4.87

Consumers are now paying an average of $1.81 more per gallon at the pump than they were last year, according to AAA. Prices continue to rise as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, setting new records multiple times since March. The war has led to sanctions on Russia's gas and oil, disinvestment from its industry by BP and other companies, and a scramble to increase energy supplies that don't come from Russia — and to build infrastructure to avoid relying on them in the future. 


Related: Record Inflation Continues to Bust Consumers' Budgets