COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Gas prices are beginning to move up again, an annual rite of the new year similar to the birds flying north.

But for people who drive cars that require premium gasoline, their prices are heading up higher and faster.

Matt Fluegeman was stunned to see how bad the price spread has become in recent weeks.

“The price of premium used to be about 20 or 30 cents more than regular was,” he said.

At his local station, regular was $3.25, plus fuel was $3.75, and premium was $4.25, a full dollar more than regular.

“It’s just getting ridiculous how high prices are going,” he told us.

You may be thinking people who by premium can afford it. After all, many of them drive BMW’s, Mercedes, and other European cars. But Fluegeman says he just drives a Chevrolet Equinox, and it requires pricey premium.

“it says premium fuel recommended,” he said.

He worries using regular could hurt his car’s performance, as it has a turbocharged engine.

But AAA suggests you says check your car’s handbook, saying some vehicles require premium, but others run fine on regular, just with less pickup.

As for the growing price spread, AAA says Shell and Chevron premium are considered “top tier” gas, with special additives and detergents to reduce carbon buildup.

Those additives have become much more expensive in the past few years.

Fluegeman, though, says the price spread is costing him hundreds of dollars a year.

“I’m looking at another six or seven dollars a fill up,” he said.

And he says it’s not just Porsche and Mercedes owners that are affected. If your car suggests premium — but doesn’t require it –check with your dealer and see if downgrading your gas is safe for your engine, so you don’t waste your money.

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