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 |  Mar 15 2012, 6:01 PM

Gas prices always hit a spike in the summer, and this year is shaping up to be a doozy with prices likely to pass $4.00 per gallon by Memorial Day. 

With fuel costs jumping to such dramatic heights, it might feel like a logical decision to jump ship on your current car for something less thirsty. Smart as that seems, an article published in Forbes proves otherwise.

The truth is, a car that gets a few mpg better than what you’re driving now would amount to a few dollars in savings but nothing substantial to most people.

“Assuming the average consumer drives 12,000 miles per year in a vehicle that gets 20 mpg, an increase of $1.00 per gallon, from $3.60 to $4.60 per gallon as an example, would only result in an approximate increase of $11.50 per week in fuel expenses,” Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book told Forbes.

Moving from a full-size SUV to a something significantly smaller is the only instance where trading cars in favor of fuel economy yields noticeable savings, but it’s important to consider that most people driving larger cars do it for a reason. It will be tough moving the whole family around in a Fiat 500 when you become accustomed to your Chevrolet Suburban.

The move is still difficult to justify if you’re one of the people who bought an SUV just to have one. High-milage hybrid cars come at a premium because of the new technology they rely on. Even if you get lucky and trade that Ford Explorer in for a decent rate, you’re still probably going to pay a lot — both at signing and in installments.

Even if it means buying a couple new handkerchiefs to dab away the tears as you fuel up, it’s probably not cost-effective to make the car trade unless you’re in the market anyway.

[Source: Forbes]