If it seems like it’s costing more and more to fill up your gas tank, it’s not just your imagination.

On average, a gallon of fuel costs 22 cents more than it did at this time last year. Worse yet, experts think it’ll climb higher still.

In 2011, gas prices peaked at an average of $3.50, with the typical American household spending $4,155 at the pump — both record highs. And according to AAA, if the cost fluctuation patterns of 2012 follow precedents set last year, drivers will likely see prices of over $4 for a gallon of regular by spring or summer.

Analysts at GasBuddy cite seasonal demand patterns, rising tension with Iran, rising demand for oil, and — ironically — economic recovery as reasons for what they believe is an inevitable spike that will make 2012 the most expensive year ever for gas.

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