More people are taking action as gas prices increase
SIKESTON -- Motorists have grown accustomed to fluctuating fuel prices but for many of them, saving money and getting the most out of their vehicles remains a major concern.
Missouri's average price is $3.08 for regular unleaded gasoline compared to the national average of $3.26 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. The Sikeston area average is $3.05, according to gasbuddy.com.
"Gas prices are trending upward. Certainly the end is not yet over in terms of rising prices," said Mike Right, spokesperson for AAA in St. Louis.
Although it may sometimes seem as though gas prices edge higher toward week's end, there's no proof to that, Right said.
"What usually happens is the distribution of fuel is on a day-by-day basis, usually about once every 10 days," Right said. "Price is set then and reacted to by the retailers ... so it's impossible to say what day is the lowest."
However, there are a lot of things people can do to conserve fuel that is really painless, Right said.
"We have found people are taking actions to reducing energy consumption," Right said. "As prices excel, we see a greater number of people taking action."
More people are carpooling, and based on polling by AAA, they're reducing leisure travel, Right said.
"The way you drive is very important. You can save 20 percent (of fuel) if you're an aggressive driver by switching to a steady foot on the accelerator, slowing down when approaching stop signs and naturally coasting up or down a hill," Right said.
One of the things people don't do is use the appropriate level of octane in their gas, Right said.
"A higher octane level doesn't improve gas mileage. If they use a higher octane level than is called for, they're basically wasting their money. Select the right octane fuel for your vehicle," Right said.
Wade Owens, service manager at Morlan Dodge in Sikeston, also said motorists should select the right fuel for their vehicles.
"Vehicles get about a third less fuel mileage with E85. If the vehicle normally gets 24 miles per gallon, it will get 14 miles per gallon on E85. Make sure you know what fuel you're using," Wade said.
And don't leave cars running idle -- whether to run an errand indoors or going through a drive-through, Wade said.
"When cars are idle that really takes the fuel down. There's an old wives' tale that it takes more gas to restart the engine but that's not true," Wade said.
Drive slower, Wade said. The faster a vehicle travels, the more fuel it burns. Now that the weather is warming up, many people will be going on vacations. Put luggage inside the vehicle instead of strapped to the top, Wade advised.
"Vehicles are designed to go without anything extra up there; it really reduces fuel mileage. If you can reduce the vehicle's weight, it will help their mileage, too. For about every 100 pounds less, you get somewhere around 2 percent better gas mileage," Wade said.
The four most common vehicle maintenance performance includes using the correct motor oil for a car, keeping a clean air filter, getting regular engine tune ups and keeping tires inflated, Wade said.
"Most people don't realize (they need to keep their vehicles maintained). It helps vehicles perform better," said Tim Chamberlain of Plaza Tire Service Inc. Plaza Tire Service made the following basic vehicle maintenance recommendations: an alignment check should be performed every 10,000 miles; air filters replaced every 15,000 miles; three-step fuel system cleaning conducted every 20,000 miles; fuel filter replaced every 30,000 miles; and auto transmission fluid changed every 30,000 miles.
One method to prevent tire aging and gaining in popularity is using nitrogen gas instead of compressed air in tires because oxygen leaks out at least three to four times faster than nitrogen, Chamberlain said. Professional race car drivers, military and commercial aircraft and space shuttle program inflates tires with nitrogen.
"A lot of people are hearing about (nitrogen) and trying it due to the fact it holds steady air pressure," Chamberlain said.
Nitrogen tire inflation can improve fuel economy and performance including braking, handling and steering, and reduce tire wear thus making tires last longer. Meanwhile, motorists should keep their eyes open for a good deal on fuel.
"You can shop for gasoline," Right said. "Often you'll find a noticeable difference in retail outlets and be aware of what's going on with gas prices."
> When it comes to tires, remember PART -- pressure, alignment, rotation and tread, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
Pressure: Under inflation or overloading creates excessive stress and heat and can lead to tire failure, which could result in vehicle damage and/or serious injury or death. An over-inflated tire can cause uneven wear in the center of the tread.
Alignment: Misalignment of wheels in the front or rear can cause uneven and rapid tread wear and should be corrected by a tire dealer.
Rotation: Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
Tread: One easy way to know when tires need to be replaced is to place a penny into the tread groove. If part of Abraham Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, then it's OK. If all of his head is seen, it's time to buy a new tire. Built-in tread wear indicators called "wear bars" will appear on the tire when the tread is worn down. Wear bars are narrow strips of smooth rubber that appear across the tread when a tire is worn out and needs replaced.
> Don't top off your gas tank, according to the American Automobile Association. In warm weather, fuel expansion can cause overflow.
> If you must replace a gas cap, make sure it's the right one for your car. Keep track of gas mileage.
> If you notice a decrease in fuel economy, your vehicle may not be operating at peak performance.
> Look into gas rebate programs, which provides a rebate every time you fill up.
> Spark plugs must be in good condition. Some will last for 100,000 miles but many need to be replaced more often.
> Consolidate trips and errands to cut down on driving time and miles traveled.