Retail gasoline prices have hit an all-time February high, according to AAA. The current South Dakota average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline now stands at $3.498, up 27 cents over the last two months, making many motorists uneasy about what to expect in the coming months.
“Every driver is impacted by the increased cost of fuel” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokeswoman for AAA South Dakota. “But there are several easy things we can do to stretch each tank of gas and to find the lowest fuel prices when it’s time to fill up.”
Properly inflate tires
Only 17 percent of cars have all four tires properly inflated, yet the U.S. Department of Energy reports that proper tire inflation can improve fuel economy by up to three percent. It’s important not only to check tire pressures at least once a month, but also to make sure it’s done correctly. A recent survey found that 85 percent of motorists don’t know how to properly check tire pressures. It’s best to check the pressures when the tires are cold and have not been driven recently. Tires should be inflated to levels recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, not the pressure levels stamped on the tire sidewall. The proper pressure levels can be found on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
Be gentle on the gas and brake pedals
One of the easiest and most effective ways to conserve fuel is to change driving styles. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, gently accelerate rather than making a quick start. The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can lower a car’s fuel economy by up to 33 percent.
Let AAA find lowest gas prices
Click on Fuel News & Tools in the AAA News & Safety section of AAA.com to: check gas prices station-by-station with AAA’s free Fuel Price Finder, check national, state and city average prices via www.AAAFuelGaugeReport.com, and access AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator, which can figure your total fuel bill for your particular trip based on your particular vehicle.
AAA’s TripTik smartphone app provides motorists with the most current and accurate gas price data available, by drawing on credit card transactions at more than 100,000 stations nationwide. Drivers can find the lowest gas prices close to home or on the road. The AAA app’s GPS technology enables users to quickly locate stations on a map and see the price for all available grades of gasoline. Visit AAA.com/Mobile.
Drive the speed limit
Slowing down to observe the speed limit is safer and can conserve fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to avoid feeling rushed so you can arrive safely and with a little more fuel in the tank.
Plan errands in advance
When running errands, try to combine multiple tasks into one trip. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles. Online mapping tools such as AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner are available to help plan routes and are free to all motorists at AAA.com.
Lighten the load
A heavier vehicle uses more fuel. Lighten your vehicle by cleaning out the trunk, cargo areas and passenger compartments. Also try to avoid using a car’s roof rack to transport luggage or other equipment—especially over long distances on the highway. A loaded roof rack affects the vehicle aerodynamics and creates extra drag that reduces fuel economy.
Keep up-to-date on vehicle maintenance
Keeping a car running properly helps achieve maximum fuel economy. Be sure to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and do not ignore vehicle warning lights that indicate something is wrong. Warning lights can signal problems that will greatly decrease a car’s fuel efficiency. Check and replace air filters. Clogged filters can cause up to a 10-percent increase in fuel consumption.
A not-for-profit organization, AAA South Dakota serves its 91,000 members across South Dakota with emergency help on the road, auto travel assistance and a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 10 retail branches, and the Internet at www.AAA.com.