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How can Midwesterners find cheaper gas as Memorial Day weekend approaches?

Motorists in Iowa are buying E85 fuel because it's cheaper, but it's not ideal for everyone's vehicle
Posted at 6:58 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 19:58:08-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV)  — With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, customers will lose money at the pump. The national average for gas is almost $4.60 a gallon, according to AAA.

With millions of Americans preparing to "road trip", drivers everywhere are bracing themselves for skyrocketing prices.

"We don't fill it. We get enough fuel to go along and gets the jobs done," said Phil Brown, a tow truck driver at a gas station in Glenwood.

"It's always a surprise at the end when you fill it up. All of a sudden, it's about $20 more than it used to be or $25 more than it used to be," said Tom Hoogestraat.

Since E85 is cheaper than regular gasoline, customers say they're making a conscious effort to buy it whenever they can.

"If I can get to a gas station where there's E85, like I'll try and make it rather than throw 87 in the tank 'cause it's gonna cost me close to 100 bucks or more," said Nico Saldana.

Motorists buying E85 fuel because it's cheaper is something mechanic, Tim Carper has seen before. But he urges the importance of knowing your vehicle.

"They're just not reading the pumps. I just had a phone call 20 minutes ago stating their vehicle ran pretty crappy and it wasn't running all that great. She put in E85 and says it's compatible with E85, but it's starting to run pretty bad," said Carper.

The government says some cars that are made to use flex-fuel, also known as E85, will actually run better. Carper says the key is to understand what's compatible with your car.

"Look at the gas cap, have a yellow gas cap which will either tell you it's E85, the color of it. Kind of do research, look at Google, look at the year, make and model," Carper said.

Most cars made after 2001 can use E15. In fact, Iowa just enacted a law requiring most gas stations to sell it. The blend costs more than E85, but less than regular unleaded. The EPA says with E15, your mileage drop is usually less than 5%.

For some consumers, it's worth it.

"Here in the Midwest, ethanol is our answer. It's good for the farmer, good for the economy," Carper said.

If you're looking for alternate fuels like ethanol or even charging stations, there are apps available to help you search and you can go on Google to plan your route.

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