Getting your motor runnin' likely to cost more as you head out on the highway

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Monday, March 19, 2012
— Sue Wellnitz was filling up her 2003 Pontiac Grand Am on Sunday afternoon at Woodman's gas station, 2819 N. Lexington Drive, so she'd be ready for her work week.

The Janesville woman said she drives 16 miles one way to work and spends $50 a week on gasoline.

"That's just to work and back. It's pretty expensive," she said.

Wellnitz predicted that gasoline prices will climb as high as "four something" a gallon and explained why.

"I just saw on the Internet that it's $5 something in Oklahoma. So it's going to happen here."

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com in Chicago, thinks gas prices in Wisconsin will peak at between $4.05 and $4.40 per gallon.

"Prices will likely peak in May, as they have the last two years, just ahead of the start of the summer driving season. This is typically the time frame that refineries finish maintenance and begin all our production," he said.

Prices were last this high in spring 2011, DeHaan said.

Several factors are pushing the price of gasoline higher, he said.

"Driving forces include the switchover to summer/cleaner burning gasoline, the situation in Iran and refinery closures in the Northeast," DeHaan said.

Drivers fueling up Sunday at Woodman's were asked how high they think gasoline prices will go and how the higher price affects their driving habits and travel plans. Here's what they said:

-- Jennifer Steinke, 29, Sayner: "Probably $4.50 to $4.75. We don't take trips like we used to and do all our errands in one day."

-- Dave May, 58, Hudson: "About $4.20, unfortunately. We think twice about a trip we can put on hold or combine trips and have cut back 15 percent on traveling. I'm retired, so I'm more concerned about the price of gas and how it will impact our budget."

-- Beauford Bacon, 88, Janesville: "I don't know but hope they don't go any higher. I don't think it'll change our driving habits. That's the only thing we can enjoy."

-- Richard Schmeling, 73, Edgerton: "They're probably gonna go over $4. It's already too high. We don't drive as much or travel as far. We used to travel farther on trips, but right now, we're not taking any trips."

-- Luci Groetken, 42, Hanover: "Probably up past $4 and could get as high as $5. We pretty much try to do all our errands in one trip and carpool with friends to save. I can't afford to fill up with a family of seven. It costs $100 to fill up the minivan and $140 to fill up the Chevy Suburban. I'm putting in $40 to get through Thursday. When I get paid Friday, we'll put in what we need again."

As of Sunday, the average price of unleaded gasoline in Wisconsin was $3.949 cents a gallon compared to the national average of $3.810, according to GasBuddy, which operates WisconsinGasPrices.com and more than 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at more than 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada.

That's a 12.3-cent increase from one week ago, a 48.5-cent increase from one month ago and 44.4-cent increase from one year ago, the website showed Sunday.

Last updated: 7:55 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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