By on May 22, 2008

71w55fkg1el_ss500_gif.jpgBack on tax day, we asked you what you were paying for gas. I was balking at the fact that I was paying $3.99 per gallon of premium. Well, bring back those salad days. Just five short weeks later (i.e today), I had to shell out $4.27 per premium gallon. And while I have it bad, the Ford Escape-driving lady in front of me had to charge $61 to AmEx. To fill up a teeny little SUV! Gulp. And a barrel of crude now goes for $135 on the open, OPECian market. Which means higher prices are yet to come. Case in point, John Horner shared with us the horrifying news that the IEA is predicting $12 a gallon gasoline. Quick translation: it would cost me $150 or so a tank to fill up my car. Big gulp. So I'm asking you, at what price does a gallon gas make you cry uncle?

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89 Comments on “Question of the Day: What’s Your Gas Price Breaking Point?...”

  • avatar

    Back in the early days of the first fuel crisis (remember even/odd days and gas lines?) I stated that if gas ever went over 50 cents a gallon I’d park my car and walk. Well, I’m still driving so you know how that went.

    Earlier this week I paid $60 to fill up my A4 with mid-grade. I’m not going to say that a certain price is my breaking point, but it may not be long before I’m there, whatever it turns out to be.

  • avatar

    I think at $10/gal is when I’ll be cutting back on the small amount of personal driving that I typically do (6k/year typically, but 13k last year). Until that, I think I’ll really start whining at about $8/gal, but making sensible vehicle purchases (low weight, small but adequate engines) has been a lifestyle for me, so my cost per mile isn’t increasing as sharply as others.

  • avatar

    My oil production stocks have gone up 24% in the last three months. So as far as gas prices are concerned,

    GO BABY GO!!

  • avatar

    @ $6 per gallon, I’m going to be cutting back.

    My hat is off to the shrewd gentlemen in Tehran. They have made it abundantly clear that any attack on their country will be countered by an attack on shipping and oil producing facilities in the Gulf.

    The current speculation in oil futures is being driven by a belief that the US/Israel will attack Iran by this summer. The Iranians are are saying, “Go ahead, pull the trigger, I dare you. BTW, here’s a little taste of you it’ll be like without your daily crude fix.”

    Is George crazy/stupid enough to pull the trigger?

  • avatar

    at $5 bucks I may cut. Not sure really, I may just go find a Civic Or Integra.

  • avatar

    As long as oil goes up slowly, people will cope and continue driving. If it shoots up all of the sudden, then people might break. 5 years ago, if anyone knew we’d be having 4 dollar gas, they’d probably poop their pants.

  • avatar

    6 bucks I’ll start cutting back…although there isn’t too much to cut back on myself, it’s the other driver in the house that needs to cut back a bit (sigh).

    More combined trips, biking for the local and small errands (use the kiddo trailer for groceries-ha!), biking in less than beautiful weather to work.

    Actually, I’d like to get us down to one vehicle, but I’ll wait until the 82 240 dies which sucks gas like a small pickup.

  • avatar

    Is George crazy/stupid enough to pull the trigger?

    I’d have to say yes, unfortunately.


  • avatar

    $5.00/gallon is definitely my breaking point. I commute 30 miles each way to/from work. My wife works another 8 up the road from me, so we started driving together back when it hit $3.00/gallon.

    Most of our disposable income is starting to evaporate in the fuel tank now – our raises sure as heck aren’t keeping up with the increase in fuel. I’d gladly trade in my vehicle for something more fuel efficient, but that is not an option I have right now. I may have to take my bonus next month and find a used Metro if they aren’t priced too high now.

  • avatar

    For me the cut was two months ago. I sold my Alfa Romeo 147 when I realized that a fill up was the equivalent of $130, and my salary isn’t rising fast enough. But I had gotten the hint a while back and the car was mostly parked while I would bike or take public transportation. Luckily where we are the public transportation is extensive, and the roads are nice enough to bike on.

    So I’ll still use my wife’s Renault Clio with it’s awe-inspiring 1.2l 8valve powerplant.

    Dont worry car lovers, one day, I have a nice convertible sports car that I’ll take out on weekends on winding roads, but to get to work or to go to the store, I’m looking for alternate solutions.

  • avatar

    By the way, here where I am, gas is going for the equivalent of $8.30 per gallon. However the shock hasn’t been as rude as 5 years ago gas was going for 5-6 bucks a gallon. So there aren’t too many SUV drivers here in the first place.

  • avatar

    The question I have is what is China’s breaking point? Although gas prices are high for us here in the US, how will this affect Chinese demand? I understand that the Chinese economy is booming but I can’t believe they have the same capacity to eat up fuel cost increases that we do. So, if that is true, wouldn’t that cause a decline in global demand?

  • avatar

    Around $6/gallon I’ll hop on a motorcycle.

  • avatar

    I miss my 1994 Eclipse. Those 92 horses sure knew how to propel a lightweight car. Also, that thing was amazing on gas (back when it was 99 cents). Granted I love the car I drive now, but if I had that I would be taking it on my 60 mile commute on all the nice days.

  • avatar

    I don’t think there is a breaking point for me. No, I’m not made of money; I’ll just have to do without other luxuries in order to keep the tank filled. I *have* to drive to work (though I work from home four days a week now) and I *have* to drive my daughter to daycare. Today I paid $82 Canadian to fill my Volvo XC70 with premium. This is the first time I’ve broken the $80 mark. I suspect I’ll be breaking the $100 mark within the next year.

  • avatar

    Breaking point? Poorly defined. I still need to drive. Maybe at 20$/Gallon I would start doing my groceries on a bicycle.

    I take a long term view. There is no question price is heading up. My next car will be something near the top end of mileage capability. Real world 40mpg+.

    10$-12$/Gallon. I will just have a good belly laugh at the folks in big SUVs paying a dollar/mile to drive.

    Long before we hit $20/gallon all kinds of alternatives will make more sense.

  • avatar

    China (along with many developing countries and oil producers) subsidizes oil to help appease the unwashed masses.

    The subsidies are getting to be crippling in many of these places and are gobbling up larger and larger slices of GDP. Some of them are going to face the ugly choice of riots in the streets vs bankruptcy.

    My breaking point is around $6 or $7/gallon.

  • avatar

    I drive 12 miles to work and share the ride with my wife so we generally do around 150 miles a week so my breaking point is a little higher than most.

    However, gas alone is not the issue – it is the inflation that it causes on all items that we need. Just look at how food prices have risen in the past year. A number of economists have been speculating that the real rate inflation this year could reach 8-10% (as opposed to the 4.5% CPI which cleverly exludes most essential items). If you are retired on a fixed income that is bad news indeed.

    Never mind how you will manage to fill up your tank, how will you be able to afford everything else?

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    I’m tired of all this complaining. What I want are solutions! What about cadavers? We’ve got hundreds of thousands of acres of green lawn covering untapped resourses throughout the nation. Hey smart guys, isn’t there a “Soylent Green”-like solution for our petroleum needs? Isn’t there a way to boil a body down into something than runs in a GreaseCar? Screw MPG, I want MPB…miles per body!

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    Egypt’s steam locomotives were often fueled by burning mummies…..

  • avatar

    When gas hit $4 a gallon (Premium that is) I took the spare tire, jack, and floor mats out of my car for local driving. About 50 LBS of weight. I read that on average you save about .3 mpg for each 100 pounds of weight you lose and that adds up over the long haul. In addition I dug out my old portable battery air pump and have been much better about making sure my cars tires are inflated and also next oil change I am switching to synthetic. I’ve got a 2006, 6 speed Corolla XRS. It has the 2ZZ engine in it that you find in the celica GTS and Elise, just detuned. The 6th gear is extremely tall and I average between 36-38 MPG on the highway if i stay under 65 and lay off the accelerator. Having no low end torque is great on gas but sucks for highway crusing. Also I try and stay in the highest gear possible around town.

    I would imagine that this is a sort of breaking point. When you change your driving, maintance habbits to minimize the impact of gas prices. However, every now and then i do hit lift (the car switches to a more aggressive cam profile from6,600 – 8,200 RPM). That’s just the automotive geek in me that regardless of gas price sometimes needs to experience some hoonage.

  • avatar

    $30 a gallon, maybe. I only use about a hundred gallons a year. All I know is Zillow is loving my humble intown abode lately, so color me conflicted.

  • avatar

    I own a Suzuki Swift (Geo Metro) so for me it’s somewhere around $20/gallon.

  • avatar

    No breaking point. Fuel costs are such a (relatively) small part of the overall budget that, well, I’ll go with the flow. (pun intended) An extra 50 bucks a month won’t change a damn thing. It’s great for political posturing tho.

  • avatar

    So is that 0.15 mpg difference helping at all? I keep out of the accelerator and use CC when I can, that helps quite a bit more…especially if you know how to time traffic lights and when traffic is sparse! But I’m not going to hold up traffic either when I leave a stoplight.

    Will the price difference between syn and dino oil pay off for the less fuel consumed? I’m curoius…also, will syn oil become cheaper (per qt) as dino oil rises in price? It’s an alternative for several other reasons, but will price become one of them?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman


    For some of us it would be an extra $800 per month.

    Which, while I don’t know what it is, sure as hell ain’t “posturing.”

    I think it’s a vacation home in Baja.

  • avatar

    There is no real breaking point for me.

    Due to the woeful lack of real public transit in this country’s cities (except for NYC and Chicago) I simply have no choice but to drive.

    Believe me I would love to be able to board a bus from my neighborhood or walk to a train station and get a nice ride to work in the middle of the city each day instead of putting that wear and tear on my car sitting in daily gridlock.

    All we can do is cut back on the amount of unnecessary driving we do and pleasure spending on things like eating out.

    Even if fuel is $6+ per gallon I will still go road trips, take a scenic drive through the mountains every now and then, cruise a little at night or visit the drag-strip.

  • avatar

    As far a driving goes, I have no breaking point. I’ll sell everythinng I own and move into my car before I give up driving.

  • avatar

    Even though every time oil prices go up I make money on my Energy Fund investments – a LOT of money – I still feel a bit weird putting $40+ into the tank. I know I’ve made $100K plus on the rise in energy prices, and that will buy a LOT of gas, but I still remember filling the tank on my first car for $3 – with change left over. Of course it was an Austin A40 that had a 8 or 10 gallon tank, and gas was around $.27 so a fill was cheap.

    Anyway, I find that I am trying to be easier on the turbo to try and keep my mileage a bit better on the WRX wagon – the Scanguage that reads out actual mileage and such is a great reminder. I’m even a bit more loath to go out to garage sales or the other side of town.

    But really while I suppose $4-5 gas is changing my driving style, there’s NO price that will “break my bank” – heck I’ll be better the higher it goes – but if it gets to $7 in the US it will radically change the way life is experienced.

  • avatar

    @ TEXN3

    .15 mpg improvement over a year adds up. As I would also imagine keeping tires better inflated and cruising at a taller gear. Timing traffic lights would be a neat way to cut down on idle time but my back and forth driving to work is mainly rural roads.

    And what does it hurt keeping the spare out of your car for local driving. If i get a flat I just call a friend to pick me up and we’ll get the spare and jack from my house. The benefit of reduced weight shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It’s not like i am stripping my car down.

  • avatar

    For some of us it would be an extra $800 per month.

    Which, while I don’t know what it is, sure as hell ain’t “posturing.”

    I think it’s a vacation home in Baja.

    800 bucks a month EXTRA isn’t posturing, for sure. It’s a hell of a lot of driving, but not posturing. My point is that it depends on how much we drive or have to fill up per month. My off-hand 50 buck amount is probably, for ME, MAYBE 150. Maybe. An extra 17 dollars a fill-up. Now 800…hmm. Now if your point is that 12 DOLLAR gas would cost you and extra 800/mo. then…point taken.

  • avatar

    The upside to $12 gas is I could finally safely ride my bike to work b/c the roads will be empty. Of course that assumes there is a job for me to go to…

    I’m not going to be very enthusiastic on 27 degree mornings though…

  • avatar


    Hmmm, I tried to catch the bus to Los Gatos, CA last night in order to save gas, but it never turned up. I drive such relatively few miles that the price/gallon tipping point is still way off, but while public transport remains somewhat unreliable the options to do anything but drive are limited.

  • avatar

    wheelbarrows full of money….
    is that what were in for as the dollar drops in value.
    I guess ill have to put one in the trunk!!
    the current state of affairs in this country isn’t even funny anymore……………
    Its SCARY

  • avatar

    There’s no real breaking point for me. Currently I’m using my bike more around town and I’ll limit myself to 55 mph on the highway next time I take a trip. I had been limiting myself to 62 mph the last time I left town a couple of months ago. If prices keep going up, I’ll just drive even slower on the highway and less around town, and next time I need a car I’ll go even smaller.

  • avatar

    Dose anyone care to guess at what price per gallon fast food drive thru’s will become a thing on the past?4.00 per gallon is not it!Not enough pain yet.

  • avatar

    What do you mean by “breaking point”? You mean at which point I stop going to work? And then what? As for other driving, I don’t. Commute to work (and I already either telecommute or fly 50%) and to a trailhead to hike. Everything else I can walk to.

    At $30 per gallon the flying part would pretty much collapse, so most of my work would have to be done virtually (online). We would just have to adapt technologically to that.

    I really do not see the fuel price rise as such a huge deal. Country as resourceful and resilient as US will find technological solutions and ways to adapt. Ultimately, we will be better for it.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Breaking point is tough to define. I will say that I carpool to certain things that I didn’t used to. Also, my view on my next car has changed somewhat. Where before I would have sucked up the fuel cost difference for something like a Mustang GT, I’ll probably instead be looking for frugal fun like a GTI or Mazda3.

  • avatar

    Already there.

    For the summer vacation: we’re not flying this year. Instead we’re driving…

    Flying uses a lot of fuel: our family of 4 people uses less fuel when we drive somewhere than when we fly there. But, of course, when we drive this summer we won’t be going as far as we would be flying otherwise, so we get double gain in fuel. It’s also cheaper.

  • avatar

    The question for really isn’t at what point the “bank will break” but when I will drive less and ultimately buy a more fuel efficient car. I alread drive less and take public transportation more. I am ready for a new car and for the first time in my life fuel economy is a significant consideration, although still less important that how safe the car is. I am still not ready for a Prius. I am hoping for a vehicle that gets pretty good mileage, has some style and comfort and is relatively very safe. Slim pickings at the moment in my opinion.

  • avatar

    Even though all of my cars are (relatively) small and efficient, even at $4/gal it’s starting to affect me. My Quad-4/5-spd Sunfire gets about 21-23 MPG in town, but refilling the tank is becoming painful. The last time I did it, it was $55. Multiply that over 3 cars per week, and it starts to add up.

    I have been driving like Grandma lately, and keeping up with tire pressures, plugs, oil and filter changes, but after a while, you can only improve so much on any given car. I think when the lease is up on the Maxx, I may look into a 4 cyl. Malibu instead.

    What bothers me more is not the cost of fuel today, but like other posters noted, is the cost of everything else in the near future. My wife works for a trucking and logistics company, they have fuel surcharges for almost every run. Sooner or later (and I think it will be sooner) those costs will be passed on to us.

    It won’t be the cost of daily driving, it will be the cost of eating that will be the real breaking point.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if I really have a breaking point, but it does suck to fill my car up. I pumped about 15 gallons of diesel into my Jetta yesterday at $4.66/gallon. Last time I filled up on April 18, I paid $4.22! Luckily I don’t drive much, but I am planning a trip in June that will be about 1400 miles roundtrip. I figure it’ll cost about $150 in diesel to do that, which I’m not happy about.

    I’m more concerned about heating oil this coming winter. My contract is up for renewal in June and I don’t even want to guess at what the cost/gallon will end up being. Oh well, I guess we might have to keep the heat low and use a space heater or something.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Like others have said, it is hard to define a breaking point. If you mean at what price does your behavior change, Our family is already there. Not in a drastic all-stop kind of way, but we are driving less. Our current daily drivers are all over 20 mpg vehicles (TSX, Accord and Volvo 240)in local driving, but when it comes time for new ones several years from now I expect to be shopping the over 35 offerings.

  • avatar

    I have a gas-powered transport for every era. A 15mpg Caprice wagon on one end, and a 250cc Ninja on the other. Speaking of those two, the Caprice has enough gas in it right now to last me for 1500 miles if I were to use it in the bike. Oughtta carry me through the summer if we get Katrina-style fuel shortages :P

    Nevertheless, I just got a full tank in that said Caprice last week, and it didn’t break my bank. Considering all my other cars get twice the gas mileage, I’m safe for $10 gas for sure. Past that point, I’ll be more than pleased to drive the bike on (hopefully by then) SUV-free roads.

    Oh, regardless, I live 3 walking minutes from work, and worst comes to worst, I can do a 15 minute walk to the store as well.

    Only problem, looks like I’m gonna have to stock up on local potatoes and fill the Caprice with home-made preserves for the winter. With $10 gas, out-of-state food prices are gonna be a bitch.

  • avatar

    I regularly pay $170 to fill up my diesel pickup, and $60 to fill my car with premium.

    $8 per gallon gas (or diesel) is my mental “breaking point”.

    I ran an experiment last weekend. My car usually gets about 27mpg highway, driving moderately aggressively but not crazily. Last weekend I drove 400 miles, all highway with cruise control on, at 60mph. I got 34mpg.

    Based on the number of people passing me at high speed, I can only conclude that high gas prices aren’t impacting many people, or that they simply don’t realize how their driving impacts their gas mileage.

    How’s this for a crazy idea; I’m not a big fan of government regulation but I bet if the government required every automaker to include a mileage gauge on their cars, shown as prominently as the speedometer, gas usage would decrease substantially.

    I think a large part of the success hybrids have in increasing mileage is that they show you your mileage at all times. People can see when they floor the pedal that their mileage drops substantially.

  • avatar

    @RGS The savings of fuel would be gone if your friend had to drive and pick you up and burn their fuel. I’m not trying to be rude at all, but it’s a diminishing return in my mind.

    However, keeping a can of fix-a-flat on hand wouldn’t be a bad idea, but would be approximately the same cost as the amount of fuel you’re saving!

    I do like the idea of having less “stuff” in the car and often do…I’m not a fan of clutter, whether I can see it or not. I don’t know how the little lady puts up with me!

  • avatar

    I can cut back some driving, but not much. The wife and I still have to go to work. It just comes out of our play money.

    I’m not going to go out and buy a higher MPG car just because of it, not at least for just that reason.

  • avatar

    I already combine several trips into one, e.g. stopping at the store that’s immediately on my way home from work. And, I gave up “going for a drive just for the fun of it” about $2/gallon ago. Since there is no usable public transportation where I live, I guess the real question for me becomes “When do you start riding your bike to work sun or shine?” I’m thinking $8/gallon to get me riding to work in good weather and $12/gallon to get me riding in most weather.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    We’re going squish the family (with 3 little kids) into Mazda5 instead of the Sienna for a 500mi round trip this weekend. I’m guesstimating savings to be in the $16-$20 range at $4/gal.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure yet. But I’m driving all over the place right now, and that’s just going to get worse as I start working full-time over the summer (a 23 mile commute, and that’s not too mention driving to hang out with friends, etc) and I’ve only just started to feel pinched by the prices (3.60s are most common right now for regular).

    After i get a bolt out of the head and find some lifters (possibly stuck in oil passage ways in block–my brother’s fault) I’ll be driving a slightly more fuel-efficient vehicle so that will kind of balance things out a bit.

  • avatar

    alanp :
    May 22nd, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Even though every time oil prices go up I make money on my Energy Fund investments – a LOT of money – I still feel a bit weird putting $40+ into the tank. I know I’ve made $100K plus on the rise in energy prices, and that will buy a LOT of gas, but I still remember filling the tank on my first car for $3 – with change left over. Of course it was an Austin A40 that had a 8 or 10 gallon tank, and gas was around $.27 so a fill was cheap.

    But really while I suppose $4-5 gas is changing my driving style, there’s NO price that will “break my bank” – heck I’ll be better the higher it goes – but if it gets to $7 in the US it will radically change the way life is experienced.

    When the price of gas first started really rising a few years ago, I heard Walter E. Williams (economist) telling people if they were so concerned about the price of gas, they ought to buy stocks in oil companies, oil futures, etc. as a hedge against rising gas prices. Then again he’s a very conservative free market economist, so who would listen to him. He doesn’t appeal to a persons feelings or tell the right lies to make them feel good about themselves.

  • avatar

    60 bucks to fill up the tiny tank on my Cooper S this morning.

    Extra trips and leisure driving have gone right out the window. I ride my bicycle to work three or so days a week anyway.

    I’m actually less worried about my personal trips than I am about these prices impacting the cost-of-goods-sold on groceries and basic needs.

    If it hits $10, we’re going to see rampant inflation across the board. Not what this teetering economy needs right now.

  • avatar

    The other day my fill up was $60 for about 50 litres. The most I’ve paid for sure. It’s at $1.35 now in Vancouver. I work from home so I don’t see a breaking point any time soon.

    Many people still need to drive to work and drop their kids at school, so it’s still very busy in traffic here. I don’t think anyone can quit driving even if they wanted to. The only option is to down grade the large vehicles or take transit if possible. Vancouver transit is only good if you actually live in Vancouver! :)

  • avatar

    The higher gas goes, the emptier the roads will become and the more I’ll be driving.

    I am on a car site, am I not?

  • avatar

    A taste of what life is like at approx. $9 a gallon.
    My thought is the Feds should raise taxes gradually to about $8 a gallon then hold it steady and cut income taz instead. That would deliver a permanent drop in demand and provide an incentive for alternative fuels without subsidies.

    I don’t see why you attribute high oil prices to “the shrewd gentlemen in Tehran”.
    Unfortunately those gents are far from shrewd and can’t even keep up with domestic demand for gas. Their whole infrastructure is falling apart.
    There is zero chance of a US attack on Iran.

  • avatar

    Busbodger: “The upside to $12 gas is I could finally safely ride my bike to work b/c the roads will be empty.”That’s what I was thinking. I suspect there are a lot of people that would like to bike to work but, given current traffic congestion, it’s just too damn dangerous for most to even attempt. Maybe $12/gal gas will motivate local govts to construct more bike-safe routes.

  • avatar

    Anyone with a vacation home in Baja knows what the future holds for the U.S. The expatriots often rides bicycles in the small towns, enjoying their leisure. The natives however drive our discarded cars around on two or three cylinders, after removing anything that looks like emissions devices to get from one end of town to the other. These cars could not get more than 10 MPG despite being 3000 lbs. They would take the bottle out of their baby's mouth before neglecting to feed the POS car they are so proud of. We north of the border are no better and the same thing will happen here.

  • avatar

    My commute is 10 miles daily, double round trip (that is, I go home for lunch; I live about 2.5 miles from work). I’ve taken the bus before; it takes forever. I probably would not go back to the bus unless gas was at least $10 a gallon; more likely my cutoff would be $20 a gallon.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I’m with brownie. Clear the highways and byways for me. Although I would like stores to remain open in case I need something other than drive time.

    And don’t worry about poor Chinese government having to subsidize gas with its daily inbound ration of USD$. What else can they do with them, other than lend right back to us so we can keep spending what we borrow from China on Chinese imports?

  • avatar

    $2.50 a gallon and that’s it for me…definite….no more driving, no more TTAC.

    When that happens I’m giving up cars and walking everywhere

  • avatar

    I am with the above posters on fuel prices affecting EVERYTHING except driving. My wife & I together barely spend more than $100/month at $3.50/gallon gas. I have an STi I drive just on the weekends (I really prefer to drive it in snow with snow tires), and she has a neon. We don’t travel much, and we both have an option to take the train to work.

    We will be moving into a nicer apartment soon and both will STILL have the option to take the train to work.

    IF I decide I want (have?) to drive, and gas hits, say…$20/gallon, that just gives me a reason to get a new toy (200cc motorcycle) @ 80mpg.

    $5/gallon @ 16mpg is more expensive than $20/gallon at 80mpg, no ?

    Right now when I actually do need to drive (weekends only), I grab the motorcycle (a gas guzzling 600cc sportbike). Last 2 tanks were 42 & 44mpg. I have no fear of $20 gas as it relates to me driving, but I have a great fear of it in relation to everything else, as I live in a large urban area. Transportation is easy. Getting fruits, vegetables, imported things, etc is expensive.

  • avatar

    5 years ago 1 ounce of gold would have bought 239 gallons of gas.

    Today, 1 ounce of gold will buy 232 gallons of gas.

    The price of gas isn’t the problem :(

  • avatar

    Came off a BC Ferry on Monday and paid $1.48 per litre for premium at the first available gas station in a suburb of Vancouver. That is the most I have ever paid for gas in my life, I think that’s about US$5.60 per gallon.

    So it doesn’t change our everyday car usage, which is minimal since we live in a walkable neighborhood. But it does start to affect vacation plans. No more impulse drives down to California or Utah to go camping. Getaways will be closer to home, and Big Sur and Zion will have to live without us.

  • avatar

    I filled up this morning, after Mrs. had the Prius to go on a 150 mile biz. trip yesterday (I had the conventional car yesterday as we could not carpool as we usually do).

    Good thing. Filled up for $3.93.9, and this afternoon after leaving work and on the way to pick Mrs. up, I happened to notice gas was now $4.19.9 per US gallon in northwestern Michigan.

    You know, northwestern Michigan with the collapsed economy which has been in recession for years while the only other state in recession was Louisiana after Katrina.

    God only knows what gas jumped up to in New York City today, or LA.

    My breaking point? Not gas price, but how many colleagues can I squeeze into the Prius so they can help pay for $20 a gallon gas to & from work 15 miles away – there’s room for three more.

    They might have to lose a little weight, but with food prices soon skyrocketing, I suspect this will be less of a problem than it has been since, oh, about 1933.

  • avatar

    I can’t say what the price point is, but when it gets too much, the 6cyl GM will disappear and be replaced by a 4cyl Honda, and the process will begin again. One of the nicer feature of staggering vehicles purchase if you have two – the oldest can be replaced at your leisure and for reasons you choose, the other remains in service.

  • avatar

    the real problem is that the dollar has dropped. Since oil is denominated in dollars, the price has increased, as the oil remains the same. The Fed has been propping up the economy with cheap money (only for big players…no one has offered to refinance my normal mortgage at 1%)

    If the oil producing nations go for Euros as the denomination currency the dollar will drop still further.

  • avatar

    My breaking point was when we had a 2003 Explorer V8 which averaged around 14 mpg and gas was hitting $3 per gallon. It sure looks like I made the right move getting rid of it then although it was a great vehicle. I sure it’s value has taken a big dive since I sold it two years ago.

  • avatar

    i own a business and gas is tax deductible, of course. my pal the taxman (government of canada) pays for a chunk of my gas. many people are protected by this fact.

    food prices are another issue!

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, I can’t cut back much more. I don’t do a lot of extra driving. I guess I’ll have to get used to the idea of $200 fill-ups (that’s if I don’t run the tank very low…).

  • avatar

    the sheer instability of gas prices means that fuel economy will figure very highly in my next car buying decision–although I don’t expect that for at least several years, maybe twice that. The ’99 Accord w/ stick is quite fuel efficient, but the specter of increasing demand and rising prices dictates prudence. (If I had a more profligate car, I’d probably look for an old VX now.)

    At $5-$6 a gallon, I might use my bicycle more, but most of my driving is discretionary as I work out of my house.

  • avatar

    The cost of buying a new car would not be worth it for me. Since I own my car free and clear, would not get much at trade in and any car that appeals to me would be at least $28k, gas would have to be in the $12 a gallon range before I change habits. Still, my next car will probably be smaller regardless. More like a Mazda5 size than a Sienna size.

  • avatar

    To Mr Chen: Our ’92 Mazda MPV got 21.5 mpg on the highway IF all the planets were aligned and I drove as if there was an egg on the accelerator pedal. I still have the MPV as last year I bought my wife a..
    ’07 Mazda5. 30 mpg at 80 mph on a long trip, handling, acceleration, steering and braking light-years ahead of the old MPV. Mileage naturally rises at lower highway speeds.
    The ’93 Probe GT gets 22–28 mpg, the ’99 Miata gets 26–32 mpg, and my 2 bikes get 42–50 mpg. I live 2.25 miles from work, so while I’m not fond of the higher fuel prices, it could always be worse.
    Considering its capabilities and fuel usage, the Mazda5 is an outstanding vehicle.

  • avatar

    fuel prices in Latvia- ( 23.05.2008) average nationwide- diesel- 8$ a gallon.
    92E- 95E( medium octane)- 7.85 dollars a gallon.
    98E( premium, high octane)- 7.95 dollars a gallon.
    Average salary nationwide- 470 dollars a month.
    Minimum salary-390 dollars a month.
    have people quit bying fuel? No, because it is indispensable!And for indispensable, irreplaceable items you can increase prices forever!

    You should see Michael Moore`s documentary `Sicko`. It shows analogy in the medical system!You can`t teach the greed to calm down. You must burn it out. We need blood, I know it is not christian, but there is no way to fight against people without morals, and abundancy of greed.

  • avatar

    Well, for the time being, the higher the cost of fuel the happier I am. It gets the big mammoth vehicles off the road, making me safer and vastly improving my visibility (especially in parking lots). I think I would be happy at 6 per gallon. Any higher and I’m not willing to pay extra to help keep annoying vehicles away from me.

  • avatar

    it was when gas hit 2.50 /gallon for reg unleaded (in Texas), i stopped driving and started bumming rides

  • avatar

    jurisb: And for indispensable, irreplaceable items you can increase prices forever!

    Then why isn’t oil one million dollars per barrel?

    Take the current price of oil, P, and multiply by 0.0006 and you get an approximation of the fraction of US GDP spent on the stuff. Right now, P=130 -> 8%. If oil rises to $400/bbl — which is about what $12/gal would mean — we get 24%.

    But like all stupid linear models in a chaotic world of incestuous interconnections, it’s likely this will never be hit, as people do what the market will tell them to do: conserve. But even if they don’t, the experience in other countries with prices currently double what the average USA is crying over demonstrate that this isn’t the end of the world.

    If anything, this is a tremendous opportunity. My advice is simple:

    1. If you are a doomer, put your money where you mouth is and commit suicide.

    2. If you feel the price is too high, stop spending. Buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. Invest in a future that does not include ‘evil’ oil companies.

    In short, get off your butt and do something. Complaints are as valuable as politicians promises.

  • avatar

    I’ve already reached my breaking point. My job is giving out free bus/rail passes to those who didn’t purchase a parking permit and I happened to be one of those lucky few. So I’ve purchased a bicycle and starting next month the car stays home during the work week while I take the bus and the rail and pay nothing.


    And to think, just over a week ago I was paying $3.69/gallon for regular and on my way in to work this morning, the price has already jumped to over $4.00/gallon…for regular!!

    Yup..the bicycle is definitely starting to look more attractive.

  • avatar

    MTeator :
    May 22nd, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    5 years ago 1 ounce of gold would have bought 239 gallons of gas.

    Today, 1 ounce of gold will buy 232 gallons of gas.

    The price of gas isn’t the problem :(

    Wow, that is so true! Thanks for sharing that. Our worthless paper money that is so easy to print.

  • avatar

    Rudiger: “Busbodger: “The upside to $12 gas is I could finally safely ride my bike to work b/c the roads will be empty.”

    That’s what I was thinking. I suspect there are a lot of people that would like to bike to work but, given current traffic congestion, it’s just too damn dangerous for most to even attempt. Maybe $12/gal gas will motivate local govts to construct more bike-safe routes.”

    If I were to bike to work, it would be about 7.5 miles, at least as the crow flies, and I could do that on the city side streets. However, like you said, I don’t want to joust with cell-phone distracted SUV drivers while I’m pumping away on my fahrrader…

    It’s bad enough when I’m in a 2800 pound car, it would be fatal on a bicycle.

    If the fuel price keeps going up, I will be looking long and hard about getting onto the bus (as we have no light rail here) and I guess I will have to pray that I don’t get stuck at the office late a lot. I’m a supervisor and work many odd hours, so the freedom a car brings is wonderful. You really appreciate it when you may have to do without it.

    Oh, BTW, $52.00 for 14 gallons last night.

  • avatar

    the real problem is that the dollar has dropped

    When how come gas has also gone up in other countries?

    As for my breaking point, we’ve already modified our driving habits. I’m only going into the office a few days a week, but I’m not sure how much more face time I can afford to lose with my colleagues.

    My 11-year-old car takes premium, so maybe I’ll swap with the spouse. I have no idea how public transportation would work from here (we’re in a subdivision, but not that far out, so I’m sure it exists). I’ve never ridden a motorcycle but I’m looking into that.

  • avatar

    The $15 surcharge to check a bag when flying is doing it for me. I will not fly an airline that has to surcharge to check a bag. When there is a added fee to pump the gas then I am done. As long as I pay a market price per gallon I am good to go until it takes all I have to fill the tank.

  • avatar

    Nonce, you ask why gas hasn’t gone up in other countries, if the dollar is the sole problem?

    The catch is, the dollar is not the “sole” problem. Gasoline and diesel prices have gone up in real terms worldwide.

    However, due to the US dollar being printed by the government as if it were monopoly money (in order to reduce the real value of holdings by our friends (?) in China, Japan, etc.) combined with the fact that most oil sold in the world is sold denominated in US dollars, the end result is that Americans are taking a far bigger price increase because it is our currency being devalued.

    A devalued currency means it takes more money to buy anything of true value, since the number of dollars is increasing while true things of value may not be increasing at all.

    In plain English, inflation of prices will (and is) resulting from this.

    All of this is to hide the fact that the United States is essentially bankrupt.*

    But then, all other nations in the world also using fiat currencies (based on “promises, promises” instead of the value of gold or silver in a safe, fully backing the currency) are on the same boat, and it’s sinking fast world-wide.

    * printing-press economies can be summed up by an example from 85 years ago and currently. Look up “hyperinflation” and “weimar republic” for 1923 and “zimbabwe” now.

    German survivors of the Weimar Republic’s hyperinflation of 1923-1924 recall that after a short while, hausfraus were going to get husband’s wages twice a day in wheelbarrows – literally stacked with money – and spending it straight away as prices went up by the hour. Literally.

    By 1924, it was so bad that no amount of money was enough to buy food which was no longer on store shelves. Kind of like zimbabwe now.

  • avatar

    menno has part of the problem identified, again, though, only about 30-40% of the rise is due to the devalued dollar; the rest is shared by the rest of the world too.

    And part of the reason the dollar is finally devaluing is that this war we’re in was ‘financed’ with tax cuts. Meaning taxes have to go way up in the future, or we need to inflate our way out of the debt incurred. Guess which one the market finally started believing in?

  • avatar

    I sat down one day and did a quick analysis of my gas consumption in Excel. I bought a motorcycle (for fun, great mpg is just an added benefit) and wanted to see if I could save anything.

    I use 1 Tank a week in a car that has a 20 gallon tank and gets roughly 22mpg combined. So for every dollar gas goes up is costs me $80 more a month. Basically I figured on gas going up $1 every year. So every year I’ll be paying (80 x 12) = $960 more than the year previously. I realize this is rough, but I figure a dollar more a year is a good average. The first few months will be tens of cents more, where the end of the year may be a dollar plus more – year on average: a buck.

    If 2008 averages out to a $4 per gallon year I will have spent ($4 x 20 gallons x 52 weeks) about $4,200 on gas. (With each additional year adding about $1000 to that total.)

    If a Hybrid / more economical car can get me double that mileage (44 combined) it would half my cost of gas per year. This year I would have saved (4200/2) $2100 and each year after an additional $500 on top of that.

    To me, it’s not worth it (yet) to go out and spend the loot and get that fuel efficient car. When the car will pay for itself (or at least its premium) I’ll consider it. It’s getting close though and I DEFINITELY am chaining trips and cutting back on unnecessary driving.

    Oh – and the motorcycle… that’ll save me about $800 a year. Driving it 3 days a week for 5 riding months. That’s NOT all from gas though. Most of it comes from the free parking.

  • avatar

    Re: my assertion that inflation is getting rampant, and how it is largely due to rampant printing-press of monopoly money known as the US dollar (and my assertion that other nations are soon to follow our destructive path), here’s a quote from Thursday’s Daily Reckoning:

    “A news story in the Financial Times tells us something very interesting. “The gap between input prices and what can be passed on to consumers is at its widest for 20 years.” For example, a 4-pint bottle of milk has gone up 16.5% in the United Kingdom. The price of milk from the farm has soared nearly three times as much – 45.8%. Or take bread. Wheat is up 56.9% over the last year. But a loaf of bread has only gone up only 8.5%. Crude oil is 62% more expensive today than it was a year ago. But a can of oil…or petroleum products generally, at the retail level…are up only 25.4%.

    What does this mean? Probably two things. Maybe more. First, input prices have jumped so fast retail prices have not been able to keep up. It may also mean that retailers don’t think the raw output prices are permanent…or that they, the retailers, can afford to pass them along without losing customers. It may also mean that commodity or wholesale prices have gone up too far, too fast.

    One thing is certain, the gap can’t last. The retailers can’t buy oil 62% higher and sell it only 25% higher – not for long. Either the price of crude comes down…or the price of retail petroleum products goes up.”

  • avatar

    Speedlaw had it right: This is a currency problem, not a commodity price problem. The US dollar is losing value faster than a Hummer being driven off the lot.

    As for the question: My breaking point was $3 a gallon. When it got there a while ago I started the project out in my barn to homebrew fuel. I drive Diesels so I have that option.

    I still buy a few tanks of premium a year for the classic car, and since my daily driver uses fuel I make myself I don’t mind paying whatever it costs for that ride… I put less than 3,000 miles per year on the old car. But I could see parking it semi-permanently if gasoline were to go up to $10 a gallon.


  • avatar

    However, due to the US dollar being printed by the government as if it were monopoly money (in order to reduce the real value of holdings by our friends (?) in China, Japan, etc.) combined with the fact that most oil sold in the world is sold denominated in US dollars, the end result is that Americans are taking a far bigger price increase because it is our currency being devalued.

    I’m sorry, but this is just flat wrong.

    Point of comparison: In January 2005, the M1 money supply (the sum total of cash, traveler’s checks and demand deposits) was $1,366.0 billion. In April 2008, that figure was $1,367.6 billion, which means that it increased by 0.12%.

    So, no, you can’t claim that the Fed is pumping out cash like it’s going out of style when it went up by 1/8th of a percent over 13 quarters.

    There is no data whatsoever to support this “fiat money” argument. The dollar has a floating exchange rate, so the market determines the value of the dollar.

    Obviously, the market doesn’t feel so good about the US dollar at the moment. When you understand why investors have traditionally believed in the dollar and why their belief might be shaken as of late, then you’ll be closer to figuring out what’s going on here, and why the printing money has absolutely nothing to do with it. Change the policies that provoke investor pessimism, and it will become clear what needs to be done to strengthen the dollar.

  • avatar

    Well you guys need to come across to the good old UK to realise how cheap your fuel is in comparison to rip off Britain. To fill my Audi A3 now costs me around £70 or in your money $140 – some are prediciting that within the next year that a tank of fuel will cost me over $200.

    In the UK over 70% of this cost is tax – the Government keeps hitting on the car owners under the ‘environmental’ banner. They have just postponed a 2p per litre increase until September as I am sure they can sense a groundswell of anger at the way the car owners are seen as an easy target.

    I am sick of it to be honest – what are the alternatives when only the large cities have what could be described as a joined together public transport system (actually probably only in London and even then….).

    Time to stand up and say enough is enough…..

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