By on February 3, 2011

Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, one of the biggest auto retail chains in the country, argues [via Bloomberg] that lower inventories and more-efficient offerings have prepared the US auto industry for higher gas prices. As a result

Consumers are signaling it will take higher gasoline prices than the worst of 2008 to curb new- vehicle sales… The “freak-out number” at the gas pump is likely about $4.50 a gallon for unleaded regular

“A dramatic spike is not good for economy and not good for our industry, but we’re better prepared for it than we were in summer 2008,” said Jackson, 61. “Even though we’ve moved 40 to 60 cents higher at the pump in the past three months, we haven’t seen any change in consumer behavior.”

Interesting theory… but does it hold up for you? What are your “freak-out numbers,” and what will you do when gas prices hit them?

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108 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What Is Your “Freak Out” Gas Price?...”


  • avatar
    redliner

    One dollar, Bob.

  • avatar

    $4: Feelin’ squirrelly.
     
    $5: Andalé Panic Attack!

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Can’t get high enough soon enough to suit me. Economics is the only force that will get people out of their gas-guzzling, planet-destroying roadhogs.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Move to South-East Asia man, and leave in peace with yourself among rikshas and mopeds. And save us from your hate too.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      And yet your icon is of a gas-guzzling, planet-destroying roadhog.
       
      Just for your sense of irony, I am going to find a traffic jam so my F-150’s V8 can idle away the hours.

    • 0 avatar
      Jedchev

      I find it strange that you rail against big gas guzzlers, yet your identity is a 1960 Chrysler. Props for picking such a great car. With the crossram induction, city mpg was well under 10.

    • 0 avatar
      Steinweg

      This is one car enthusiast who will give an amen to that. And let me add, that petroleum oil is some useful stuff and it’s bloody stupid the rate at which we’re consuming it when you consider how hard it will be to replace in many applications. A hundred years from now when oil is legitimately $1000 a barrel cause it’s so scarce, folks aren’t going to look back on their idiot forebears, who drove an Escalade or even an Explorer to work, by themself, every day and say “Thanks Great-Grand-Dad.” They’re gonna say “Cripes you jackass! Why did you waste it all and leave me nothing?” The reason it’s wasted is it’s priced too low, or people are too dumb, or some combination of those two things.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    “My freakout number is probably $5.00,” said cwallace, 37.  “Going from ‘freakout’ to ‘substantially changing my commute’ would have to be twice that.”  At a tenner per gallon, I’ll ride my old two-stroke Vespa to work.  There will be a lot fewer cars to contend with.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    The corollary has been watching all the warmists, nannys, car haters and Puritans who have been freaking out for decades while the American public has been motoring along happily due to “too low” gas prices.
     
    Driving is a political act and feels even better when it is done, to quote Chuck Berry, “with no particular place to go…”

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Exactly.
       
      And I firmly believe Americans will pay anything for a gallon of gas, because driving freedom is our very heartbeat.  Remove that, and you’ll have armed revolution.  [The Chevy tagwords are mere coincidence.]

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Nothing political about it; mass recreation is one of those things you can thank all the big bad unions for helping to provide.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    If it gets too high, I start working from home.

  • avatar
    cronus

    $3 = V8
    $5 = 4 cyl
    $6 = Hybrid
    $8 = Electric
    For me it’s not a freak out point but more of a freak out curve.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      I like that curve but for me I have a Saturn 4 cyl and a Toyota hybrid already so my curve for a two car household is something like
       
      $3 = 4 cyl + Hybrid
      $5 = 4 cyl + Hybrid
      $7 = 4 cyl + Hybrid
      $9 = Hybrid + Hybrid
      $11 = Plugin Hybrid (conversion) + Hybrid
      $13 = Plugin Hybrid (conversion) + Hybrid
      $15 = Plugin Hybrid (conversion) + Plugin Hybrid (conversion)
       
      I can’t afford to replace either of my cars right now. I’d drive slower to save gas if the price rose (yes I’d hypermile more than I do now).
       
      My 4 cyl Saturn is a late 90s model. My Toyota hybrid is a 2005 model. Odds are it’ll be 2015 before I replace the Saturn with another Hybrid assuming it will hold out that long and no accidents force my hand. It’d take cheap electric vehicles on the used marked or one so cheap it competes with a 3-5 year old hybrid on initial price before I could afford one.
       
      And for the conversions I’d probably stick with Gen II Prius plugin conversions. I have 110 outlets in the center of the garage between the two spaces. The cars sit enough that I wouldn’t need to put in a fast charger.
       

  • avatar
    Monty

    My freak out is every time I fill my truck with it’s 35 gallon tank.

  • avatar
    frazgo

    My freak out point was $4.50.  In summer of 2008 we proceeded to start dumping the gas guzzlers for more economical cars. IE Dropped the old panther based v8 for a V6 for starters. The new point for me is more like cronus with a sliding curve.  Once we breach 4.50 will curtail some driving, at $6 a lot of driving will be switched out in favor of LA’s crappy mass transit.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    When it gets past 25% of my hourly wage. Which is what gas was when I was in high-school. $1/gal when I made $4/hr. And my ’82 Subaru got 30mpg at best.

    Gas can’t get high enough fast enough for me. $8/gal – bring it on! I will thoroughly enjoy having a lot fewer lumbering behemoth SUVs in my way, and a lot more rational choices in new cars available. I would have been perfectly content with a 1.8T Saab or BMW 320i or 320D as sold in Europe, plenty fast enough. I hate paying for the upper 50hp that I pretty much never use except when goofing around.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      A bit selfish there aren’t you?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Never said I wasn’t. It IS all about me.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      krhodes1 – “Gas can’t get high enough fast enough for me. $8/gal – bring it on!”

      Yes, because high gas prices will only affect the lumbering behemoth SUV’s.  I guess the price spikes in 2008 on everything from basic staples to construction materials that ground the economy to a schreeching halt were imaginary?

    • 0 avatar

      @1996MEdition
      No kidding. I’m not sure why people don’t get that. One of the elements of Cost of Goods Sold is transportation. Gas prices go up, EVERYTHING goes up. Don’t get me wrong, I agree in principle with posters who wish that there were fewer SUV’s on the road. But as is often the case, there is also a law of unintended consequences in effect here.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Don’t most transport vehicles use Diesel oil rather than gasoline?  I can’t recall ever seeing a gas-powered cargo ship, train, or 18-wheeler.
       
      I live 1 mile from work, 1 mile from the grocery spigot, 5 miles from downtown, 10 miles from several great spots for outdoor recreation, and don’t really need to go anywhere else on a regular basis.  Also I live in a warm climate, drive a fun 30 mpg car, and have a motorcycle that gets 50+ mpg.
       
      $10+ a gallon?  Bring it on.

    • 0 avatar

      @bikegoesbaa
      I’m really glad that you’re so well insulated from gas price increases. Really I am. I share your love of motorcycles, and I too drive a car which gets right around 30mpg on the highway. The thing is, if you think that everything else will remain the same, just with higher prices at the pump, you’re seriously misinformed (or deluded). Gas prices are rooted in crude oil prices, which is where diesel fuel originates as well.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Krhodes, even if it is all about you, you don’t have the right to choose for anyone else how they live or what they drive. All about you means that you live the way you want and let others do the same. It doesn’t mean that you are enlightened and are qualified to make choices for others.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Of course gasoline and Diesel prices are related, but I can imagine many circumstances where the price of one would spike largely independent of the other – especially in the short term.
       
      I’d be interested to see how much of the cost of consumer goods is driven by transportation costs, I expect it’s not a major contributor in most cases.  Even if it is, and an increase in fuel costs drives the price of literally everything on the store shelves up by 10% I’m still a long way from “freaking out”.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      MikeAR:It doesn’t mean that you are enlightened and are qualified to make choices for others.
       
      No, but it does mean that I’m going to laugh myself stupid when I see a guy with a 40 mile commute who bought an H2 or pickup truck as a fashion statement paying $300 for a fillup.  Every.  Single.  Week.

      Sure, he has every right to drive the thing. And I have every right to be entirely unsympathetic to his self-inflicted problem.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      Sure, he has every right to drive the thing. And I have every right to be entirely unsympathetic to his self-inflicted problem.
       
      That would be a wholly reasonable response were $300 fill ups a self-inflicted problem.

      The $300 fill up is nowhere in sight.  What we have is the concept of a $100 fill up with $200 in taxes on top.  And the liberal know it alls here are salivating at the idea of inflicting that on their neighbors.
       
      Envy is not a virtue.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Higher price of gas means EVERYONE gets more rational about thier choices. Europe manages just fine at $8-9 per gallon, probably over $10 this summer. That means they develop rational transportation strategies. Very little frieght (relatively speaking) is DRIVEN across Europe for example. And people don’t drive 5000lb pickup trucks 50 miles each way to work. But you certainly could if you wanted to and can afford it!

      Me, I already made the rational choice to buy relatively fuel efficient cars, found a job where I work from home when I am not travelling on someone else’s dime, and bought a small, energy efficient house. And I choose not to have children. You can do what you want, drive a Suburban, live in a McMansion 50 miles from nowhere, have a dozen kids, whatever. But you will get zero sympathy from me when the price of fuel goes up. I’ll probably just be laughing at you. Choice, it’s the American way!

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’d say above $5.50 is when I’d freak out. I rarely purchase more than 9 gallons of fuel (my tank doesn’t hold much more) at a time, and at $5.50, i’d be paying $49.50 for a fill-up…which is dangerously close to the $50 I’d prefer to never pay. The most I’ve ever paid for a tank is about $40.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Filling up my truck would probably put you into shock. Hint: two tanks. $50 is a light load. Fortunately I don’t need it often enough to have to fill it much more than once a month.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The higher it goes the better. Less traffic mean less stop light time and I don’t have pickups blocking my view. When it nears $4 most single rider trucks are off the highway in Ohio. :)

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    I think $4 is my freak-out number. It would then be time to buy a soap-box racer to commute in.

  • avatar

    I firmly believe I will be paying $5 for 93, this summer.
     
    6 wouldn’t shock me but that is my freak out number.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I really don’t have a “freak-out” number. We paid $4.09/gal in 2008 at the gas spike’s peak on a trip to St. Louis. After hurricane Ike blasted through Cincinnati in September and blew everything down (all wind for 4 hours, no rain and then no power!), I paid $4.23 for premium at BP near work because they were out of everything else and they were the only station open in the area and my car was close to sniffing fumes. Fill’er up! $48.00! I would cut back on other stuff. My wife’s company moved, so she’s only 5 miles from work instead of 13. Me? Well, right now it’s 21 each way, soon to be 46(!) one way if I can’t find anything else, and I’m 60, so who’s hiring me? I hunker down and make the commute, trying to get as much life out of my aging Impala as I can, driving my Miata on occasion as well. It’s the price of living. You deal with it. I’d dump cable in a heartbeat, but keep internet at all costs. Cancel cell phones. Cancel gym membership, cancel food suppliments, stuff like that – if my wife agrees – remember, if your wife’s not happy, you won’t be happy, either! It took me all of 15 minutes to learn that simple fact of life!

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    America’s freak-out price: $5-6 / gallon
     
    Mine personally: $20 / gallon
     
    I fill up maybe once a month. I live in a fairly urban environment. I walk or take public transportation a lot of the time. I really like it. No traffic, no parking, no having to fire up a gas-burning 3000 lb machine just to go anywhere. My next vehicle purchase will probably be one of those Xootr kick-scooters. (I’ll still keep my car, of course.)
     
    If my multi-family loft building offered EV chargers in the covered garage, I’d probably be a prime candidate for the Nissan Leaf.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      If we get to $20/gallon, you’ll have to tell me how your grocery prices, mass transit prices, overnight shipping prices, power prices… essentially everything you consume is impacted by that price point.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Interesting… With the stated acceptable limits it seems people assume that everything else will stay the same, from your jobs security to the price of basic foods – and all numerous factors between.
    Get real, folks. When the price hits that high (5-7-20…), you’ll be most likely out of job and spend your day lining for food with Govt-issued coupons in hand.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      Really good point. There is a lot more connected to the price of fuel than just the how much it hurts you to fill up. The majority of freight is moved on combustion power (directly or not), which means the cost of everything from groceries to shoelaces depends on the price of oil.

  • avatar
    erik_t

    Ten or fifteen bucks a gallon would probably affect my driving habits. Nothing before that. I probably fill up monthly.

  • avatar
    findude

    I think the good ol’ USA really needs much higher gas prices.  I passed my freak-out point when gas first crossed $3.00/gallon and we deliberately shifted to buying cars that get better mileage, reduced discretionary driving, and sought shorter commutes.  I suspect the public’s freak-out point is somewhere around $8.00/gallon and it won’t come soon enough for me.
     
    Oil is essentially a finite resource and I’ve read enough about peak oil, the export land model, the emergence of the middle class in the BRIC countries, etc. to believe the party will be over soon. Yes, I can do little things like adjust my own consumption.  Little things add up, but they’ve got nothing on big things when it comes to adding up the way it counts.  $8.00/gallon will seriously change the way Americans approach personal transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Economist Julian Simon essentially gutted the arguments of Malthusian and Paul Ehrlick “all resources are running out” types.
      We drill in areas and at depths they hadn’t dreamed of in the 70’s (when we were running out of oil in 30 years – according to so-call experts). We’ll find more oil – or China, India, Canada, and Brazil will…

    • 0 avatar
      erik_t

      That’s great, but the Earth will continue to not get any larger. Oil is a finite resource, consumed many many orders of magnitude faster than it is replenished. Whether we run out tomorrow or two hundred years from now, we will run out (or rather, extraction costs will become so high that it is effectively gone).

  • avatar
    britnusa

    My folks back home in the UK are paying the equivalent of $9 a gallon, so for the love of God, quit whining. You have no idea how lucky we are to have super cheap gas over here, trust me it will get a lot worse. Can you say TDi.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I’d consider freaking out when the price of fuel gets so high that crop production and food supplies are seriously reduced.  Given the recent boost in natural gas supplies, this probably won’t happen soon.

  • avatar
    JMII

    $4 is the ummmm this sucks level, sure glad my daily driver is a turbo 4 banger
    $5 is the why, oh why did I sell my 30mpg 1985 Civic S hatchback
    $6 is the I can’t afford to drive my truck on weekends anymore
    $8 is the I can’t afford to fill up my boat level… at which point things get ugly
    $10 is the point where I memorize the train schedule and stop driving to work
     
    I fully expect over $4 this summer, the threat of a gulf hurricane will pretty much guarantee this.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’m retired so it’s pretty much a WGAS for me.  I can reduce my driving if needed to offset costs.
    But my college educated but underemployed offspring really start to quiver around $4/gal.
    America is facing a diminished standard of living.  This is going to be part of it.
    Imagine running for POTUS on a platform of four more years of 9% unemployment and $4 gas?

  • avatar
    twotone

    Living and working in Amsterdam, I paid $10/gallon for gas and $10/gram for….oh, never mind.

  • avatar
    turtletop

    I pretty much had my freak out when gasoline topped $3 per gallon in my neck of the woods, what was that, 4 or 5 years ago now? It’s what finally got me out of my beloved big block sleds. ’65 Olds Ninety Eight with the 425 high compression mill, it’s been nice knowing you. I sold it that very week. My inner gearhead is sad to this very day, but part of the art of living is knowing when it’s time to leave a party.
     
    Now, I just won’t consider any car that does anything less than 20 MPG city, 30 highway, and if I ever spring for a new ride, it’ll have to do at least 40 MPG highway. Other than that, I feel like I’m about as ready as I’m ever going to be for higher fuel prices.
     
    This issue is why I chose to live in a city and just deal with its pitfalls and annoyances: I can get to my job by bicycle if needed or even walk if I absolutely have to. I can’t see how being out in a far-flung suburb will be anything but a little piece of hell when the U.S. starts paying what the rest of the world does for fuel. Even if you work from home, you will still want to get out of the house and buy groceries, tote the kids around, socialize, etc. But, to each his own.
     
    In my dream world, we in the U.S. would have eased in to more efficient forms of transport over the last 40 years or so. A modern intermodal rail system for both passengers and freight would have been a good start, as just one example. But, as is often the case, it will take a crisis to finally motivate us into action.
     
    The time to pay the piper for sprawl, SUVs and no effective alternative to the automobile is coming, and it’s later than we think. The optimist in me thinks we’ll be able to pull ourselves out of this mess, but frankly, I’m still peeved that we’re not ready now… all those years to prepare, utterly pissed away.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My freak-out number is greatly changed from 2008.  Then, I was driving 30,000 – 32,000 miles per year, consuming 1,400 to 1,500 gallons per year.  So, a $1/gallon increase really knocked me back!  Going from $2.20 to $3.20 back then was a bitch.  Now, however, I will be driving about 6,000 to 7,000 miles and burning 342 gallons in the process.

    So, my current “Oh, shyte, Oh, dear!” price on gas is probably $5 per gallon, where my previous was $3.75 – $4.00….but what chaps my ass about it is that it is all due to hype and our dear TaxPro Timmy Giethner’s Genius keep-the-money-printing presses going $600 Billion dollar inflate-us-out-of-debt project. 

    This planet literally has more oil stored in tanker ships than we do having tankers moving the oil back and forth.  In othr words, an oil GLUT! 

    Current tax policy and trading rules allow a small group of fear-mongering speculators to manipulate the price of oil upwards at a whim with little risk.  No accident that EXXON reported record profits on the same day oil went north to $95 per barrel on the egyptian fears.  By the estimation of some well-respected economists, we are paying a premium of $60 to $70 per barrel on the speculator hype factor, which is at least $1 per gallon of gas.

    There are really no purely fundamental reasons why oil and gas are what they are….the price is set by hype, hysteria, manipulation and economic politics.   And we as Americans voted for this.  In short, if you voted for Obama, you got no right to bitch about the price of ANYTHING going up, let alone gasoline and fuel. 

    And don’t even get me started on the current green-ass liberal government refusal to open up the ANWR for exploration and drilling…..

    Please don’t insult your own intelligence by ranting back at me to ‘Stop listening to Faux News.’ I read dozens of blogs daily from both sides of the political spectrum, and supposedly politically neutral economics and industry blogs as well. As Winston Churchill famously said, “If you aren’t Liberal at age 20, you have no heart. If you aren’t Conservative by age 30, you have no brain.” My IQ is 140+ and I’ll run rings around your peurile arguments.

    Plain facts: We pay too much for oil and gasoline in the USA. This is because our politicians are stupid and lazy, our voters are stupid and lazy, our regulators are incompetent and corrupt, our voters would rather watch American Idol rather than pay attention to political matters. Dispute these at your own peril.
     

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Tax cuts? War of choice? Medicare part D?
       
      Ring a bell, smart guy?

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Mark,
       
      There is no fiscal conservative party anymore.  The Reps support ridiculous amounts of gov’t spending, and the Dems support that plus more.  Until we get serious about bumping the age of Social Security (when it was created, the average person lived 2 yrs beyond eligibility – now, it’s closer to 15 yrs) and cutting defense, we’re just pissing in the wind.
       
      Neither party has the stones to do what is needed.
       
      And that’s why I loves me some V8!

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      And at the end of the day a bully is just a scared child on the inside, real name or not.

    • 0 avatar
      Buzz Killington

      “This planet literally has more oil stored in tanker ships than we do having tankers moving the oil back and forth.  In othr words, an oil GLUT!” 
      “And don’t even get me started on the current green-ass liberal government refusal to open up the ANWR for exploration and drilling…..”

      well, which is it?  if we have an “oil glut,” how is drilling in ANWR going to help?

      you have some valid points on the cause of price changes, but all of those things were just as true in 2006 as they are in 2011.

    • 0 avatar

      Your IQ does not reflect your stupidity if you think the Republicans or Democrats give a damn about anything but their own wallets.

      Go babble somewhere else like Rush Limbaugh’s talk show.

    • 0 avatar
      MoppyMop

      IQ is “140+” and he can’t spell “puerile”?  Looks like somebody took one of those online tests that give everybody a high score so they can try to sell you a certificate.
       

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    91 octane in Vancouver BC: $5.02 USD/Gallon. 27mpg. It hurts.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      4 or so USD in Cowtown.
      HST and Carbon tax be damned! Oh, and while we are on it, please get rid of all those hobos and drug junkies in Vancouver. Otherwise it looks like a beauty contest winner -with dirty underwear and stinky armpits.
       

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    At about $10 per gallon, I would not go to the racetrack as often to drive my M3.

    We already consume so little fuel that doubling in price from now would not have much impact.  I learned from my driving career that the price of fuel is volatile, so always buy the highest mpg vehicle available that solves 95% of your transport needs.  That extra 5% (carrying a 6th person once per month for 10 minutes; or making one trip to the dump per year) can double or even triple your annual fuel consumption.  If you underbuy as I do, you just find ways to avoid the 5% functionality you cut from your list of needs.  Has worked perfectly for 25 years.  Had to rent a minivan once, and had to hire someone to make a dump run for me here and there.  A $150 trailer hitch would have solved that one.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Add comment:  Ask not what our freak-out price for gas is, ask GM, Chrysisler and Ford, who are still making profits mostly off of SUV’s and big cars (“I’m looking at YOU, new Ford Explorer, F-150 and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler Hemi-V8 Challenger and 300.  And you, too, Mustang and Camaro.”)  At north of $4.00 per gallon, disposable income for car purchases starts to become really scarce again, workers who have just been hired are sent packing, sales dump back to the 8 million ASR level again, the housing price valley becomes a canyon, and the whole damned country slides back into the mother of all double-dip recessions…..game, set, match to China.  Thanks, Timmy Geithner.  Thanks Barrack. 

  • avatar
    geozinger

    ‘ “A dramatic spike is not good for economy and not good for our industry, but we’re better prepared for it than we were in summer 2008,” said Jackson, 61.” ‘
    Why do they list the interviewee’s age on these kinds of quotes? Is it to keep us from assuming that he’s (the now dead) Michael Jackson, of “Billie Jean” fame?
     
    The last time gasoline was $4.25 was bad enough for me. $55.00+ was pretty tough to swallow, even if it’s every 17 days or so. Since then, I’ve been driving even less. I don’t think I will break 8,000 miles this year.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    My personal freak out point would have to be well north of anything that I’ve seen so far, which is about $4/gal here in the midwest. I started to get religion back in 2005 with the post-Katrina spike and have been more thoughtful about driving and driving decisions ever since, so the gradual rise that we’ve seen in the last few months hasn’t been too shocking.

    As to Jackson’s point, I expect to see the frog in hot water effect: as long as prices move gradually without spikes that become a media obsession, a general freak out won’t happen until $5/gal or more. Altho even at that price, people over-react to gas price increases. If you do the math, a $1/gal increase, while painful, isn’t devastating for most of us, and can usually be moderated by thoughtful trip planning and gentle driving. But since people are bombarded by gas prices every time they drive, it seeps deeply into the public psyche and leads to irrational panic.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Anything over $3.00 per gallon is pure greed and speculation as there are plenty of oil supplies for demand right now. 4.00 per gallon gas will have me repeat what I did in 2008, walk or ride bike to work, put up the Trans AM show car and only drive one or two times during the Summer and drastically cut back my driving, idling, eating habits. I will stay in more and do home repairs instead. 

    • 0 avatar

      What oil is left in the ground is deeper, lower grade, and harder to find. It is not just about availability but the cost to recover it that affects fuel prices. Political instability, growing populations, and environmental concerns all have added to the cost of production and recovery in one manner or another. Anger may be the wrong sentiment. One should realize it is a product of limited supply and does more than power our vehicles. Its use is destroying our planet and anyone under 40 will have to live through the detrimental effects of our consumption in their lifetime.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

     
    I don’t know that I have a particular freak out price.  More disturbing would be the not available at any price scenario,  I am much more dependent on a car now than I was during the gas shocks of the 1970s.   I suppose  I would freak out at the $10/gal range, not that I couldn’t afford the gas I absolutely needed at that price, but at the economic impact on everything else.

  • avatar

    If by “freakout” you mean “invest heavily in guns and MREs”, I’m thinking somewhere in the $8-10/gallon area.
    Thats when driving, and therefore working, and therefore keeping shelter becomes near as dammit impossible for most everyone. Ever wanted to see a whole nation go feral?

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    My payments are done in May and I don’t plan on having a car payment again untill post July 2012 – my wedding date.  Now if gas goes up above $5.00 per gallon and stays there for say 6 months I can swing another car payment and find something more fuel efficent.  I’m driving an F150 cause my commute is not long and when the vehicle was purchased, it was not intended to be a commuter vehicle, but a divorce will do that to you. 

    I do however agree with the posters who believe that Americans will pay almost anything for gas cause of the “freedom factor.”  But perhaps it will get some of my fellow Gallup-ians into Escapes and out of Expeditons. 

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I used to commute about 90 miles a day. I now work from home.
    My wife currently commutes about 100 miles a day. We are looking at apartments that are a snowball’s throw from her office.

  • avatar
    srh

    Around $6/gallon I’ll buy a more fuel-efficient car next time around (in a few years). At about $8/gallon I’ll change my driving habits. I currently put on about 25k miles/year, I could probably halve that without too much trouble. Over $10/gallon and I’ll severely curtail my driving to necessities.
    Like a few other posters, I believe that gas prices /should/ rise. Consumers and drivers right now are getting a ‘free ride’ by not fully paying for the externalities caused by our gas usage.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Increased frugality at many levels around the shanty while reveling in the horde of ill-educated hillbillies who purposefully excess-noise-producing habits are self-curtailed by the cost of producing that internally combusted noise.
    Buncha’ redneck hicks.
     
     

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    I happily pay $4.65/gal for 100 octane leaded for my 69 Lincoln, but it doesn’t get driven that much. Luckily, I live in a part of the country where there’s great public transportation and I use my gas guzzlers on weekends. Freak out would be $8.00. I still would keep my big cars, because then I really wouldn’t have any money for payments.

  • avatar
    Garak

    If gas goes above 2e per liter, it’s time to freak out. Currently we’re at about 1.5e, that’s something like 8 dollars per gallon.

  • avatar
    colin42

    For me it was about £1/ltr (2007) at which point i left the country! (We’ll my move to the US wasn’t really driven by fuel price but it sound more interesting that way).

    Back in 08 I always like to point out to my American friends that at $4.20 /gal (the max it hit in Indiana) and at the then USD to GBP exchange rate of 2.0 gas was still cheaper than it was back in 97 when i started driving in the UK

    $4.20/gal  = £0.55/ltr

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Everyone please quit whining. In the UK gas prices are averaging around £1.28 per litre at the moment… lets do the math….
      1 US Gallon = 3.78 litres
      3.78 x £1.28 = £4.84

      £4.84 = USD 7.82 per gallon

      Until prices get that bad I won’t be complaining.
      I currently live in Vancouver BC which probably has some of the most expensive gas in North American at CAD 1.23 a litre… meaning a gallon sets you back about USD 4.70 – and thats still not bad by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Yeah, well, we on this side of the Atlantic have so far managaed to minimize the imposition of social engineering via punative taxation. Not that there aren’t plenty of people agitating to have the government force their neighbors to behave the way they believe they should.
       
      Anybody who wants to don a hair shirt and voluntarily send the IRS a check to match the amount they spend on every fillup is welcome to do so. Stop demanding that I should want to.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      I’m not saying that anyone should follow quasi-socialist political system in the UK as it’s really quite broken, and is one of the reasons I now live on this side of the Atlantic. 
      But I really do think North America should brace itself as I get the feeling that even $4.50 per gallon is far less than what we’ll end up paying in several years time.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Steven65
       
      + 1

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    My “freak out” gas price is $5 per gallon.  At that price, I will drastically change my driving habits.  However, the price of gas has little effect on my car purchase as even at $5 per gallon the cost of fuel is a minor consideration compared to the cost of the vehicle.  If I’m going to be spending $20,000 or more on a car, my number one priority is that I enjoy driving it, not how much I will spend on fuel over the life of the vehicle.  But, my commute is only 5 miles each way, and I could start riding a bike, at least during nice weather, if I needed to and only using the car for trips to the store once a week and for vacations.  I could see fuel price woudl eb a big consideration for somebody who drives 50 or more miles everyday to and from work (like two of my brother-in-laws do).

  • avatar
    Lord Bodak

    It’s going to have to go up quite a bit before the cost of gas on its own really bothers me.  I fill up about once every 10 days, with an 18.5 gallon tank and a commute of ~40 miles/day round trip.  So I’m using, on average, 1.85 gallons per day.  An increase of about $2 from what I’m paying now would mean I’m paying an extra $3.70/day.  Most people spend more than that on their morning Starbucks.  A $3 increase pushes it to $5.55/day, which is about the cost of a fast foot lunch.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    I freaked out three years ago at $4 a gallon.  Since then I’ve gotten insulated to the shock; I could see it coming back.
     
    I’m well protected in my OWN life:  a 35-mpg car; two bikes, one of which gets 70 mpg.   But that’s not the POINT:  Everything we use, everything we buy, is made with and shipped with and stored and retailed with the aid of petroleum.  When the price rises, the cost of LIVING rises proportionately.
     
    FWIW…I take exception to that “extra 50 horsepower” comment.  My gas-miser doesn’t HAVE that fifty extra horses, and I miss it at every stoplight in traffic.

  • avatar

    “Freak out” price is US$10 per gallon and Soylent Green coupons.

    Change what I drive, how I drive, and how often I drive is around US$5.

    Never thought I would consider a Hyundai Elantra LE but 35mpg average may be required if things keep moving steadily upward as I predict and my new job is 84 miles round trip.

  • avatar
    wsn

    I have quite some BP shares (from the leaking days) and some other oil stocks. I would be OK as long as gas doesn’t hit $30/gallon (by which time oil stocks dividends would probably lag behind gas price increase).

  • avatar
    HWould

    I have no concern for cost per gallon because it’s what I choose for myself.  I spend at least 30% of my waking hours in my vehicle, so I prefer to do so in comfort.  If a larger vehicle that offers little in the way of mpg suits me, then I just consider it a luxury benefit of my hours spent working.

  • avatar
    DearS

    18mpg, that is the price I pay for driving an affordable, reliable, fun to drive, safe, advanced, comfy, mid sized, RWD, and rigid car. (E34 525i). Atleast mine does not require premium. Although what am I to use, a 24mpg Accord? That saves me about $600 dollars a year right now. I’d love to have an extra $600 bucks a year, but changing cars would cost me much more than that, makes more sense to drive my car into the ground, then buy a G20/Accord/Civic later.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    $7.50 per gallon. At that price, one of our cars will be replaced with a used VW TDI, poor VW reliability be damned.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    No freak at point here, because someone else pays my gas, but really people who want really high gas do not get it, I drive 27,000 a year, work for a food company they pay for my gas, I run my car into the ground far trade off for me, when gas gets to Europe level they will pay the going rate no doubt because they want me to drive rather than fly and have to rent a car anyway, but the cost of goods for food …. will go up no way around it, I work for a European co so I guess $10 a gallon would scare them and me, but I the fill side at @ $10 there would be way less traffic fro me to sit in and waste gas, I drive a car that is only OK on gas because that is what I have now when I replace it I would go for something somewhat better on gas, but it is what it is, higher gas is just the cost of doing business for those of us who drive for a living. hey it is cheaper than the $200 bucks a month that I pay for my cell phone.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    This makes me feel old.

    I remember sending Robert Farago a spreadsheet after one of these strings floated a while ago, and the sheet showed tables illustrating monthly cost based on X miles per year times Y MPG at Z dollars per gallon, with X, Y, Z all input fields and the rest read only. We compared my friend’s homebuilt, modern big block AWD 1967 Camaro (serious engineering) to a Lupo and everything in between.

    It showed the fuel expense differential of vehicles and then showed how much car that would buy at A price, B down payment, C interest rate and D term. A, B, C, and D all input fields.

    If I remember correctly, it showed that by driving a financed Audi A4, base model, at 20k per year which I drive, at 30 mpg which I get, at $4 per gallon which I was paying, if it remember correctly, instead of some 12 mpg Expedition etc (I ride alone), the gas savings paid for the entire car plus some free gas money.

    It showed a sweet spot around 25 mpg, given 20k per year, and a range from 12 mpg to 70. Above 25 mph the savings dropped off fast, below which the savings were acute. Moving from 60 mpg to 70 mpg was like no money per month. Move from 12 to 18 and save a lot.

    Farago acknowledged, but seems to have never used the thing in an article.

    I will see if I still have the sheet and send it along to TTAC mgt.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Some of the posters in this thread begging for higher gas prices are really just fantasizing a la The World Without US which is a kind of End Times fetish of self-hating consumers.
     
    Most likely unintended consequence of really high gas prices will be a move toward motorcycles as second vehicles.
    That SUV driving Texan that you despise now will be roaring past you on a loud, powerful motorcycle (recall that he does not NEED cargo space) and alas you will still feel angry at his joy.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I can’t even express to you how much I look forward to the day when motorcycles are a primary form of transportation for much of the US.  It would make me deliriously happy to see the parking lot at work half full of bikes.
       
      I would much rather Texas Pete “roar past me” on a powerful bike than continue to obstruct my progress and view with his Canyonero as he is doing today.  Far from feeling angry at his joy, I’ll smile and wave.
       
      I very rarely find myself on a back road frustrated and stuck behind a powerful motorcycle – they’re usually moving along at a good pace.  SUVs and pickups, all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      That’s something I wouldn’t worry here in Canada, at least during winter, which lasts 6 months.

  • avatar

    I don’t think there will be a gasoline freakout number for me, as I am now the proud owner of a 2005 Honda Insight with a paltry 35,000 miles and a Haley cargo trike for short trips. 65+ MPG on the highway and infinite MPG around town. The trike actually has more cargo space than the Honda, so I’m good to go there, too.
     
    Now, there will come a time when a gallon of milk reaches the “freakout level”, and that may well be fairly soon.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Freak out price is more about the speed of price increase, not the actual price.  
    Fast price appreciation does not give time for adjustments.   You then have shock placed against consumers and the overall economy.

    My rant…  
    Why the heck did our law makers allow the oil companies to merge ???    It should be Exxon versus Mobil, not Exxon/Mobil !!    
    Why don’t we limit financial instruments to be limited to taking actual delivery. 

    I am 100% to have real market forces determine price.   (supply/demand/competition)  I don’t think we have that today. 

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      One more..maybe a little abstract…

      If I was in the boardroom of an automaker flush with cash, I might propose that we start an oil company.  Really!
      More specifically, open some refineries and just buy the oil on the open market. Approaching the next elections the timing would be right to get site approvals as an alternative to “drill baby drill”.
      Jobs too!

      It seems like you couln’t lose.   If you create competition and lower gas prices, trucks & SUV’s win.   If there is really a supply issue, you win again with prices and profits.  

      Think about it.       

  • avatar
    ajla

    At $10/gal I’ll have to make a choice:
     
    1. Give up tobacco and alcohol making V8 ownership my new personal vice/
     
    2. Sell my cars, buy a Prius to save on gas, smoke and drink more so I die faster.

  • avatar

    Not necessarily freaked out by the cost per gallon, but by cost per tank. When it costs $50 to fill up my 12 gallon tank then I will freak out. As of yesterday it was $2.95 p/g in Virginia and cost me about $35 to fill up. In summer of 2008 the highest it got was $43.

  • avatar
    steve from virginia

    I got rid of the gd car last year and will not look back.
    Gas can go to $100/gallon, I don’t care. If I want to get somewhere I walk.
    Sometimes I take the subway.
    Gas prices won’t get to $100, too many broke folks so the current price is likely as high as it will get.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I don’t know what the price point will be, but I’ll know I’ve reached it when I add a cabin heater to my Haflinger.

  • avatar

    The last spike in fuel prices was one thing that drove us into a recession, a bigger spike will be a depression. I’d wager I’ll see many more oil wells being drilled in our area and I’ll have to stop heating with oil, the heat pump will have to do.

  • avatar
    AKRonald

    For driving, when the cost of gas equals the cost of  depreciation + insurance, the Schwinn is going to suffer beneath 260 lbs of “freaked out” commuter.  Fortunately, Albuquerque has 400 miles of bike path/trail/lanes.
    As far as the cost of transporting goods, with CSX claiming to move a ton 900 miles per gallon, it shouldn’t make much difference.  Will increase the cost of bringing crap from China, supporting local production.
    I do feel sorry for the farmers.  Their tractors/harvestors guzzle diesel like a flock dehydrated camels.  That is where the cost of living will take a hit.


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