Buying More Fuel Thanks to Lower Prices? Probably Not

Remember last spring and summer, when the price of gasoline seemed to hit a new record high with each passing day?  We were worried gas was soon going to become too expensive for us to commute to and from work, and we would have to choose between filling up our tanks or filling up our stomachs.

In an effort to help keep our budgets balanced, many of us cut back on our discretionary driving, only filled up our tanks half way, used public transportation more, and even gave up our our cars and trucks for bicycles and walking shoes.

Seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?

Since hitting a record high of $4.12 per gallon back in mid-July, the price of gasoline has fallen nearly 60%, and now stands at $1.68 per gallon.  The last time the price of gasoline was this low was back in April 2004.

Now that gas prices have returned to more affordable levels, have those of us who took extraordinary measures to cut back on our gas consumption returned to our prior gas buying ways?

According to a recent poll on, nearly half of us have changed our fuel buying habits due to lower gasoline prices.  Here’s how over 38,000 people responded when asked: Have falling prices changed how much fuel you buy?

  • 23% said Yes, I now fill the tank completely
  • 6% said Yes, I am buying fuel more frequently now
  • 17% said Yes, I don’t fill the tank; I expect lower prices
  • 52% said No, the price never affected my filling up

Before I get into the changes, I think it’s pretty staggering that so many people weren’t affected by high gas prices enough to change their buying habits.  I guess that could be a result of two things:

  1. They’re wealthy enough so that the pinch at the pump didn’t hurt their finances (I’d like to be in this group)
  2. They simply had no choice but to fill up and (likely) cut back expense in other areas of their life

Anyway, back to the changes.  I was kind of surprised that only six percent of respondents stated their biggest change was the fact that they’re buying gas more frequently.  It would seem to me that after a nearly 60% drop in the price of gas, many more of us would be logging more miles, thus filling up more frequently.

But, I guess the third answer (don’t fill up all the way due to the expectation of lower prices) makes sense as well.  After all, why fill up the tank all the way when you can get gas even cheaper tomorrow?!?

PS – I would just like to go on record as saying that I was completely wrong about where gasoline and oil prices were headed.  I said that gas prices wouldn’t break $3 and oil wouldn’t go below $100.  Clearly, I was wrong on both issues.


  1. Dan Braasch says

    I have not changed the amount of fuel I buy due to gas prices. I don’t do alot of discretionary driving anyway, mostly I drive to and from work. My reason for buying more fuel right now is that I live in northern Illinois and had to put my 85 MPG scooter away for the winter. I bought the scooter in May when gas prices were rising. Prices will go back up again. I will not regret buying the scooter.

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