Moving the goalposts: $4 gallons of gas will be the "tipping point"

Last November, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) released the results of a poll that asked Americans how higher gas prices were changing their driving habits. The majority (60 percent) said the cost of gas was having an impact on how they drive, while 30 percent expected more changes when $4 gallons of gas are the norm.
Last week, the AAIA followed up with another survey on the same topic. The main difference is that the $4 level - something the president seems to be working hard to keep in the news - is now seen as the "tipping point" for more people. 65 percent told the AAIA (actually, the Opinion Research Corporation, which conducted the survey) they would "dramatically change their driving behavior" when $4 a gallon gas arrives. Read more details after the jump.

All this begs the question: what is the real limit? Is $4 or $5 really the Rubicon of changing driving habits? I still think it's not the actual price of gas at the pump, but how soon we get there. It seems like a 10-cent-per-month increase will be swallowed along with the general price inflation and weakening dollar. But have the price of gas shoot up $1.20 overnight (and then stay there for a year) and you'll see some changes. Thoughts?

Press Release:

$4 a Gallon Gasoline Will be Tipping Point for Most Consumers

Keeping the Car Running Better and Driving it Less is the Trend

BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If gasoline prices hit $4 per gallon as many economists predict, an estimated 65 percent of American car owners say they will dramatically change their driving behavior, according to a study commissioned by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).

"While a third of consumers claim they already changed their driving behavior by curtailing driving or maintaining their vehicle better when gas prices reached $3 a gallon, the real tipping point is $4 a gallon," said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO.

According to a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for AAIA, 91 percent of drivers are driving less and 75 percent are maintaining their vehicle better because of rising gas prices. Other specific behavioral changes were carpooling (31 percent), purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles (30 percent) and making greater use of public transportation (24 percent).

For more information on the survey, e-mail Rich White at rich.white @ or call 301-654-6664.

For more information on tips and advice for simple vehicle maintenance and care to improve gas mileage, contact the Car Care Council at

About AAIA

AAIA is a Bethesda, Md.-based association whose more than 23,000 member and affiliates manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, service, tool, equipment, materials and supplies. Through its membership, AAIA represents more than 100,000 repair shops, parts stores and distribution outlets.

[Source: Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association]

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