Finances & Money Frugality

Will Dropping Gas Prices = Stranded Drivers?

This morning, I heard the radio announcer say that people are switching from refilling their gas tanks when the needle hit 3/4 of a tank remaining to waiting as long as possible to take advantage of lowering gas prices. Well, that makes sense.

When gas prices were increasing as quickly as they had been (10 cents every two days at some points), it made sense for frequent drivers to top off their tanks before it reached a half-tank, or even a quarter empty, even though that meant lugging around a few more pounds of fuel that lowered your fuel economy a bit.

But now that gas prices are on a downward trend, people are playing the waiting game to see how long they can go before needing to get gas, and maybe only getting a day or two’s-worth at that. Well you can probably see what’s going to make the news next…

First it was people purposely running out of fuel just so they could get the complimentary gallon of gas from the highway motorist assistance, but now I foresee people running out of gas because they’re stupid and don’t fill up their tanks with enough gas to get to their destination. C’mon people, you’re saving pennies just to risk getting stranded and paying dozens or hundreds of dollars on a tow service.

On the one hand, I think those cheaters who ran out of gas purposely were rather smart (still annoying though), but people who run on fumes just to save a few cents when a gallon drops 2 pennies are just cheap.

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Clever Dude


  • Yeah, you’re right. People get ridiculous when it comes to gas prices. They jump through all sorts of hoops just to save a few cents but have no qualms about blowing money in a million different ways. I think it’s because to a certain extent, how much we spend on gas isn’t in our control. It’s virtually impossible not to drive and for some, it’s hard to avoid long commutes. So people do all sorts of crazy things to have a little bit of control over this area of their lives.

  • One thing the rising gas prices have really brought forward, for me, is the simple fact that owning and operating a car isn’t a cheap thing. When you add everything together gas is probably the cheapest item on the list and if you can’t afford that you probably shouldn’t have the car. Regardless of how or why you run out of gas its just plain stupid.

  • Funny, when I first read the title of your post, I thought you had it backwards — that “Will Rising Gas Prices = Stranded Drivers”, thinking from the perspective that with higher gas prices, people psychologically have more of a problem refilling frequently and are thus more likely to try to “draw out” the time between each fill up, leading to the dummies who run out of gas. But the point you’re coming from makes a lot of sense — that economically-minded people will want to draw out each fill up to try to take advantage of savings.

    So perhaps its more complicated? Psychology vs. Economics?

  • This “technique” has never really worked for me. Everytime I try to hold out (not to the point of the gas light coming on, granted) the price always miraculously jumps up the day I decide to buy gas. That’s why I Save Money On Gas By Filling Up More.

    The pennies aren’t worth it. Just be grateful that it’s down (now) and buy.

  • I have done this before to avoid buying gas till a payday, but never let it run with the empty light on for more than 2 or 3 short work/home trips

    I now know for sure I can go 17 miles after the light comes on!

  • I fill-up every week at the one of three locations, all within my normal route of travel. It is stupid to run all over the place trying to save a few cents per gallon. In most cases people who do that use more gas/cash than they save.

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