Drivers see relief at the pump as gas prices fall

The price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline dropped significantly this week across the country, dipping below the $4 mark at some gas stations in the Modesto area and providing some relief to drivers.

"It gives you hope more than anything else," said Mike Dallas, 61, as he pumped gas into his car Saturday afternoon at the am-pm gas station on Tully Road and Bowen Avenue in Modesto. "Hope that maybe the price will continue going down."

While a number of Modesto gas stations are attracting customers with prices below $4, the average price per gallon of regular unleaded was $4.06 on Saturday in the Modesto area, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A month ago, the average was $4.50 per gallon.

Dallas, of Modesto, was filling up at $3.99 a gallon at the am-pm, and he said any price reduction will help his monthly budget. Prices at some stations in the area, according to modbee.com/gas, were as low as $3.89.

Last month, Dallas said, he and his wife spent $700 on gas. Dallas commutes to his job in Lodi, and his wife is a salesperson who has clients throughout Northern California.

While the two find a way to pay for their commutes, the rising prices have kept one of their vehicles parked.

"I have a motorhome that I don't drive anymore," Dallas said.

Jennifer Leazer, 41, just bought a GMC Sierra pickup, so she's constantly searching online for the cheapest gas near her Modesto home.

"I was going real quick to the mall, so I went on the Internet and saw that this was the cheapest gas price in the area," Leazer said Saturday while filling up for $3.95 a gallon at the Valero gas station on H and Seventh streets in Modesto.

The prices are still high for Leazer, but she said finding gas under $4 per gallon is a start in the right direction.

"It's kind of a relief to see the price is going down," Leazer said. "Every little bit helps."

Kathy Anglim, 44, of Modesto, doesn't hunt for fuel bargains online, so she was surprised to see the $3.99 price tag at the am-pm on Tully.

She works in Ceres, and spends about $45 to fill her Mazda Miata.

"It's kind of nice to start seeing (the gas price) go down," Anglim said.

While the average price per gallon has dropped by almost 50 cents in a month, it was at $2.98 a year ago, according to AAA. The highest average price for regular unleaded fuel in the Modesto area was $4.55 recorded on June 19.

John Hamilton, of Modesto, was filling up for $3.98 per gallon at the Raley's gas station on Floyd and Roselle avenues in Modesto's Village 1. He said the price drop helps, but he wasn't that relieved.

"I think the price is still too high," said Hamilton, a self-employed medical salesman who spends about $500 a month on fuel to meet clients throughout Northern California. "The oil prices have been out of control."

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.