Gas prices Gas prices

What Happens When Gas Hits $5? $7? $10?

Article placement secured as part of a paid partnership with a PR firm that sought various media opportunities for Casey Weade and Howard Bailey.

If you were around in the 1970s, you'll undoubtedly cringe to recall leisure suits and disco dancing. Even more unsettling: the memories of trying to pump gas.

Twice during a decade marked by double-digit inflation -- in 1973 and 1979 -- oil shortages caused by an OPEC embargo and political unrest in Iran, respectively, made it costly and aggravating to fill your tank.

In 1979, gas sold for roughly 90 cents a gallon, a little more than $2.60 in today's dollars and much less than the $4.14 high seen in 2008. But short supplies meant, in many states, that you could gas up only on designated days of the week. Lines were huge, stretching far down the streets of service stations. Sales of lockable gas caps soared as a preventative to roving thugs who would brazenly siphon out your hard-fought fuel while you slept.

Today, with gas above the $4 mark at many stations across the nation, things haven't gotten quite that bad. There is, to be sure, pain at the pump. But gas supplies remain healthy and free -- despite political unrest in many oil-producing nations. People grumble and count their pennies, but they seem to have adjusted. In fact, gas prices appear poised to even drop a bit in coming days.

But when will they get pushed over the edge? Is $7 a gallon enough to cause personal pain? Is $10 unthinkable or a worrisome milestone that will eventually get here, as it did in Europe?