High Gas Prices Taking Toll On Some SUV Owners In River Region

Chris Wilson has a problem, a $33,000 problem. That's how much he owes on his 2007 Tahoe, but the most a dealership will give him is $22,000.

"It's very discouraging," said Wilson.

Welcome to Chris Wilson's world. He is finding out the hard way that high gas prices, now flirting with the $4 a gallon mark locally, is dictating the market value of SUVs and trucks. Wilson admits he bought the white Tahoe on emotions rather than thinking it through.

"You have to chalk this one up and ride out the storm," Wilson said.

A storm that makes it more difficult to bear when your monthly payments are $600.00 a month.

"I'm lucky to get 13 miles a gallon in town and 16 on the highway," Wilson said.

Chris Wilson is not alone. At least one dealership in the River Region is facing the same kind of pain.

"The market has certainly decreased on those vehicles," said Prattville dealer Lamar Wagner.

That's why Wagner made the decision a year ago to cut back on SUV orders. Cars are pulling him through now.

"Cars are carrying all dealerships through," said Wagner.

It's anyone's guess whether gas prices will come back down and whether SUVs like Chris Wilson's will regain their value. What is certain is Wilson is stuck upside down, so a bit of advice from a man who's feeling the full weight of a gas-guzzling Tahoe.

"Check your finances and make sure you can afford the gas before you buy one," Wilson said.

Part of riding out that storm includes gasoline for the Tahoe. It costs Wilson $75 to fill it up. Wagner, meantime, says the big sellers are cars with smaller tanks that get 25 or more miles per gallon.