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Gas prices are expected to drop significantly in the fall, according to AAA.

For you early Christmas planners looking to start putting some money away to do your holiday shopping, finding ways to save a little cash to make it easier is always a good thing. Fortunately, one area you’re likely to find some savings this fall is at the gas pump.

Experts at AAA are predicting that motorists can expect to save more than 25 cents per gallon this fall with the average national price falling to about $2.40 per gallon, which will be down from $2.75 on July 4.

In fact, the national gas price average has already fallen 15 cents from five weeks ago, and that trend is poised to continue because of seasonal trends like a decrease in demand after Labor Day and the shift to cheaper-to-produce winter-blend gasoline in September.

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“AAA predicts that fall gasoline prices will be significantly less expensive than this summer with motorists finding savings in every market across the country,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Many factors are driving this decrease, but the low price of crude oil is chief among them.”

The primary driver of the price reduction is the glut of crude oil from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Prices have dropped to $50 to $60 a barrel from as much as $75 a barrel last summer.

Current total domestic crude inventories sit at 438.9 million barrels, which is 31.5 million more. As a result of the glut OPEC and its partners are extending their 1.2 million barrels per day of production reduction agreement through the end of the year. However, so far, reduced supply from OPEC and its partners has not led to a sustained higher price for crude, AAA noted.

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AAA says you can further expand your savings if you ensure your vehicle is running properly. The group offered some pointers, including:

  • Perform required maintenance as specified, keeping tires properly inflated, moving components adequately lubricated, and ignition and emission systems in good operating condition.
  • Change engine oil at the intervals indicated by the in-car maintenance reminder system or factory schedule.
  • Check the engine air filter at every oil change.
  • Engine spark plugs must be in good condition. Some types last for 100,000 miles, but others need to be replaced more often.

However, in spite of these factors, there is one possibility that a motorist cannot plan for that could raise the price of fuel unexpectedly and quickly: hurricanes.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’slatest seasonal hurricane forecast, there are expected to be between 10 to 17 named storms, including up to nine hurricanes with the peak months, August through October, already underway.

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Hurricanes often affect gas prices as refineries, drilling operations and other key pieces of infrastructure can be impacted by coastal storms. A storm doesn’t have to make landfall to impact production, even the threat of a hurricane can force the shuttering of facilities, causing prices to spike.

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