Autumn Gas Prices Refuse to Fall

Gas_Prices_September_30.jpg Christi Tolbert/iStock/Thinkstock

CARS.COM — When it comes to gasoline prices, 2015 is proving a tough act to follow. The national average for regular unleaded gas rose by a fraction of a penny the past week to $2.22 a gallon, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Despite widespread predictions that pump prices would fall after Labor Day, regular is the same as it was a month ago, while premium and diesel fuel also are unchanged from a month ago at $2.71 and $2.36, respectively.

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Prices for all three had been tracking significantly lower than a year ago before Labor Day. As recently as early August, the average price of regular was 56 cents a gallon cheaper than at the same time in 2015. Now, however, regular is only 7 cents cheaper than a year ago, when pump prices had started a steady slide that lasted until February. That’s when the national average bottomed out at $1.70.

Pump prices typically fall after Labor Day because demand for gas drops and refiners switch to winter gasoline blends that are cheaper to produce. That’s not been the case so far this year, and the national average on the last day of September was the same as on the first day of the month.

If motorists are disappointed that prices haven’t fallen as expected, they can at least be thankful that gas isn’t as expensive as two years ago, when the national average for regular was $3.33 a gallon, or at this time in 2013, when it was around $3.50.

Though the national averages were unchanged the past week, prices bounced up or down in different parts of the country. In Southeastern states that a week ago experienced double-digit price spikes and gas shortages caused by a pipeline leak in Alabama, the situation was normalizing. Prices fell by 4 cents in Georgia, 3 cents in North Carolina and South Carolina, and were unchanged in Alabama.

Prices rose by 3 cents in Louisiana and Mississippi, and by 4 cents in Texas. Those states had been largely unaffected by the pipeline leak the previous week. In the Midwest, where pump prices tend to be more volatile, the average for regular rose 5 cents in Michigan and 8 cents in Indiana.

Regular averaged less than $2 a gallon in four states: $1.99 in Arkansas and Missouri, and $1.98 in New Jersey and Texas, according to AAA. Hawaii had the most expensive gas, with a statewide average of $2.81. Five other states averaged $2.50 or more: Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

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