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Gas prices can vary widely depending on when you fill up. USA TODAY

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With fewer than two weeks left in the “summer driving season" ending Labor Day weekend, you might wonder where gas prices are headed this fall. 

You can look forward to less pain at the pump, experts say, but be ready for higher prices if hurricanes make their way to shore.

Across most of the country, motorists are forecast to enjoy savings of more than 25 cents per gallon compared to this summer, according to the American Automobile Association, which issued its fall gas price forecast on Thursday.  AAA expects prices this autumn could average $2.40, down from $2.75 around July 4.

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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The lower price of crude oil, which gasoline is made from, is one of the primary factors expected to reduce the cost of gas this upcoming season, says AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano, and motorists should see savings "in every market across the country." 

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Still, the optimistic outlook for drivers depends on 2019's hurricane activity, which is expected to be above normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's latest hurricane season forecast.

The climate prediction center anticipates a total of 10 to 17 named storms, including up to nine hurricanes with the peak months, August through October, already underway. Hurricanes often affect gas prices as refineries, drilling operations and other key pieces of infrastructure can be impacted by coastal storms.

Even the threat of a hurricane can shutter domestic oil production, which leads to spikes in crude and gasoline prices. AAA points out that Hurricane Harvey caused the national gas price average to jump 30 cents in a matter of days when it made Texas landfall in 2017.

The organization offers the following tips to save money and consere fuel this fall:

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

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown

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