Gas Prices Drop More Than 25¢ in a Month

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If there’s one upside to the economy’s downward spiral, it’s that gas prices are steadily getting cheaper.

According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge, the national average for a gallon of regular stood at $3.408 on Tuesday, down from $3.479 the week prior and $3.662 one month ago.

The decline in gas prices had been predicted by experts over the summer, but the steady drop of approximately 1¢ per day didn’t begin in earnest until early September. From then on, drivers have been experiencing relief at the pump, though not quite as soon or in quite as substantial a way as they may have hoped.

To keep the recent price dip in perspective, bear in mind that one year ago, the national average price for a gallon of regular was a mere $2.71. As the Los Angeles Times noted, there has only been one year in history when gas prices were higher in the same week of the year: 2008, when the average for the first week of October was $3.48 per gallon.

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Gas prices are expected to keep dropping due to a combination of turmoil in the financial markets and the falloff in demand that occurs every autumn, according to GasBuddy.com:

With the declines last week in the financial markets and no indications of immediate economic growth ahead, it’s reasonable to expect retail fuel prices to continue to decline incrementally.

One interesting side effect is that cheaper gas prices tweak the demand for certain kinds of vehicles—and alter how much consumers are willing to pay for them. Used cars reached all-time highs in value in June. Since then, used car prices have dropped 6.6%, according to the latest Kelley Blue Book Market Report, and the dropoff in prices has been steeper with one particular kind of used vehicle:

Since June, values have declined 9 percent for fuel-efficient compact cars, with the most pronounced drops coming from hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, which has declined in excess of $4,000.

It’s no coincidence that the decline in fuel-efficient compact prices occurred at the same time as a drop in gas prices.

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Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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