Gas prices have been dropping and could be 20 to 25 cents lower by Halloween.
The average retail gasoline price in the Gary metropolitan area fell 2.4 cents per gallon last week to $3.45 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com's daily survey of more than 300 area gas stations.
Motorists can fill their tanks for as little as $3.31 a gallon in Burns Harbor, and for $3.33 a gallon in Hammond, Lake Station and East Chicago.
Prices have been falling and should decline further because the summer driving season is over, demand is dropping off and refineries are switching to a cheaper winter blend, said Patrick DeHaan, a Chicago-based senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.
"Kids are back in school, and people aren't taking vacations or doing as much discretionary spending," he said. "In Northwest Indiana, people aren't spending as much time on their boats in Lake Michigan. There's less vacation travel, and people aren't going to visit their lake cottages."
Gas prices traditionally decline in the fall, but retail prices are even lower this year because the hurricane season has largely passed without inflicting much damage to Gulf Coast oil refineries, DeHaan said.
The average price Sunday in the Gary metro area was 17.8 cents a gallon lower than a month ago and 41.7 cents a gallon lower than a year ago.
Indiana has has one of the biggest year-over-year drops in the country, Gasbuddy chief oil analyst Tom Kloza said. Gas has even fallen below $3 a gallon in Terre Haute.
Recent history suggests gas should get even cheaper between now and Halloween, by another 20 to 25 cents a gallon, Gasbuddy's analysts predict. A hurricane, escalation of the conflict in Syria, or several other factors could however abruptly halt the downward slide, DeHaan said.
"Indiana prices have been on a roller coaster," DeHaan said. "Prices should reverberate between $3.15 to $3.35 by Halloween, but that's just the range."
Downward pressures on gas prices should keep the upper hand over the upward pressures for the foreseeable future, but the balance can shift daily, he said.
Given the cost of oil, a few refineries for instance might struggle to make money on the current retail gasoline prices and throttle back on production, which would prop up what motorists pay at the pump and restore their margins, DeHaan said.