Why do gas prices rise and fall? 5 driving factors

Why do gasoline prices go up and down so much across the US, and what causes the changes? Here are five key factors that influence gas prices:

5. Closed for maintenance

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Tesoro's Los Angeles oil refinery is seen through a fence in Los Angeles, California in October. Refineries perform maintenance in the fall and spring, slowing down production and decreasing the supply of gasoline.

Refineries tend to do regular upkeep work in the fall and spring, which can lead to interruptions in the supply of gas. And when supply is limited, prices go up.

“Spring often has the highest prices because demand is increasing, refineries are conducting maintenance, and they’re getting ready for the switch over to summer blend gasoline,” says Green.

Refinery problems are less of a threat in the summer and winter – i.e., outside of the maintenance seasons – and those periods tend to have stronger production. But with demand for gasoline high in the summer, Green says, winter is the only time when steady supply and low demand result in cheap gas.

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