Fuel forecast: When can U.S. drivers expect relief?

Car companies agree to raise fuel efficiency
Car companies have agreed to double the average fuel efficiency of their entire model lines beginning in 2017. As Jim Axelrod reports, by 2025, the new standards will save American motorists $1.7 trillion at the pump.

(CBS News) National gas prices are 18 cents higher on average than a year ago, but it looks as though relief is on the way for drivers.

The national average this week is $3.84 per gallon, but prices seemed to have leveled off after rising steadily for most of the summer.

Refinery closures and Hurricane Isaac drove prices higher at the pump for most of July and August, but AAA auto club predicts that prices will likely decline because production is resuming in the Gulf of Mexico, the summer driving season is over and new, cheaper winter fuel requirements are about to go into effect for winter fuel. This is traditionally what happens at this time of year.

Still, drivers in seven states: Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut and New York, are paying $4 a gallon or more.

And there are still some wildcards on the horizon. Hurricane season isn't over, and the Federal Reserve is expected to announce another round of stimulus into the economy Thursday. That would let banks have more cash on hand to buy commodities, like oil, which could send oil and gas prices higher.