With petrol prices hitting a 10-year January high this month – and tipped to stay that way – Australians, now more than ever, need to be aware of where they’re topping up and when.
Grant Waldeck, spokesperson at leading comparison website comparethemarket.com.au, which offers free petrol-price comparisons Australia-wide, says: “Petrol makes up a large part of household budgets. With Australians also being slugged with an average 6.2 per cent increase on their private health insurance from April, 2014 might not be a good year for household budgets – unless you know how to shop around and compare prices. Now is the time when households need to develop a plan for minimising those costs.”
Grant says some motorists will be paying higher prices than others, depending on the area they are in. “Comparethemarket.com.au has highlighted the sub-regions in the major cities where drivers may or may not be paying as much in unleaded petrol (ULP) – where the competition is more intense – than the rest of the city. These city subregions have offered the highest or lowest unleaded petrol prices over the last six months.”
Which areas have offered the lowest and highest ULP prices in the last six months?*
|City||Period (2013)||Subregion with lowest ULP average||Sub-region ULP average (over listed period)|
|Sydney||July & August||Hurstville||149.2|
|October & December||Blacktown||147.1|
|August-December (inclusive)||Frankston/Cranbourne (incl. Vermont in Sept)||145.7|
|Brisbane||July-September (inclusive)||North West||150|
|Adelaide||July & August||West Torrens||148.6|
|October & November||Port Adelaide||144.1|
|Perth||July, August & November||Freemantle||148.2|
|City||Period (2013)||Subregion with highest ULP average||Sub-region ULP average (over listed period)|
|Sydney||July||Eastern Suburbs / Northern Beaches||156.9|
|August & November||Eastern Suburbs||149.4|
|September||Lower North Shore / Northern Beaches||151.9|
|October & December||Lower North Shore||153.1|
|Melbourne||July & August||Greensborough / Ivanhoe||151.3|
|September & October||City/South Melbourne (incl. Moorabbin in Oct)||148.3|
|November & December||Moorabbin||146.9|
|November & December||North||151.9|
|October||Brighton / Mitcham, Burnside & Noarlunga||148.5|
|Perth||July, September & December||Claremont / Cottesloe||152.4|
|August-November, inclusive (incl, Spearwood in November)||Lesmurdie / Midland||149.2|
* Original data supplied by MotorMouth Pty Ltd
Grant says on any given day, any area within a city can show the lowest daily unleaded average. “Price-conscious motorists need to seek out the cheapest service stations – they need to determine both the when and where to buy to get the best deal. While motorists are ‘creatures of habit’ and prefer to stick to the few petrol stations that they know of when shopping for petrol, an increasing number of Australians are doing their research online.”
Who most actively compares petrol prices – and when?
Comparethemarket.com.au’s analysis of its petrol price comparisons shows that Sydneysiders research most for fuel prices, followed by Gold Coast, then Brisbane and then Melbourne. Most comparisons for petrol prices are carried out on a Tuesday, then Monday and steadily drop off after that up until Sunday (with about 50 per cent fewer searches by Sunday).
“The findings suggest most motorists still believe the cheapest prices are offered on Tuesdays. This is no longer the case. The one-week price cycle has now turned into longer cycles – varying from 10-22 days – in most cities.”
Comparethemarket.com.au’s top 6 tips for locating the cheapest fuel in your area
- ‘Cheap Tuesdays’ no longer exist. Petrol stations in most cities follow a cycle of 10-22 days, offering low prices for two-to-three consecutive days within those cycles. “The key to filling up on a cheaper day is to keep an eye on petrol prices in your area and identify the trend,” Grant says.
- Prices typically peak right before public holidays. By researching ahead of time and filling up several days before the public holiday, you stand to save a few cents per litre.
- Try to avoid filling up when your car is less than a quarter full. A tank at least a third full will give you a few days to ‘shop around’ for a reasonable price.
- Air-conditioning, low tyre pressure and excess weight all increase fuel consumption. While it can be a challenge in summer, try to use air-conditioning sparingly. Keep your tyres inflated to their optimal level and avoid driving around with excess weight in the boot.
- Be aware of your driving habits – keeping the engine running when you’re parked for longer periods, and accelerating and braking suddenly (such as over speed humps), will consume petrol more readily.
- Bookmark free web pages that regularly update fuel prices in your area. For instance, comparethemarket.com.au is a free service that updates fuel prices in every Australian city three times a day, shows historical prices for all petrol stations listed, and places them on Google maps. You could end up saving yourself a good deal of money throughout the year.