red green yellow orange color fuel gasoline dispenser  background
red green yellow orange color fuel gasoline dispenser background

How to cut your petrol spending

Motorists are being stung by higher petrol prices amid fresh fears of war in the Middle East, but can still control what they spend at the pump.

Drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oilfields this month have pushed global oil prices up sharply, and petrol stations in some states quickly lifted prices by 30c to $1.70 a litre.

The rise adds an extra $20 to fill a typical family car, and consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is watching retailers closely.

Australia's five biggest capital cities have petrol price cycles that regularly spike, but even cities without cycles will see increases as global oil prices climb.

Frustrated by high petrol costs? You’re not alone, as higher oil prices bite.
Frustrated by high petrol costs? You’re not alone, as higher oil prices bite.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said oil prices were set to rise further amid reports the Saudi oilfields could take months to repair, and increasing US-Iran aggression.

 

ACCC chair Rod Sims said drivers were "understandably frustrated" by price cycles, but this gave them opportunities to pay less during troughs - if, that is, you live in an area that has cycles.

In Hobart, petrol prices have been sitting at around $1.51 for months, while in Darwin and Canberra prices were near $1.40 until a week ago.

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The best ways for motorists to save are to monitor price movements online and drive more efficiently.

Mr Sims said motorists could use free petrol comparison apps such as MotorMouth, GasBuddy and Fuel Check (NSW) to find the cheapest retailers. Others include Fuel Map and Petrol Spy, while state-based automotive associations also have apps and online help.

you’ll put less money into your petrol tank if you accelerate and brake less aggressively.
you’ll put less money into your petrol tank if you accelerate and brake less aggressively.

"If you are able to buy petrol at the bottom of the cycle, and shop from independents where possible, you will save yourself considerable dollars over the course of a year," Mr Sims said.

"If you notice prices going up, use an app to find a retailer who has not yet raised its prices yet - there is generally a five-to-seven day lag between the first retailer who raises its prices and the last."

Mr Sims said changes to global oil prices also took five to seven days to flow through to wholesale prices.

"The ACCC is actively monitoring fuel prices and we will call out excessive increases in our next quarterly monitoring report if they are seen to occur."

Cashback World savings specialist Vanessa Ferrao said many motorists weren't aware of the predictability of petrol price cycles "so I would say they have more power than they think".

She said other ways to save included collecting supermarket receipts for fuel discounts, using cash back programs, and keeping your car well-maintained.

"Low tyre pressure, incorrect wheel alignment, and an un-tuned engine are all things that can adversely impact your fuel economy," she said.

Gentle acceleration and limiting hard braking were other ways to save, Ms Ferrao said.

"On the highway, try to maintain a steady cruising speed because speeding up and slowing down adds substantially to the cost - if you have cruise control, use it."

Consumer group Choice says short trips should be avoided because cars could use up to 20 per cent more fuel when the engine is cold, while airconditioning can increase fuel use by 10 per cent.

 

DRIVE TO CUT FUEL COSTS

• Speed up and slow down as gently as possible.

• Have your car serviced regularly.

• Maintain steady cruising speeds.

• Fill up on the cheapest days, using government or private apps to monitor price cycles.

• Check tyre pressures monthly.

• Don't carry unnecessary heavy items in your car

• Use aircon wisely, but remember at speeds above 80km/h aerodynamic drag will cost you more.

• Fill up on the cheapest days, using government or private apps to monitor price cycles.

• Shop at independent retailers, which are consistently cheaper.

Sources: Choice, Cashback World, ACCC


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