Where Should I Compare Fuel Prices?
Australians collectively cover 249,512 million kilometers in their cars each year - that's an average of 13,715km for each registered vehicle.
The main source of fuel for all this driving was petrol, and a whopping 32,732 megalitres of fuel were consumed in FY2016. The average passenger vehicle consumed 10.6 litres per 100 kilometres.
These figures indicate that fuel prices have a significant impact on the Australian population, so getting lower fuel prices becomes an important way to reduce your weekly spending.
Petrol prices fluctuate constantly, so where can you find a reliable guide to the cheapest fuel prices?
How are fuel prices determined?
Petrol prices move in regular cycles, with the cheapest and more expensive days to buy fuel changing with each new cycle.
The price cycle is determined by the petrol retailers, and won't necessarily be related to changes in wholesale fuel costs. A price cycle can range from 11 days to 61 days (based on 2017 cycles).
Fuel prices will typically drop steadily and then sharply increase, so you'll want to purchase fuel when the price cycle is at its low point.
Why is it important to buy fuel at a low price?
If you time your fuel purchase with the low point in the fuel cycle, you'll save around $10-15 on a tank of petrol.
Prices on one day in a single suburb may vary as much as 12c or more, so using one of these resources to find the servo near your with a lower price could be worthwhile.
Where To Compare Fuel Prices
There's a couple of places you can find out about fuel prices nationally:
The ACCC website has historical data showing trends in petrol prices over the recent month that can help you to identify the length of the fuel price cycle in your state, and which day to purchase fuel. Data you'll get:
- Recommendations on when to buy for the best price.
- Graph with trends indicating where in the price cycle your state is.
The charts and recommendations on when to buy are updated three times each week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Both a website and a downloadable app for your phone, MotorMouth shares data sourced from roaming drivers, major fuel retailers, service station operators, private companies, and the public using the mobile app. It's independently, privately owned with no affiliation to any petrol retailer or oil company.
Anyone using the app can record the price of fuel at the station they use to help others find a better price, and get rewarded with credits towards premium features of the app. It covers 4,500 service stations across Australia, a number which is gradually increasing as more users share their local price information.
- Location of lowest fuel prices on a map view near you.
- Daily average petrol prices graph for the last week.
- Ability to update the price at your local servo.
Petrol Spy is a website and phone app that shows fuel prices at independant operators and major retailers, and includes e10 fuel in its price graphs. You'll get:
- Maps showing fuel prices near you.
- Graph of unleaded/e10 fuel price trend.
- If you update prices at your servo to enter a daily promotional give-away for $25 fuel card.
This is a smartphone app that operates in Australia, as well as in Canada and the US. Fuel price information is crowd-sourced, and retailers also have the option to create and maintain their station information, brand and promote to their target audience.
In the app you'll get:
- Trip calculator that calculates the cost of driving based on your vehicle year, make and model.
- List and map view of the lowest nearby fuel prices.
- Ability to update local prices and enter weekly challenges to win fuel.
There's also some state-based fuel price websites that compare retail fuel prices:
NSW: Fuel Check
This website can be used on your phone, and saved to the homescreen for convenience. It shows:
- Fuel prices on a map or list view near you.
- Price trends over the last week.
- The cheapest day to buy fuel from the last week.
QLD: RACQ Free2go Fair Fuel Price
This website asks for your postcode or suburb, and displays both:
- What a 'fair price' for fuel looks like.
- Location of the lowest price and time it was recorded.
The tool also shows whether prices are trending up or down, and recommends whether to buy now or wait if you can.
What can I do to slow price increases?
The difference between wholesale and retail fuel prices has increased 0.9c per L in the last calendar year, so by keeping competition high by buying fuel where the prices are lowest, you can put pressure on the retailers to keep prices lower for longer.
If you've been thinking about changing your car to something with better fuel economy, you might consider your car loan options for a turbo-diesel, hybrid or even full electric car to reduce the amount you're spending on fuel.