ACCC urges Aussies to use fuel price websites

ACCC urges Aussies to use fuel price websites

Much like death and taxes, paying higher and higher prices for petrol is now an unavoidable reality. 

In a statement released today, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims has urged Aussies to empower themselves by using fuel price data from website and apps. 

“The current focus of the ACCC is to highlight to consumers the ability of technology to help them find where the cheapest petrol prices are, to encourage them to buy where petrol is cheapest, and to reward retailers which have the lowest prices,” said Mr Sims. 

Since 2016, fuel price data has been available to motorists to do just so, through various websites and apps, including:

  • NSW FuelCheck scheme
  • GasBuddy app
  • NRMA app
  • 7-Eleven app 

Aussies starting to turn their backs on petrol

It’s no secret that rising petrol prices eat into household budgets, and motorists are keen to find alternative ways to save on petrol. In July 2017, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that the share of vehicles that use petrol fell from 81.1 per cent in 2012 to 75.7 per cent in 2017. 

“Many consumers appear convinced that petrol prices are a rip off,” explained Mr Sims. 

“The wild fluctuations in prices that occur in the larger cities as a result of the petrol price cycles only reinforce this view. 

“This takes us from a long-standing arrangement whereby only the major retailers had access to comprehensive information about petrol prices, to consumers now being empowered to make purchasing decisions through a range of fuel price apps and websites. 

“We believe this will, in turn, help drive more competitive markets in petrol retailing,” said Mr Sims. 

The ACCC fight for your right to petrol data 

According to the ACCC release, in August 2014 they took action against Informed Sources, a subscriber service “which allowed major petrol retailers to exchange fuel price data across all their sites on a near real-time basis.” 

This allowed data to become publically available to everyone through the MotorMouth website and app, helping consumers to find lower petrol prices. 

“We alleged that by facilitating the exchange of price information, the Informed Sources service enabled petrol retailers to communicate with each other about their prices. 

“By doing so, the Informed Sources service had the effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition. 

“The undertaking we achieved in the Informed Sources case was important because since May 2016, retail price data has been available to consumers, including through a mobile phone app. 

“The information also encourages price discounters by bringing their lower prices to the attention of consumers. 

“Since we reached the undertaking with Informed Sources and the major retailers in December 2015, fuel price apps and websites have become a fast-growing segment of the fuel market. 

“We think this information is especially important today when there appears to be increasing confusion about fuel prices due to the changing nature of the price cycle over recent years,” said Mr Sims.

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Before giving you a car loan, lenders will ask for proof of income – documentary evidence that you earn as much as you claim you earn. Lenders will typically want some combination of tax returns, pay slips and bank statements. The reason lenders want proof of income is because they want to be sure you have the means to repay the car loan.

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CTP insurance, also known as compulsory third-party insurance or a green slip, is compulsory if you want to register a vehicle in Australia. If you’re responsible for a car accident, your CTP insurance will be used to pay any compensation due to anyone who might be injured or killed. However, CTP insurance doesn’t cover you for vehicle damage or theft.

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A dealership is a car yard or a place where cars are sold.

What is dealer finance?

Dealer finance is a car loan organised through a car dealer – as opposed to car loans organised by a finance broker or directly by the lender.

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The trade-in value is the price you could realistically charge if you were to sell your car to a dealer while buying a replacement vehicle. Generally, a car’s trade-in value is less than its market value. That’s because the dealer has no interest in buying your car unless it can make a profit – which can only be done if the dealer has room to increase the price.

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The resale value is the price you could realistically charge if you were to sell your car. Almost every car loses value each year, although at different rates. As a guide, cars depreciate on average by 14 per cent per year in the first three years and then eight per cent per year after that.

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The interest rate is the price you have to pay for borrowing money. The interest rate is expressed as an annual percentage of however much of the loan remains to be paid. For example, if you took out a $10,000 car loan with an interest rate of 8.75 per cent, you would be charged 8.75 per cent of $10,000, or $875 of interest per year. But if you then reduced the outstanding loan to $9,000, your annual interest bill would be 8.75 per cent of $9,000, or $787.50.

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If you own a car, it may be something that can help you bring down the cost of your next vehicle purchase through its sale. However, before you can do that you’ll want to find out how much your car is worth.

Your car’s worth can depend upon various aspects, including:

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Both have pros and cons, as cars can be very profitable, something that will no doubt impact any chance you have to make the most of your car’s value upon sale. Dealerships will try to profit on your trade-in by buying it for less than they can sell it for, so you shouldn’t expect the same price selling a car to a dealer that you would necessarily get selling a car privately.

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The federal government imposes a luxury car tax of 33 per cent on the value of a car above a threshold. As of the 2017-18 financial year, that threshold was $75,526 for fuel-efficient vehicles and $65,094 for other vehicles. So a fuel-efficient car worth $80,000 would be taxed only on the difference between the threshold and the value of the car ($4,474), rather than taxed on the entire $80,000. Similarly, an ordinary car worth $70,000 would be taxed on the $4,906 above the threshold, rather than the entire $70,000. The luxury car tax is paid by dealers that sell or import luxury cars, and also by individuals who import luxury cars.

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If you already own a car, you could potentially bring down the cost by selling your car in the process. Before that happens, though, you’ll need to find out how much your car is worth.

One of the first places to find this value is to research the value of your current car, giving you an idea of roughly how much it’s worth in its peak condition.

There are plenty of websites that offer a free online valuation, allowing you to enter your car’s make, model, year, badge and description, with results listing a price guide based on both selling your car privately and through a dealership.

Of course, dealerships will try to profit on your trade-in by buying it for less than they can sell it, making it highly unlikely that you’ll get the same price selling a car to a dealer as you would selling a car privately.

However, private car sales can be costly and can take months to sell, making car trading more convenient with a guaranteed return, even if you may not be able to realise the total value of your car’s worth.

Remember that everything is negotiable. If the dealership is offering you less for your trade than you wanted, try to negotiate elsewhere to gain that money back. Start by negotiating on the price of the trade and then ask them if they can give you a further discount on your new car.

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There are also costs associated with vehicle ownership, such as paying for petrol and the obligatory ongoing maintenance. But should you cut down on costs by servicing your own vehicle?

If you’re considering getting out the tool box, spanner, and grease-laden towel, you need to carefully weigh up the risks and benefits. A trained mechanic will need to complete certain tasks, while you may be perfectly capable to handle other aspects yourself.

If you’re short on time, it may be worth paying for the convenience of a full vehicle service. However if you’re trying to slash your expenses, there are some basic maintenance tasks that you can complete yourself.

You should call a mechanic if you’re unsure about a vehicle maintenance task you’re about to take on. However there are a number of maintenance tasks that you may be able to complete with your own two hands including:

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Remember to keep your car’s body in good condition, by washing and applying a protective wax on a regular basis, too.

Always check your car warranty agreement as some new car purchases come with an extended car warranty provided your services are conducted at the vehicle service centre where you purchased the car. In these circumstances, you may find the service fee is capped, alleviating some of the maintenance woes.

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Salary packaging is an arrangement you can make with your employer that can allow you to buy a car from your pre-tax salary. The advantage of salary packaging is that it will redue your taxable income.

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Some lenders will charge you an establishment fee, or one-off upfront fee, to cover the cost of setting up your car loan.

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The residual value of a car is how much it will be worth at the end of a lease period. Finance companies need to calculate a car’s residual value before they can know how much to charge during the lease period. For example, if a financier calculates that a $30,000 car will have a residual value of $16,000 at the end of a five-year lease, the financier will know that it must charge $14,000 to break even on the lease – and more to make a profit.