ACCC urges car owners to hunt for cheap petrol

ACCC urges car owners to hunt for cheap petrol

Drivers could save up to $520 per year by purchasing petrol at the bottom of the price cycle, according to a new report from Australia’s competition regulator.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), which monitors petrol prices in about 200 cities and towns across Australia, said at least 18 had price cycles (see image below):

  • New South Wales – Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong and Tweed Heads South
  • Victoria – Melbourne, Geelong, Koo Wee Rup, Wallan and Seymour
  • Queensland – Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Caboolture and Ipswich
  • Western Australia – Perth, Geraldton
  • South Australia – Adelaide, Gawler

Price cycles involve “sudden, sharp increase in petrol prices” – usually led by one or more sites – “followed by a much slower decline back to lower price levels”.

The ACCC estimated that drivers who buy from the cheapest petrol stations at the bottom of price cycles could make the following annual savings:

  • Sydney – $175
  • Melbourne – $150
  • Brisbane – $150
  • Perth – $520
  • Adelaide – $200

Savings are higher in Perth because of its regular weekly cycles. The other capitals have longer cycles, and therefore fewer low points, according to the ACCC.

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Use your wallet to send a message: ACCC

ACCC commissioner Mick Keogh said that price cycles aren’t illegal, even though they often seem inexplicable.

“There’s a common perception that all retailers put their prices up or down at exactly the same time, but our research shows this isn’t the case, so if you see prices going up at one retailer, use an app to find another who hasn’t yet raised their price,” he said.

“Many people don’t realise there is also a significant difference between the cheapest and most expensive service stations throughout the price cycle, so purchasing petrol from those retailers that are consistently among the lowest-priced will save you money.”

Mr Keogh said that if drivers used price comparison apps to locate cheaper petrol stations, it would put pressure on dearer petrol stations to lower their prices.

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Learn more about car loans

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

What is proof of income?

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.

What is trade-in value?

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.

What is resale value?

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.

How much is your car worth?

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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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.

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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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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A great starting place for aspects of this includes websites that offer online valuations, allowing you to enter your car’s make, model, year, badge and description, with the listed results displaying a price guide based on both selling your car privately and through a dealership.

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.

What is stamp duty?

Stamp duty, or motor vehicle duty, is a tax you pay when you transfer a car into your name. Stamp duty applies to both new and used cars. Stamp duty is a state tax, so rates and conditions vary from state to state: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory.

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Depreciation is the reduction in the value of 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.

What is salary packaging?

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.

What is an establishment fee?

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

What is residual value?

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.

What is a commercial hire purchase?

A commercial hire purchase, or CHP, is an arrangement by which a finance company buys a car on your behalf. You get to borrow the car in return for making regular payments to the financier. Once the final payment is made, you take ownership of the car.