Petrol has hit the highest price all year – more than $1.75 a litre for unleaded – as service stations cash in before Christmas.

Fuel costs have surged across hundreds of metropolitan sites, hitting families preparing to fill up the car for the annual summer break.

RACV spokesman Brodie Bott accused petrol stations of giving themselves an early Christmas present.

“While motorists are paying the price, service stations are reaping the rewards,’’ Mr Bott said.

“The most common price for unleaded is more than $1.75 a litre, and there’s very little fuel anywhere under $1.65.

Melbourne motorists are hoping prices drop before Christmas.Source:istock

“This is the highest average price spike of the calendar year.

“Wholesale prices remain low while the retail price has climbed, generating very generous profit margins for fuel retailers.”

The average price across metropolitan Melbourne yesterday was about $1.65 a litre.

Mark McKenzie, chief executive of lobby group the Australian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, said the spike was the result of the price cycle peaking and that operators were looking to recover from deep discounting.

“The way the Melbourne market is now is that there are lower lows. Because operators look to recover those losses, there are higher highs.’’

Petrol prices have been spotted with as much as a 40c difference in a recent price cycle across Melbourne.Source:istock

Pump prices have jumped by as much as 40c a litre from the low point to peak price in recent fuel price cycles across Melbourne.

According to petrol analysts Informed Sources, Melbourne’s unleaded price bottomed out at an average of $1.38 on December 5 before rising sharply early last week.

Mr McKenzie said that the price cycle mean that prices should soon start to fall.

“It looks like it will top out and be low in the lead-up to Christmas,’’ he said.

Melbourne’s wholesale price has remained fairly consistent – between $1.30 and $1.37 – during the latest price swings.

Pump prices for diesel and LPG in Melbourne have been more stable this year. The diesel average in Melbourne is now about $1.47 while LPG is 65c.

The RACV advised motorists to top up, not fill up, while waiting for petrol prices to drop again.

A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in October found that motorists who filled up at independent petrol station chains were getting the best value at the bowser.

Extracted from