Savvy motorists have been urged to fill up their tanks at the cheapest point of the ‘fuel cycle’ before petrol prices climb during Christmas.

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief executive Mark McKenzie said it paid to look around because there could be a huge difference between the cheapest and most expensive fuel in city areas.

Mr McKenzie said prices changed store by store, rather than by suburb, as individual outlets often played what he called game of ‘discount leapfrog’.

In Sydney on Tuesday afternoon a service station in the south-west Sydney suburb of Padstow was selling petrol for just $1.53 a litre while nearby outlets were charging $2.17, according to Petrol Spy.

In Melbourne’s north-east suburb of Preston an outlet was charging $1.66 a litre while nearby competitors where charging $2.15.

Melbourne average fuel price on Tuesday was $1.87 a litre, according to analytics group Informed Sources.

In Sydney, which is about a week ahead of Melbourne’s price cycle rise, it was $2.03.

However, Mr McKenzie predicted Melbourne and Sydney prices could peak at an average of $2.10 a litre by Christmas.

‘I would definitely fill up sooner rather than later. And make sure to shop around because there are bargains out there,’ he told the Australian Financial Review.

A spokeswoman Eleanor Colonico for Victorian motorist group RACV said drivers in Melbourne should avoid paying more than $1.73 a litre on Tuesday.

NSW NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the best bargains were normally offered by independents who tried to keep prices at the bottom end of the cycle for as long as possible.

Queensland RACQ fuel expert Ian Jeffreys said the average price for regular unleaded petrol across the state’s south-east was $1.80 a litre.

However, with a little looking around motorists might take advantage of the 33 per cent of stations that were charging below $1.75 per litre for regular unleaded.

‘South-east Queensland is entering the cheap phase of its fuel price cycle, and we expect prices to stay relatively cheap over the Christmas and new year period,’ Dr Jeffreys said.

‘It’s a great time to fill up and take advantage of this cheaper fuel, which is widely available.’

Adelaide’s average fuel price on Tuesday was $2.02 a litre, while it was $1.70 in Perth, $1.90 in Canberra, and $1.87 in Hobart and Darwin, according to Informed Sources.

 Ms Colonico said fuel prices could be determined by geographical area, availability, international benchmark prices, taxes, the value of the Australian dollar and levels of demand.

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