Motorists who fail to shop around are wasting up to $40 when they fill up in several capital cities amid huge price differences between the cheapest and most expensive fuel.

In recent days unleaded petrol prices in major cities have varied by 40-50c depending on discounting cycles.

Petrol price websites show that unleaded fuel was selling between $1.50 and $1.98 in Sydney, between $1.62 and $2 in Melbourne, between $1.66 and $2.14 in Brisbane and between $1.59 and $2.10 in Adelaide.

Finance specialists recommend using apps and websites to check fuel prices before leaving home, and say recent falls in global oil prices could see petrol costs dip lower in the coming weeks.

While pump prices have fallen in the past three months as oil prices dropped, the cost of mistiming a fuel purchase can be about $25 per tank on a sedan and $40 on a larger SUV.

Comparison website Mozo’s spokeswoman, Rachel Wastell, said the widening gap between cheapest and most expensive fuel could reflect competition, inflationary pressures and retailers’ market-driven decisions.

“What’s really interesting about fuel prices is not just the difference between the peaks and troughs of price cycles overall, but rather the difference in price between fuel retailers on any given day, as some retailers just seconds down the road can offer the same fuel type for a much cheaper price,” she said.

“It was just three years ago, in 2020, that petrol prices dropped back under a dollar, so witnessing a necessary expense doubling in such a short period of time is likely another reason why fuel prices still feel like one of the biggest cost of living issues.

“If you don’t have time to track petrol price cycles, are from a regional area, or live in those capital cities where price cycles do not apply, downloading a fuel price app before you get in the car is likely your best bet for saving on fuel.”

Ms Wastell said there was a mix of government-run and private petrol price apps nationally, and said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s website also had tips for motorists.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman suggested the Motormouth app and those run by motoring organisations such as the RACV and RACQ.

Mr Felsman said some retailers had a “significant mark-up” of around 20-25c a litre compared with wholesale prices, and prices could vary widely between individual suburbs.

“We encourage motorists to shop around and get the best deal,” he said.

Crude oil prices have dropped from around $US90 to $US70 a barrel since late September, despite tensions in the Middle East and sharp falls in recent days are expected to flow through to pump prices.

Mr Felsman said capital city peaks could soon drop from $2.20 to around $2 a litre.

“We are seeing oil prices average around $US72 a barrel – I think we have moved away from the worries of around $100 a barrel that we had,” he said.

Crude oil was under pressure from fears of weak economic growth in China and key Western nations, increasing production by some countries, and price cuts by the world’s biggest producer – Saudi Arabia, Mr Felsman said.

“It’s forcing oil prices lower at the moment, which is good news for Australians motorists eventually,” he said.

“It appears to be heading in the right direction.”

Extracted in full from: