Understanding Petrol Price Cycles to Save on Fuel

Understanding Petrol Price Cycles to Save on Fuel

Australia, like many other countries, experiences regular fluctuations in petrol prices. These fluctuations are known as petrol price cycles, and understanding them can help consumers save money on fuel expenses. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the mechanics of petrol price cycles in Australia and provide you with ten valuable tips to help you save on fuel costs.

What is a Petrol Price Cycle?

Petrol price cycles are periodic fluctuations in fuel prices that occur in most Australian cities. These cycles are influenced by a range of factors, including changes in crude oil prices, refining costs, and market competition. 

Take note of the varying cycle periods in urban centres. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), petrol cycles in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane averaged five weeks to change, while Adelaide’s takes two weeks. If you’re in Perth, you might expect rapid cycling every week.

In its new price monitor evaluation for January 2024, the ACCC took note of varying jumps in average prices per litre from any time during the last four months of 2023 to as late as Australia Day weekend 2024. In Sydney, the price peaked to past $2.05 a litre on 20 December 2023 to gradually slip down to $1.76 on 20 January 2024 but has picked up close to $1.95 after the Australia Day weekend. Melbourne bowsers registered an average of $2.10 on Christmas Day 2023 and gradually went down to $1.76 by 22 January then climbed to $1.92 in late January.

For Brisbane, the average price stood at $1.80 a litre ten days from Christmas, but mostly went south of that over the holidays, going as low as $1.72 the day after New Year’s Day. The next three weeks saw it climb to as high as $2.10 on 22 January then mellowing to close to $2.05 after the celebrations. In Adelaide, the peak average price originally stood at $2.06 a litre on 17 December but it had a smooth drop to as low as $1.66 on 4 January then had a major spike over the next four days to $2.05, followed by a slightly fast dip to $1.67 by January 18 – but spiked again at close to $2 by 23 January.

If you’re in Perth, you might expect rapid cycling every week – current data shows a consistent pattern of rapid price increases (from $1.65 to close to two dollars a litre) then a sudden drop and trickle. This rise and dip occurred at least six times from before Christmas to the Australia Day weekend.

The Phases of a Petrol Price Cycle

Petrol price cycles typically consist of three phases:

  • Low Point: This is when petrol prices are at their lowest during the cycle. It’s an excellent time to fill up your tank as you can take advantage of lower prices.
  • Rapid Increase: Following the low point, prices start to rise quickly. This phase can be frustrating for consumers as it often leads to higher fuel expenses.
  • Plateau or Decline: After the rapid increase, prices reach a plateau or start to decline gradually. This phase continues until the next low point in the cycle.

Understanding these phases is crucial for consumers looking to save on fuel expenses in Australia. Now, let’s explore some tips that can help you make the most of these cycles.

Petrol-Saving Tips

Monitor Fuel Price Trends

Stay informed about the current phase of the petrol price cycle in your area. There are various apps and websites that provide real-time information on petrol prices, allowing you to plan your refuelling strategically.

Fill Up During the Low Point

When prices are at their lowest, make sure to fill up your tank, to ensure possible fuel savings over time. It may be possible to invest in jerry cans that enable you to stock up on more petrol plus stabilisers to ensure they do not grow contaminated while being secured in cool locations.

Use Loyalty Programmes

Many petrol stations offer loyalty programmes that provide discounts or rewards for frequent customers. Take advantage of these programmes to maximise your savings.

Consider Alternative Fuels

Explore alternative fuel options like ethanol, LPG, or electric vehicles if they are suitable for your needs. These options can be more cost-effective in the long run.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Regular vehicle maintenance, including proper tire inflation, clean air filters, and regular servicing, can improve fuel efficiency and save you money on petrol.

Carpool and Share Rides

Consider carpooling or ride-sharing with friends, family, or colleagues to split fuel costs and reduce your individual expenses.

Plan Your Routes

Efficient route planning can help you avoid unnecessary detours and reduce your fuel consumption. Consider using GPS apps that provide real-time traffic updates to choose the quickest routes.

Drive Smoothly

Avoid aggressive driving behaviour like rapid acceleration and hard braking, as they can significantly decrease your fuel efficiency. Practise defensive driving strategies and use the vehicle’s cruise control capability if it has one to maintain constant speed, especially on the highway – even if the road has very few vehicles, do not get tempted with flooring the pedal due to the presence of speed cameras.  

Reduce Idling

If you are parked or waiting for an extended period of time, do not keep the engine on idle. Idling consumes fuel unnecessarily and contributes to higher expenses.

Combine Errands

Minimise the number of trips you make by combining multiple errands into one outing. This reduces the distance you need to travel and, consequently, your fuel consumption.

Petrol Supplies in Australia

Apart from understanding petrol price cycles and employing fuel-saving strategies, it’s essential to have an overview of fuel supplies in Australia.

Australia relies primarily on imported fuel, making it susceptible to international market fluctuations. As a result, fuel prices are directly influenced by global events such as changes in oil production, geopolitical tensions, and weather-related disruptions. To ensure a stable fuel supply, the Australian government is moving to build a strategic reserve of petroleum products under the Fuel Security Act 2021, and is pushing ahead with the Boosting Australia’s Diesel Storage Program to stockpile more diesel.

Additionally, Australia is improving its already stringent fuel quality standards to reduce environmental impact and maintain engine performance. The Refinery Upgrades Program aims to increase refinery efficiency for limiting sulphur content to ten parts per million (PPM) of sulphur across all fuel classes – current standards have it at 150 PPM in regular unleaded petrol, and 50 PPM in premium unleaded petrol. These standards help ensure that the fuel you purchase meets specific quality criteria, enhancing vehicle performance and reducing emissions.

The RACV also noted that even with changes in fuel stocks, Australia’s fuel prices are among the lowest in the OECD, even in the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI ) report.


Studying the mechanics of petrol price cycles in Australia can empower consumers to make informed decisions and save money on fuel expenses. By understanding the phases of these cycles and implementing fuel-saving tips, you can take control of your budget and minimise the impact of fluctuating petrol prices.

Remember to stay vigilant, plan strategically, and make the most of loyalty programs and alternative fuel options to optimise your savings. In a world where fuel prices can be unpredictable, knowledge and preparedness are your best allies for managing your fuel expenses.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only. 2 Ezi has no business relationships with any government agency or company mentioned and does not offer any fuel-based rewards.

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