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Shopping Around for Petrol

I was always intrigued by the comments of certain commentators to “shop around” when it came to buying petrol. Not that it matters much these days (sort of) given the large price decreases we’ve seen in the past 5-6 weeks, but I thought I’d consider it a little here.

I suppose my skepticism about shopping around for petrol is that it’s kind of hard to do when the red light flashing at you on the dashboard. But there are a few things that you can do to ensure that you take advantage of the cheapest petrol and diesel available.

1. Stay informed – Check out the AA Petrol Prices web page to see what the current average price of petrol and diesel in the country. That sets the benchmark price in your mind. Now you can gauge what’s cheap and what’s dear.

2. Use Petrol Price Comparison Websites – Check out Pumps.ie or BestGarages.ie (no longer active) to find out the reported petrol and diesel prices in your local area. If you use these sites to find out information, make sure you pay it back by providing updates of prices that you’re aware of – sharing the information around makes these sites as useful as possible to everyone.

3. Don’t drive to empty – If you’re driving past a petrol station that has cheap petrol or diesel, but you’re only half empty – go in and fill up. If you know it’s cheap, fill up and take advantage of the price. You might not be back that way again, or if you’re waiting for the red light, you might be too far away to make it back to fill up.
4. Don’t fill up just because you’re empty – If you’re a red light gauge bandit but you get caught short and you end up having to buy petrol at a price you know is too dear, you don’t need to fill your car there. Get a tenners worth and get yourself to somewhere you know is cheaper.

5. Don’t get caught out in the shops – Most garages selling petrol now have swanky new shops and snack food providers associated with them. And given that’s how petrol retailers make most of their money, the prices here can sometimes be over the odds. If you can, avoid buying things in these shops, and you’ll cut the overall cost of your visit to the petrol station.

4 comments On Shopping Around for Petrol

  • Thanks for the tips. I have one comment on #3: fuel economy improves quite a bit as you drain the tank. This is because the car gets lighter as it drains petrol. So you might consider driving to empty if you are confident you will get a good price on petrol.

  • Thanks for your comment Alvin. You raise a good point about the lighter car saving you petrol. It’s hopefully something we’ll come back to in our Top Tips for Irish Consumers we’re planning for December.

  • I don’t exactly “shop around”, but I do keep track of where the cheaper petrol is, and will make a slight detour to get it. I won’t drive for miles specifically to find it though .. at best, the difference is about 6%. There are stations that charge exorbitant prices, but very few that are exceptionally good value.

  • Full tank will effect consumption, but only very slightly. 50l weighs about 37kg. Car weighs .. 700kg upwards. Full tank is max 5% of vehicle total. Driving with a lighter right foot will make FAR more difference

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