Drive around with your petrol light on? It’s a red flag for bad money habits: ME Bank study finds

author-avatar By on October 25, 2019
Drive around with your petrol light on? It’s a red flag for bad money habits: ME Bank study finds

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

We all know someone who ignores their fuel light until it’s almost too late, or only fills up the tank halfway to save money. If you’re one of the 1 in 4 Aussies with bad fuel habits, you probably have bad money habits to boot.

A new study by ME Bank has found a connection between bad fuel habits and bad money behaviours.

The survey of more than 1,000 Aussie drivers revealed one in four motorists admit to having bad fuel behaviours, like ignoring the petrol light, not filling up the whole fuel tank, or running out of fuel.

Australians with bad fuel habits were also less likely to display good money behaviours.

ME money expert Matthew Read said bad fuel habits could indicate you’re only focused on short-term benefits, not the bigger picture.

“If you’re someone who throws caution to the wind, ignoring your fuel light until it’s almost too late, there’s a pretty strong chance this type of behaviour extends to other parts of your life, including your money management. And the results confirm this,” Mr Read said.

“Like poor money management, bad fuel habits can be categorised as behaviour with short-term benefits, and relate to a sense of control and organisation. In the long-run, this type of behaviour can increase overall effort, stress and in some cases may end up costing you more.”

Petrol prices drive Aussies to ditch cars

The same survey also found that 79% of Aussie motorists are choosing alternative modes of transport because it’s getting too expensive to drive their car.

But leaving the car at home isn’t always the most practical solution as 41% of drivers are opting for the cheapest fuel instead as a way to keep their driving costs down.

Additionally, 82% use fuel vouchers to get discounts, but only 24% are using vouchers every time they fill up at the bowser.

When asked how far they would be willing to travel to get the best fuel price, 25% of motorists said they’d be willing to drive up to 10km for cheaper fuel.

Despite finding fuel expensive, 18% said they wouldn’t bother shopping around for a lower price.

The survey also found the costs associated with car servicing places a financial strain on 53% of car owners.

Of those who said they felt financially strained, 75% bite the bullet and service their car anyway, while 25% decided not to service their car because it was too expensive.

Mr Read warns doing so “might end up costing people more in the long-run if lack of maintenance turns into a big issue down the track”.

“Cars require ongoing maintenance, but it also doesn’t have to cost a bomb. There are ways to manage your spend, and it pays to be savvy about the way you maintain your vehicle and fill up your tank.”

Car subscriptions could be the answer to the costs of car ownership. Earlier this week, Hyundai announced it would be joining car subscription service Carly to allow motorists to subscribe to their vehicles.

Carly CEO Chris Noone said his car subscription platform is an alternative to saving for, leasing or borrowing money to buy a car and offers access to a range of new and used vehicles including insurance, registration and maintenance packaged into a single monthly payment with no long term commitments. 

“Subscribers can start, pause and stop their subscription and ‘switch’ cars as their needs change. This could be a short term switch to a vehicle more suitable for a holiday, a longer-term switch to cater for increasing family size, or pausing a subscription due to an extended holiday,” Mr Noone said.

Looking for a low rate fixed car loan? The table below displays some of the lowest fixed car loan rates on the market for used cars.

Company Advertised rate Comparison rate* Monthly repayments  
Car Loan (Dealer Only) 4.89% 5.44% $188 More details
Used Car Loan Fixed 6.45% 6.66% $195 More details
Personal Loan Secured 6.45% 6.80% $195 More details
Secured Personal Loan 6.49% 6.88% $195 More details
Car Loan Secured 6.69% 7.04% $197 More details
Fixed Car Loan 6.79% 7.16% $197 More details
Secured Car Loan Fixed 6.99% (up to 9.49%) 8.05% (up to 10.53%) $198 (up to $210) More details
Ad rate Comp rate* Repayments
Car Loan (Dealer Only)
4.89% 5.44% $188
More details
Used Car Loan Fixed
6.45% 6.66% $195
More details
Personal Loan Secured
6.45% 6.80% $195
More details
Secured Personal Loan
6.49% 6.88% $195
More details
Car Loan Secured
6.69% 7.04% $197
More details
Fixed Car Loan
6.79% 7.16% $197
More details
Secured Car Loan Fixed
6.99% (up to 9.49%) 8.05% (up to 10.53%) $198 (up to $210)
More details

*Data accurate as at 2 December 2019. Rates based on a loan of $10,000 for a five-year loan term. Products sorted by advertised rate, then by company name (A-Z). Repayments are calculated based on advertised rates. View disclaimer.


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author-avatar
Emma joined Savings.com.au as a Finance Journalist in 2019. She is a journalist with more than five years experience across print, broadcast and digital media, with previous stints at Style Magazines, 4ZZZ radio, and as editor of The Real Estate Conversation. She's most passionate about improving the financial literacy of young women and millennials by writing about complex financial topics in a way that's easy for the average Joe (or Jill) to understand. When she's not writing about finance she's watching Greys Anatomy (again).

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