Motorists are being advised to fill their tanks ahead of a tax hike that will push the price of petrol close to its all-time high.
The Government is lifting the excise tax on petrol by 3 cents a litre next Tuesday and petrol companies are expected to pass on the increase to consumers.
That would put the price of 91 octane petrol up to $2.239 a litre, only 3c off last year's record of $2.269 a litre. When adjusted for inflation, the all-time high was $2.40 a litre in 1981 when Sir Robert Muldoon was prime minister.
The tax hike next week, which applies only to petrol and not diesel, follows last week's 2c increase after the conflict in Iraq triggered a 6 per cent increase in the price of crude oil.
A spokesman for Z Energy said today the company would probably pass on the tax increase, although the exact timing would depend on market conditions at the time.
Independent operator Gull is using the pending tax increase as a marketing opportunity, cutting its top rate for 91 octane petrol by 10c to $2.06 a litre from 7am today until midday tomorrow.
AA PetrolWatch spokesman Mark Stockdale said petrol retailers would probably pass on the full 3c hike, although they may not do so immediately.
"There's no reason fuel companies would absorb that, but it would be nice for the fuel companies to delay that, maybe as a bit of a marketing ploy to give motorists time to fill up at the pump," he said.
However, he said fuel companies would probably absorb the additional GST increase arising from the excise tax hike, as they had in the past.
Stockdale said drivers looking to save money should fill their tanks ahead of the tax increase.
He also advised motorists to reduce fuel consumption by ensuring their tyres were properly inflated.
"If you pump your tyres up the reduction in fuel consumption will be more than 3c a litre," he said.