People are taking out loans to keep their cars on the road as the cost of fuel and vehicles rises

Cindy Temple drives a big 4×4.

With petrol prices at record highs – even with the recent fuel excise cut – filling up your 15-year-old Toyota Prado is painful.

“It’s a 150 liter tank,” she said.

“Last time I filled it up, it wasn’t quite empty, and it cost me $350.”

She knows what you’re all thinking: downsize.

But, of course, it’s not that simple.

Ms. Temple has seven children and a grandchild, and her vehicle has rear seats that allow her to support her large family.

“I would probably like to downsize to a smaller car,” she said.

This is because, along with fuel, prices for new and used vehicles are also at record highs.

Disruptions to global supply chains during the pandemic have led major automakers to slow production, making it difficult for new car retailers to replace stock.

“It’s very difficult to get a new vehicle,” said Garry Bailey of the Royal Automotive Club of Tasmania.

“So what we’re seeing is the price of used cars skyrocketing, because people are desperate for a good car.”

According to Australian market researcher Datium Insights, the average price of used cars has increased by 50% since the start of the pandemic.

It means people cling to the car they have.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2021 Motor Vehicle Census, the estimated average age of passenger vehicles in Australia has fallen from 9.8 years in 2016 to 10.4 years in 2021.

Canberrans drive the newest cars, with an estimated average age of 9.4.

Tasmanians drive the oldest, with an average age of 12.9.

This graph shows the average age of vehicles in each state.(ABC News: Paul Strk)

“It has an impact on the family budget,” Mr Bailey said.

“If you have an older vehicle, it’s probably less fuel efficient and you’re probably spending more on maintenance.

“The older your vehicle, the more likely you are to break down.”

A woman gets out of her car.
Cindy Temple says it cost her $350 recently to put gas in her car.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Where are the most fuel efficient cars?

So what makes it so difficult for Tasmanians in particular to replace their old cars?

It could all come down to economics and the cycle of disadvantage.

According to the most recent figures from the ABS, Tasmanians earn less than their mainland compatriots, with a median personal income of $47,352.

And who earns the most? They are those who live in the national capital.

Despite their advanced age, Tasmanian vehicles are not the least fuel efficient.

These are the cars of Queenslanders who consume an average of 11.6 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers.

At $1.91, Tasmanian petrol is the second most expensive, behind the $2.12 you’ll pay in the Northern Territory.

While fueling up in Victoria is the cheapest in the country, with an average price at the pump of $1.78.

When you combine fuel cost and efficiency, the Northern Territory is also the most expensive place to drive 100 miles, while Victoria is the cheapest.

A graph shows how much it costs in various states to travel 100 miles.
A graph shows how much it costs in various states to travel 100 miles.(ABC News: Paul Strk)

People making only “necessary” trips

According to the Australian Automobile Association’s Transport Accessibility Index, Hobart is the cheapest capital city in the country when it comes to the overall cost of transport, when loan repayments, insurance, registration, l maintenance, tolls, public transport and roadside assistance are taken into account.

The average Hobartian spends around $350.14 a week on commuting, while a Sydneysider spends over $477.

However, since Tasmanians earn so much less, they actually spend more of their income on transport than anyone else.

It means Tasmanians like Ms Temple are stuck in a vicious cycle.

They can’t afford to upgrade their cars, which means they spend more to run them, which means they have less or no money to upgrade them.

Far from having the money to spare for a new car, Mrs. Temple cannot afford to go to her appointments.

“Unless it’s necessary I just don’t go. I had a doctor’s appointment in Glenorchy which I canceled as I couldn’t justify the fuel to get there and back” , she said.

“It’s just the bare necessities now.”

However, just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean the bills are pouring in.

Ms Temple has just paid her rego for six months and her vehicle now needs new tyres.

“It’s probably going to be around $1,000, so I’ll try to wait until tax time for that one,” she said.

A woman in the supermarket, buying bread.
Cindy Temple says she can’t afford to go on vacation.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

People who take loans to repair cars

With no disposable income or savings to draw on, people are turning to loans to keep those old cars on the road.

John Hooper works for the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in Tasmania, which provides small interest-free, no-cost loans to low-income people.

“Every fortnight we say, ‘What are the trends we’re seeing?’ and car repairs, car repairs, car repairs are coming in,” he said, “14-17% of our loans go to car maintenance. ‘registration.

A talking man.
John Hooper says loans issued by NILS over the past 12 months are up 25% from the previous year.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

NILS says going into debt to fix his car isn’t ideal, but the alternative is worse.

“The other day a customer told us in a survey that this was the first time he had new tires on his car,” Mr Hooper said.

The number of loans issued by NILS over the past 12 months has increased by 25% over the previous year.

To service these loans, the state and federal governments have increased their financial support for the organization.

“People might say that encourages debt,” Hooper said.

“It’s a very middle-class perspective on how people have to live to survive.”

Their loans also prevent people from turning to higher interest loans, or what Mr Hooper describes as “predatory lenders”.

“We are really concerned about the levels of AfterPay that we see in bank statements, the levels of what we call payday lenders, where people are lending cash to pay their bills,” he said. declared.

“It puts people in a spiral of debt.”

Cars at a gas station.
Tasmanian petrol is the second most expensive, behind the Northern Territory.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

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