Why Is Fuel So Expensive? Ask Your Local Petrol Station

Just 10% of forecourts are charging a 'fair price'. Here's how to cut your costs.
Joe Giddens via PA Wire/PA Images

Just 10% of England’s forecourts are charging a “fair price” for fuel, according to the RACs latest analysis of petrol and diesel prices.

The vast majority of petrol stations offering fair prices are owned by independent retailers, according to the findings, a change from supermarkets leading the way with petrol prices.

We’ve all heard about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushing up the price of crude oil, at a time when the industry was still feeling the impacts of the pandemic. But RAC’s latest analysis of more than 4,500 forecourts suggests some are taking advantage of the already precarious situation.

The RAC researchers say in the current climate, retailers should be charging nearer 174p per litre of petrol, a staggering 13p per litre cheaper than the current average of 187p per litre. The RAC believe their suggested price of 174p will allow for the reduced wholesale price to be passed to motorists.

The analysis has also revealed that only around 4% (157 retailers) are charging between 170.9p per litre and 179.9p per litre, with the remaining 4,436 retailers charging over 180p per litre.

News for the cost of diesel isn’t much better, with the average cost per litre being 196p. Taking into account the lower wholesale price, the RAC has recommended that 189p is a fair price to charge. However, just 250 of the forecourts have been seen to charge between 180p and 189.9p per litre.

Simon Williams, a fuel spokesperson for the RAC, called on retailers to up their game as the UK faces a cost of living crisis.

“It’s time for every retailer to do the right thing and cut their prices to more reasonable levels,” he said. “Our analysis of this new data shows something else that is very telling. It appears to be the case that it’s no longer the big four supermarkets that lead on price, but instead smaller independent sites are prepared to buck the national forecourt trend.

“Drivers who fill up at supermarket forecourts have every right to feel let down that they are being charged well over the odds for petrol and diesel right now.”

So, how can you save money on fuel?

The Petrol Prices app can be used to help drivers locate the cheapest fuel prices within a set radius of their location. Prices on the app are reported by fellow motorists and although there can sometimes be a time delay, it’ll give you a rough idea.

The RAC has also shared these tips to help stretch the fuel you have in your tank.

1. Make sure you keep up on regular vehicle maintenance.
This includes making sure you service your car at the recommended intervals, these can normally be found in the owner’s manual of your car. In addition, make sure that your tires are inflated to the correct pressures. This can be found again in the owner’s manual, if they aren’t at the correct pressure it results in the car having to work harder, burning more fuel.

2. Be careful with how much you’re accelerating.
High acceleration results in higher fuel burn. So, when you’re within the speed limit, adopt the habit of being in the highest gear possible. By doing this, the engine isn’t revving as high ,which results in less fuel being used.

3. Maintain a steady speed
Linking with your acceleration, losing momentum is another fuel killer. To help combat this, try to anticipate what is going to happen around you. By doing this, it will help you to drive more smoothly, which aids with fuel consumption. This results in less harsh braking and accelerating, which destroys fuel economy.

4. Remove unused roof boxes

With the summer holidays coming into full swing, many motorists will make use of roof rails and boxes, however, they do have a negative impact on your fuel as they create more ‘drag’, making it harder for your car to punch a hole in the air. By removing the roof box when it’s not being used, it can help reduce the ‘drag’ effect and increase your fuel economy.

5. Think big!
A less well-known trick is to do one big journey instead of smaller, shorter journeys. This is because when your car’s engine is warm, it works much more efficiently than when it is cold.