Petrol and diesel prices in the UK | Latest fuel price data from the RAC

Latest Fuel Prices

Fuel Watch is the RAC's petrol and diesel price monitoring initiative, which helps ensure retailers are charging drivers a fair price at forecourts.

We monitor both wholesale and retail fuel prices daily, including those at the UK's supermarkets - Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - and urge retailers to pass on cost savings to motorists when they can be made.

What are the current fuel prices? 

 

The prices above are the latest average petrol, diesel and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) prices across supermarket and independent forecourts in the UK, and are updated daily where data is available. Data is provided without warranty.

For the RAC's latest analysis of fuel prices, please visit the RAC Fuel Watch section of our media centre. A guide to understanding fuel prices is also available.

 


 

 

What makes up the cost of a litre of fuel?

The price you pay for petrol and diesel at the pumps is governed by wholesale fuel prices, which in turn, are affected by:

  • the global price of crude oil
  • supply and demand for crude oil
  • oil refinery production and capacity
  • the pound to dollar exchange rate, as refined fuel is sold in US dollars per metric tonne
  • distribution costs
  • the margin fuel retailers decide to take
  • fuel duty charged by the Government, currently 52.95p a litre
  • VAT charged at the end of every forecourt fuel transaction, currently at 20%

While some of these stay largely static - such as the fuel duty rate and VAT - others such as the oil price and dollar to sterling exchange rate can be very volatile. This explains why prices rise and fall. A combination of high oil prices and weak Sterling leads to the highest pump prices.

 

 

How do I find the cheapest petrol and diesel near me?

  • Check the latest RAC Fuel Watch average price. This is displayed at the top of this page. Always aim to pay no more than this average price when you fill up
  • Drive efficiently. This is the best way to save money on fuel, and you can read our guide to saving fuel for more tips
  • Get to know the cheapest filling stations where you live. And look beyond the supermarkets - some independent retailers can be cost-competitive too. Even taking a small detour to visit a cheaper forecourt can save you a few pence per litre, and over 12 months’ motoring that could lead to a sizeable saving
  • Consider credit card cashback. Some credit card companies offer cashback for spending money at filling stations. While it might not actually save you money at the pumps, it will offset higher petrol or diesel prices by putting something back in your account. Just remember to pay off your account within the month or your savings will be cancelled out

 

Petrol prices Q&A

Petrol prices

What are the highest ever recorded petrol and diesel prices?

The highest petrol price recorded was in March 2022, when the average price of a litre was 167.03p. The highest ever diesel price was in May 2022, when the average price was 180.29p.

How low can fuel prices go?

There is a limit to how low prices can go as tax – fuel duty at 57.95p a litre and VAT on the total price, including fuel duty – make up the lion’s share of the price of a litre. Even if the fuel was given away and the retailers didn’t make any profit (take a margin), the price of a litre would still be 70p per litre – 57.95p duty, plus 20% VAT – 11.5p.

This high level of tax affects the price of a litre of fuel significantly. And, when the price of oil is falling it can also create a perception that pump prices are not reducing as much as they should because the lower the pump prices falls, the greater the percentage of tax.

How does the oil price change?

Here is a chart that shows how the oil price has changed over the years. Generally speaking, higher oil prices lead to higher petrol and diesel prices at UK forecourts - and in theory at least, lower oil prices should lead to cheaper pump prices. But there are other variables that affect what we pay when we fill up, including the strength of Sterling compared to the US Dollar (since oil is traded in dollars) and retailers' willingness to pass on wholesale savings they make to drivers.

 

How is fuel taxed?

The total retail price paid at the pump includes a significant amount of tax – 57.95p per litre in fuel duty and 20% VAT.

But the total proportion of tax we pay to the Treasury varies depending on the pump price. For instance, with fuel at 120p a litre at the pumps, 65% of the cost is tax. But at £1 a litre it rises to 75%, meaning 75p in every litre sold goes to for the Treasury.

Fuel duty raises more than £26bn a year, which together with VAT charged on fuel, vehicle tax and ‘showroom’ tax totals, means motorists contribute more than £40bn a year to the Government’s coffers.

How often do pump prices change?

Pump prices change when there are significant and sustained increases or reductions in the wholesale price of petrol or diesel. Retailers can reflect these savings as often or as infrequently as they like.

In reality though the retail fuel market tends to be led by the supermarkets, as despite only having around 16% of UK forecourts they are responsible for some 44% of total fuel sales, so we often see widespread cuts being passed on at the pumps at the same time.

The other factor which affects when forecourt prices are changed is how frequently retailers buy their fuel. Retailers who use greater volumes tend to buy more frequently and are therefore tend to alter their prices more quickly.

What is the ‘rocket and feather’ effect, and is it true?

This is a term often applied to fuel prices to describe how they always appear to rise faster than they ever come down, i.e. they go up like a rocket but fall like a feather.

Before 2020, the RAC believed retailers had a reasonable record of passing on reductions in the wholesale price of fuel to motorists at the pump, but there were occasions where we thought this could be carried out more quickly.

For instance, retailers often seem to take more encouraging to reduce their prices when oil prices are falling than they do when oil goes the other way.

Of course, the longer they hold off cutting pump prices when oil’s coming down, the better it is for their margins, and the reverse is also true: when the cost of a barrel of oil rises, the more they stand to lose if they don’t raise the forecourt price quickly.

 

What is the best fuel for my car? The definitive guide to different fuel types

Why do prices vary by region?

Prices can vary dramatically from region to region and even in towns that are only a few miles apart.

Sometimes fuel can even be cheaper in a more rural location than in an urban one.

Local retail dynamics also play a part. Local prices are very often driven by the presence of supermarkets keen to compete on price or an independent forecourt retailer that is determined to offer the cheapest fuel. If local supermarkets selling fuel don’t compete strongly on price this can in fact lead to motorists paying more.

Why are rural prices often higher?

While delivery costs tend not to play too large a part in the overall pump price, excessive distances from fuel terminals can have a significant effect on prices in rural locations.

It is for this reason the Government has previously taken action to help some of the country’s most rural communities where the price of fuel is deemed to be negatively affecting residents.

In 2012 it introduced a 5p rural fuel duty discount in the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles, and the Isles of Scilly. In March 2015 this was extended to 10 rural mainland communities.

How do fuel prices in the UK compare to the rest of Europe?

Please see our separate full guide to European petrol and diesel prices

How many forecourts are there in the UK?

According to the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA), there are around 8,300 filling stations. This number has reduced drastically from 1970 when there were more than 37,000. 

Supermarkets dominate fuel sales, despite only operating around a fifth of the forecourts. Conversely, independents operate around two-thirds of the country’s filling stations but are only responsible for just over a third of all fuel sold. The remainder is accounted for by sites owned by the supplying oil company, whose name appears on the brand sign (Shell, BP, Esso, Total etc).

How much petrol and diesel is sold in the UK?

The UKPIA reports that each day, 46m litres of petrol and 74m litres of diesel are sold in the UK.

According to HM Revenue and Customs data for 2019, 44bn litres of fuel were used by drivers – 28bn litres of diesel and 16bn litres of petrol.

 

Would I be better off in an electric car?

Quite possibly. Although electricity prices can - and do - vary, if you're in a pure battery electric vehicle and able to charge at home then changes in the oil price won't affect the cost of running your car. Check out our full advice and guides on choosing, charging and running an electric car.

More from RAC Fuel Watch

Petrol prices

If you would like more information or have a question related to UK fuel prices, please email the RAC press office.

Looking to save money on filling up? Read our ultimate guide on how to save fuel.

For complete piece of mind, take a look at our Breakdown Cover and European Breakdown Cover products today.