Motorists looking for cheaper fuel collectively wasting more than £500m every month

11th August 2015


Motorists going out of their way in a bid to find cheap fuel could collectively be wasting £528m every month according to research by MoneySuperMarket.

The price comparison site’s ‘Focus on Fuel’ report found that nearly 43% of motorists would drive out of their way to save just 1p per litre when filling up at the pump.

It concluded that petrol drivers are potentially squandering £303m while diesel users are possibly pouring £225m down the drain as a result.

The analysis has also identified the ‘tipping point’ at which driving extra miles means drivers are wasting money. Going more than two miles out of your way for a 1p per litre saving makes this journey pointless. The benefit of saving 2p per litre is cancelled out by the fuel you will use by driving more than four miles. On the flip side, driving just one mile to pay 5p per litre less on fuel will give motorists a saving of £2.32 when filling a 50 litre tank.

MoneySuperMarket has developed a fuel calculator, to help motorists identify when driving the extra distance for cheaper fuel means making a saving, and when it actually ends up costing them more.

Dan Plant, consumer expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “It’s no surprise cash strapped motorists are seeking out cheaper petrol prices, especially at a time when prices are finally falling – particularly for diesel – at some, but not all, stations. Yet while driving a bit out of your way for cheaper fuel might seem like a simple way of cutting costs, the reality is that it can be a false economy, and could actually cost you more. “To work out whether the detour is worth it, use our quick ‘2-for-1 rule’ – this means never travel more than two extra miles to hunt out each one pence per litre saving. However, if you’re lucky enough to find a five pence price difference, a round trip of up to ten miles should leave you in profit.”

Driving efficiencies

Finding cheaper fuel is just one way of cutting costs; motorists should also consider the way they drive, and how they look after their vehicle. The research found 82% of motorists have adopted measures to curb their fuel usage, such as avoiding harsh braking, trying not to rapidly accelerate and not driving too fast. One in six, at 17%, actively chose a car with fuel efficiency credentials, such as stop start technology. When it comes to making their vehicles more fuel efficient, 60% of drivers keep their tyres at the right pressure and 57% make sure their vehicle is serviced regularly.

Plant added: “There are other ways to cut back by helping to reduce consumption. Avoiding heavy braking, harsh accelerating or excessive speeding can reduce the amount of fuel you use significantly. Keeping your vehicle road worthy is also important. Check your tyres to make sure they are at the right pressure, and ensure your car is regularly serviced as dirty air filters and oil can all have a negative effect on fuel consumption. Always remember heading to a supermarket forecourt can also lead to big savings, with many offering loyalty cards and vouchers.”

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