Motor Insurance

Average Cost of Petrol for a Car 2021

With fuel prices up again, motorists are on track to spend over £1,000 on petrol or diesel per car this year. See how much gas a typical petrol or diesel car guzzles each year and find out what you'll spend depending on your average mileage and the fuel efficiency of your own car.

Fuel is one of the biggest costs of car ownership next to the cost of car insurance, consuming a significant portion of the typical household budget. See how much motorists really spend at the pump each year.

Average Cost of Petrol per Litre

In July 2019, the average cost of motor fuel was £1.27 per litre for ultra low sulphur unleaded petrol and £1.32 per litre for ultra low sulphur diesel. Owners of petrol cars paid 1.8% more at the pump in the summer of 2019 than they did in 2018 on average; diesel prices were up 1.5% over the same time period.

chart showing the average cost of petrol and diesel per litre in the UK
Motorists continue to pay more at the pump

How Much do Motorists Really Spend on Fuel?

Motorists spend an average of £1,042 a year to fuel a petrol and £1,265 for a diesel, for cars with average fuel economy. While diesel costs less money to buy and diesel cars get better gas mileage, diesel drivers tend to accumulate more miles on their cars each year—petrol cars rack up around 6,600 miles a year while diesel cars drive 9,400 miles each year, contributing to higher overall annual fuel costs for the typical diesel car.

Average Cost of Motor Fuel per yearPetrolDiesel
Average distance travelled per year per car6,600 miles9,400 miles
Average car fuel efficiency36 mpg43 mpg
Motor fuel used per year183 gallons219 gallons
Cost of fuel per gallon125 p/litre130 p/litre
Average annual cost of fuel for a car£1,041.81£1,265.10
chart showing the cost of petrol and diesel for UK cars
Motorists spend around £1,000 a year on motor fuel

Annual Cost of Motor Fuel per 1,000 Miles

The amount you spend at the pump each year depends on three factors: your annual mileage, the fuel efficiency of your car and the cost of fuel. Given average fuel efficiency of 36 mpg for a petrol and 43 mpg for a diesel and recent fuel prices (around 125 p/litre for petrol and 127 p/litre for diesel), the typical petrol car consumes £157.9 of fuel for every 1,000 miles travelled; the diesel costs £134.3 or 15% less.

How Much Does Fuel Cost to Drive 1,000 Miles?
chart showing the cost of petrol and diesel per 1,000 miles driven
Motorists spend £134 to £158 on fuel to drive 1,000 miles

How much does fuel cost per mile of driving?

On a per mile basis, the fuel for a petrol car costs around 15.8 pence per mile and for a diesel car costs around 13.4 pence per mile. This is around 3X more expensive than the cost to run an electric car per mile.

Annual Cost of Motor Fuel by Mileage

Your fuel costs may be significantly lower or higher, however, depending on your typical average annual mileage. Below, we've calculated annual fuel costs for the average car for a range of mileages. For example, a car driving 5,000 miles a year costs around £790 in petrol while one driving 12,000 miles a year costs nearly £1,900 to fuel up.

Annual Cost of Motor Fuel by mileagePetrolDiesel
chart showing cost of car fuel depending on annual mileage

Annual Cost of Motor Fuel by Fuel Economy

The fuel efficiency of your car has a drastic impact on how much your car costs you each year to run. Cars with the best fuel economy (e.g., the Skoda Octavia which achieves around 67.3 mpg in the real world) cost a fraction of the price to run as a car with poor gas mileage (e.g., Land Rover Discovery or Mercedes S500 that get only around 26-27 mpg). For example, a motorist that clocks the average of 7,600 miles per year would pay just £785 per year in petrol if their car achieves 55 mpg, while a car that guzzles 25 mpg costs their driver £1,440 a year at the pump.

Annual Motor Fuel Costs by Fuel Efficiency (7,600 miles per year)
25 mpg£1,727.5
30 mpg£1,439.6
35 mpg£1,233.9
40 mpg£1,079.7
45 mpg£959.7
50 mpg£863.8
55 mpg£785.2
60 mpg£719.8
65 mpg£664.4
70 mpg£617.0
chart showing cost of car fuel depending on car fuel economy

Newer cars tend to have better gas mileage as technology improves. So if your car is on the older side and you're spending too much at the pump, a new car upgrade might actually save you some money in the long term. Finally, implementing tips to improve your car's fuel efficiency can reduce your overall motor fuel bills.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.