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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
Heading into 2024, the average cost of motor fuel was £1.48 per litre for ultra low sulphur unleaded petrol and £1.56 per litre for ultra low sulphur diesel. Prices rose into October, but actually fell in November, much to the relief of motorists across the country. Petrol in particular has dropped recently—around 4% in November alone.
Compared to a year ago, everyone is paying less now. Owners of petrol cars paid 8% less at the pump in the end of November 2023 than they did a year earlier; diesel prices were down 15.8% over the same time period.
How Much do Motorists Really Spend on Fuel?
Motorists spend an average of £1,225 a year to fuel a petrol and £1,572 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 6,300 miles a year while diesel cars drive 9,400 miles each year, contributing to higher overall annual fuel costs for the typical diesel car. The annual fuel cost figures below reflect these different mileage numbers.
|Average Cost of Car Fuel||Petrol||Diesel|
|Average distance travelled per year per car||6,300 miles||9,400 miles|
|Average car fuel efficiency||36 mpg||43 mpg|
|Motor fuel used per year||175 gallons||219 gallons|
|Cost of fuel per litre||147.99246 p/litre||156.183276 p/litre|
|Cost of fuel per gallon||£6.72/gallon||£7.1/gallon|
|Average annual cost of fuel for a car||£1,176||£1,552|
*Note: we used average annual mileage figures from 2019, because the 2020 figures were abnormally low due to pandemic-related lockdowns and more recent annual mileage data isn't yet available. We used fuel prices from 27 November 2023.
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 148 p/litre for petrol and 156 p/litre for diesel heading into December 2023), the typical petrol car consumes £187 of fuel for every 1,000 miles travelled; the diesel costs £165—that's 12% less for the diesel car! A few months ago, the 'diesel discount' had all but evaporated but it is now back.
|How Much Does Fuel Cost to Drive 1,000 Miles?|
How much is petrol per mile?
On a per mile basis, the fuel costs in the range of 15p - 20p pence per mile for a petrol car; the fuel costs around 14p - 17p pence per mile for a diesel car. This is roughly 40% to 90% more expensive than the cost to run an electric car per mile—electric cars used to be a lot cheaper to fuel than petrol or diesel cars, but with the high electricity prices this difference has come down making electric cars still attractive, but less so.
And this varies by engine size. A car with a larger engine (higher CCs, larger horsepower) will burn more fuel and have worse fuel economy/a lower MPG. That means cars with more CCs cost more in fuel per mile.
|Cost of Petrol per Mile||Average MPG||Cost per mile|
|up to 1400 cc||46||15p|
|1401 to 2000 cc||42||16p|
|Over 2000 cc||34||20p|
|up to 1600 cc||50||14p|
|1601 to 2000 cc||46||15p|
|over 2000 cc||40||17p|
If you're reading this because you're an employer or employee thinking about per-mile expense reimbursements for work journeys, please read more about this topic here.
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 typical car driving 5,000 miles a year costs around £933 in petrol while one driving 12,000 miles a year costs nearly £2,240 to fuel up.
|Annual Cost of Motor Fuel by mileage||Petrol||Diesel|
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 £929 per year in petrol if their car achieves 55 mpg, while a car that guzzles 25 mpg costs their driver over £2,000 a year at the pump.
|Annual Motor Fuel Costs by Fuel Efficiency (7,600 miles per year, petrol cost of 148p/l)|
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.
NEW! Car Fuel Cost Calculator
Want to figure out how much you're spending based on your mileage, car's MPG and your typical fuel cost? If you're not sure of your fuel costs, you can use current averages which are 1.48 for petrol and 1.56 for diesel per litre (early December 2023). Enter your data into the fuel cost calculator below then click the yellow lighting button below to get your result.
If you'd like some different functionality for the calculator, let us know in the comments section below!