Petrol prices are on the up as the economy bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic, but drivers could still save a small fortune by topping up at motorway service stations, the latest fuel report suggests.
The AA’s monthly fuel price report said the average cost of a tank has risen £3.15 in the past month as oil and wholesale costs rebound from lockdown lows.
However it said motorists can still pocket substantial savings by shopping at the big four supermarkets and at motorway service stations instead.
“The problem with the latter is that drivers have little way of knowing which motorway forecourts have slashed their prices,” the AA said.
Motorway forecourts are typically some of the most expensive places to top up, but a sharp fall in drivers since March has sent costs crashing.
Between mid-June and mid-July, the average pump price of petrol jumped nearly 6p a litre, from 108.01p to 113.73p a litre.
With 55 litres in a typical car fuel tank, this equates to an extra £3.15 per vehicle.
In the same period, diesel jumped 4.76p, from 112.75p to 117.51p a litre. For a commercial van with an 80-litre tank, a trip to the fuel station is now £3.81 dearer than a month ago.
The lockdown oil price crash forced petrol and diesel prices as low as 106.48p and 111.76p in May. Since spring, the average price of petrol has shot up 7.25p a litre or £4 a tank while diesel has gone up 5.75p a litre.
However, the Big Four supermarkets are currently an average of 6.4p cheaper than major petrol stations.
Elsewhere, out on the motorways, a growing number of service areas are offering petrol at 111.9p a litre for the first time in decades.
Joining the usual ‘oases’ of cheap highway fuel stations are Donington Park on the M1 near Derby, Lancaster on the M6, Frankley at the northern end of the M5 near Birmingham, Tiverton at the southern end of the M5 and Hopwood Park on the M42 near Birmingham.
“Sadly, there are still some motorway forecourts selling petrol at ridiculously high prices above 130p a litre and these continue to fuel the drivers’ general view that you fill up on the motorway only if you are desperate,” the AA’s fuel spokesman, Luke Bosdet, said.
“It would be completely different had the Government introduced fuel price transparency along the motorway network, most probably via a smart phone app that is common in Europe.
“Two years ago, the Competition and Markets Authority wrote to the Department for Transport saying that something needed to be done. So far nothing has been achieved.
“This has led to competitive motorway service area operators, such as Moto, trying to put up price signs close to their sites. However, the AA understands that these have been delayed by red tape until September – the end of the summer holiday season.”