In May, motorists experienced the steepest increase in fuel prices — over one month — for 18 years. The Automobile Association (AA) warned motorists to expect another price hike this month and said fuel prices will ‘jump to record highs in June’. Unleaded petrol is now, on average, 129.4 pence per litre and diesel is averaging 132.4 pence per litre and could rise still further.

With recent increases in the prices of petrol and diesel, drivers are feeling the pinch, but as we know, prices vary depending on where in the UK you pay for your fuel. In April, PetrolPrices showed you the top 10 most expensive places to fill up in the UK. This time, we wanted to find out the hardest hit areas in the latest fuel price hike and help you spend less when it’s time to fill up.

Top 5 places with biggest price increase from first week of May 2018 to first week of June 2018

Cheshire motorists suffered the biggest price increase for unleaded petrol with a jump of 7.7 pence per litre over the month — the highest average fuel price increase overall, including diesel. With a price hike of 7.3 pence per litre of unleaded, Shropshire didn’t come far behind, at second place. Leicester residents, at fifth highest, experienced an increase of 6.7 pence per litre.

Diesel didn’t fare much better. Derbyshire and Warwickshire drivers have seen their pump prices rise by a respective 6.8 pence and 6.9 pence per litre. Nottinghamshire saw a steep increase of 7.4 pence per litre of diesel.

Motorists in Lincolnshire and Greater London experienced a double-whammy — with a hike in both unleaded and diesel prices — and were in second place on the list of places most affected by a price increase, with Lincolnshire seeing an increase of 7.4 pence per litre of unleaded and Greater London having to pay 7.5 pence more for diesel, per litre.

Unleaded

County Increase in pence per litre
Cheshire 7.7
Lincolnshire 7.4
Greater London 7.4
Shropshire 7.3
Leicster 6.7

Data from PetrolPrices.com

Diesel

County Increase in pence per litre
Greater London 7.5
Nottinghamshire 7.4
Lincolnshire 7.0
Warwickshire 6.9
Derbyshire 6.8

Data from PetrolPrices.com

Postcode lottery

Together with the rising price of oil and the weaker pound, petrol and diesel prices are climbing, but why do prices vary by region?

With fewer customers and less competition, rural forecourts often charge more at the pumps. If these retailers are smaller, independent retailers, they may charge more to cover their business costs.

Big companies, such as supermarkets, are more likely to run the petrol stations in big cities. Due to this, they and can offer more competitive rates. They often have the cheapest prices because petrol stations must compete for a large number of potential customers.

Jason Lloyd, managing director of PetrolPrices.com, said: “There are several factors that come into play when explaining regional variation in fuel pricing across the UK. Often the prices are modelled against how affluent an area is – stations tend to charge more where average earnings are higher. Transport costs can also play a role; how close a refinery is to an area can sometimes make a difference. And brand competition is always something that needs to be taken into consideration; in areas where there are more supermarkets, the price tends to drop as they compete between themselves, and as other stations try to keep up.”

Ways to reduce your fuel costs

Despite drivers not being able to do much about the price of petrol and diesel, motorists CAN reduce what they spend on fuel.

Here at PetrolPrices, our mission is to save you money. If you haven’t already, download the PetrolPrices app. The average user saves £200 a year from using the app. We receive around 8,000 data updates for 98% of the UK fuel market, enabling us to find our members the cheapest available fuel wherever they are.

Here are other ways you can save money on your fuel costs:

Don’t use unnecessary speed. The Department for Transport figures states you’ll use up to 9% more fuel driving at 70mph than you would at 60mph and up to 25% more fuel travelling at 80mph instead of 70mph. The faster you drive, the greater your fuel consumption. Set off a little before you need to, to avoid feeling rushed.

Don’t think slow driving is always best though. To drive well below the speed limit on motorways, etc, is dangerous. It’s also unlikely to save much fuel. Conserve momentum. This is as important for fuel consumption as not driving too fast.

Drive at the lowest speed you can, in the highest gear possible. Car manufacturers quote the most fuel-efficient driving speed as 55/56mph. This depends on your vehicle and several factors, including driving style. Road conditions and gradients mean you can’t always to stick to this ‘ideal’ speed, but you can learn to adjust your driving according to the road ahead. This technique is known as ‘hypermiling’.

Keep the car moving as much as you can. The ability to do this depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road ahead, but slowing down and having to speed up again uses more fuel.

Go gentle on the accelerator. You always have to speed up several times on a journey but that doesn’t mean you have to drive off at speed.

Drive as smooth as you can. It’s the most energy-efficient way of driving and one that will deliver the best fuel economy. Be gentle with the accelerator, brakes, and steering. I try to drive this way and it makes for a much more relaxed journey. Focus in the distance on what’s coming up so you can make adjustments early to prevent a disruption to your flow.

Get clever with hills. Steep inclines destroy fuel economy. To speed up them reduces your mpg. If you spot a hill ahead, slightly speed up before you reach it, then reduce speed as you drive up. The extra momentum should be enough to minimise added consumption.

Keep your engine revolutions low by changing up gears early. You’ll lose speed fast if you let the engine labour. Try to keep the engine speed in the ideal fuel-efficient spot.

Added weight affects fuel economy. On average, every 50kg increases fuel consumption by 2%, so don’t keep unnecessary items in your boot and only half fill your fuel tank if you’re an urban driver. Don’t leave your roof bars on, either — they cause wind resistance and ‘drag’, increasing fuel consumption. Typical roof racks weigh between 3kg-5kg but the aerodynamic factor is more. Empty roof racks increase fuel consumption by around 10%.

Don’t use your air conditioning unless you must. It uses the power of the engine which increases fuel consumption.

Consider making one round trip instead of several short trips. Engines work at their most efficient once warm. Starting a cold engine several times, increases fuel consumption, even though your journey may involve the same amount of miles.

Take a small detour, to a cheaper forecourt If there’s competition between retailers. This can save you as much as a few pence for every litre you buy. Over 12 months of driving you could save a lot of money. Stick not only with supermarkets; independent retailers can be price-competitive, too.

Make the most of supermarket price wars. The big supermarkets often tempt customers into their shops by reducing their fuel prices. Sometimes they’ll offer money-off vouchers at the till, for use at their forecourts. Supermarkets and other fuel retailers often run loyalty card schemes, too. Collect points each time you fill up your tank and spend the points (or exchange them vouchers) for future fuel purchases.

Consider a credit card that offers cashback for use at filling stations. While you won’t save you money right away, you’ll get back something into your account, which can offset the fuel price hikes. Avoid these cards if you don’t always pay your credit card balance in full each month — your savings will get cancelled out by the interest paid.

Keep up with your car maintenance and servicing. Your tyres and brake pads can affect the overall performance and fuel economy of your car. Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure as stated in your owner’s manual. This’ll vary depending on the load you’re carrying, be it a full boot or passengers.

Unless you’re phobic about them use motorways — they’re the most fuel-efficient roads in the country and, statistics show they’re the safest roads, too. If you have cruise control, motorways are the perfect place to use — on a constant flat surface — to increase your car’s fuel economy.

Is your area one of the worst hit by the steep increase in fuel prices? How much are you paying for fuel where you are? What changes have you made to your motoring habits because of the price hike? Let us know in the comments.

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