With more than 33 million licensed cars on the UK’s roads1 and each covering an average of 5708 miles per year – or 110 miles per week – it’s not surprising that the rising fuel costs are a cause of concern for many road users.
To understand exactly how fuel prices are impacting drivers, Motorpoint surveyed 2,083 car owners to find out how their driving habits have changed.
How much do drivers spend filling up their car?
With prices rising considerably over the last two years, it’s unsurprising that 58% of drivers said they were concerned about the price of fuel.
When it came to the cost of filling up, 75% of drivers said they had noticed that it costs more to put fuel in their car today than it did in January 2022.
We compared the average amount drivers said they spent at the petrol station in January 2023 against the same time period one year earlier:
|January 2023||January 2022||Difference|
In just one year, rising fuel costs have added nearly £9 to every tank of fuel sold in the UK – an increase of more than 21%.
When asked if they felt they were paying a fair price for fuel, 50% of drivers said they felt they were being charged too much.
With the average car needing to visit the petrol station once every eight days, Motorpoint predicts that drivers could find themselves forking out £395 extra for fuel in 2023 – and that’s before factoring in any further price hikes.
When do car owners head to the fuel pump?
With greater concerns about fuel costs, it’s understandable that drivers might try and go as long as possible between visits to the petrol station.
When it comes to filling up, 42% of drivers admitted to waiting for the fuel light to come on before putting fuel in their car.
Despite 93% of drivers knowing that it wasn’t good to drive when your car has low fuel, this didn’t stop all road users from continuing to drive when their fuel warning light was on. In fact, 29% believed they could get more miles out of their tank than the fuel indicator might suggest and 16% admitted to trying to use up every mile of fuel before refilling.
According to Motorpoint's estimates, this means 5.3 million drivers could be at risk of running out of fuel this year when driving.2
How much fuel are people putting in their cars?
With price pressure higher than ever before, Motorpoint wanted to know exactly how much fuel car owners put in their vehicle when they headed to the fuel pump.
Drivers fell into three very clear categories:
|48%||Splash out for a full tank of fuel|
|29%||Aim for at least half a tank of fuel in their car|
|23%||Top up their car by the same amount of money every time|
While 30% of drivers believe that premium fuel can improve your car’s efficiency, the vast majority of those surveyed (88%) still choose to fill their car up with regular fuel.
Of those that put a full tank of fuel in their car, 55% said they filled their car past the pump’s first click – aiming to squeeze as many miles as possible into a single fill up.
Is the price of fuel impacting driving habits?
Between 2020 and 2022, the cost of petrol and diesel in the UK increased by 46% on average.3 With drivers needing to spend so much more to stay on the road, it’s unsurprising that 24% of car owners reported changing their driving habits due to the price of fuel. What’s more, Motorpoint’s survey found that 28% of owners are using their car less due to rising costs.
On a positive note, UK car owners largely understand the driving habits that have the biggest impact on fuel economy and how they can make their fuel go further:
|Under-inflated tyres can impact fuel efficiency||True||70%|
|Leaving your engine on when stationary uses less fuel than stopping and restarting your car||False||84%|
|The way you drive has no impact on fuel efficiency||False||92%|
|The weight of your car directly impacts fuel efficiency||True||63%|
|Driving above the speed limit helps save fuel||False||95%|
How important is fuel efficiency to drivers?
As Motorpoint’s survey shows, fuel efficiency is an important consideration for many drivers when it comes to choosing their next vehicle.
While 34% of drivers said fuel efficiency will be an important consideration when it comes to purchasing their next vehicle, Motorpoint found that 75% of car owners are unclear about what technologies impact fuel efficiency – making it much more difficult to pick the best fuel-efficient car for their needs.
Survey conducted by SurveyGoo on behalf of Motorpoint with a sample of 2,083 UK car owners in January 2023. All statistics and findings have been rounded to the nearest whole number. A full data set is available on request.
- Correct as of 13th December 2022: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/vehicle-licensing-statistics-july-to-september-2022/vehicle-licensing-statistics-july-to-september-2022#car-makes-and-models
- Prediction based on the number of licensed cars (referenced above) and original research carried out in January 2023
- Average increase in UK petrol and diesel prices between 2020 – 2022: https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/fuel-watch/