/ Money, Motoring

Have rising petrol prices hit you hard?

Car's fuel gage

Petrol prices have hit their highest level in the UK at almost £1.22 a litre of unleaded. Is the price of fuel hitting you hard, or have you already bit the bullet and ditched your car?

How much will you have to pay for a litre of unleaded petrol in 2011? Well, it’s expected to be over £1.25. You could probably get hold of a decent litre of orange juice for that.

Will a litre of petrol really reach £1.25? Since prices have already hit a record average of £121.76 a litre, as said by Experian Catalist, I’d say it’s almost a dead cert. In fact, it’ll probably go even higher.

Fuel duty and VAT to add next year

January will not only bring new fuel duties (add 1p a litre) VAT is also going up (add another 2.5p on top of that). Oh joy, us drivers have got to put up with a lot don’t we?

Actually, I’m being a big fat liar – I don’t drive, and I’m not that fat due to all the walking I do. In fact, I don’t even have a driving licence. Some people think that means I’m some kind of second class citizen, or that I’m a scrounger for getting lifts off others. But really I use public transport when it works, and I utilise my legs the rest of the time.

Anyway, that’s veering just a little off topic. The price of petrol is higher than it’s ever been and that should quite rightly prompt a gasp. The AA even estimates that it already costs £6 more to fill a car’s tank than at the beginning of the year. That’s two beers, or three Tesco ready-meals.

Use your car less or give it up entirely

George Marshall-Thornhill in the Which? Cars team has already argued that we should think more about the fuel we burn rather than moaning about the costs. This is an argument that some of you didn’t welcome.

Chas Lankester thought that higher petrol prices hit rural areas and people on lower incomes worst, ‘If the petrol increases keep on coming, only the rich will be able to live there’, he adds.

And Malcolm Murray doesn’t even think raising fuel duty will make us use our cars less anyway:

‘The government seem to think that making fuel more expensive will force us to use public transport, but until this is convenient, reliable, cheaper, coordinated and practical, this will not happen’.

But then there are those of you who believe we could try harder to get around in other ways. Robertino says that it’s not rocket science, ‘you simply decide to travel less by car and arrange things differently by adjusting your lifestyle accordingly.’

And Ronald Dewhirst thinks ‘the car is a destructive dodo’, so he’s given his motor up for a bike and hasn’t looked back since. Maybe we could take a leaf out of his book? Or perhaps you rely on your car so much that you have no way out of these rising petrol prices?


As we stay out in the middle of nowhere – which I do appreciate is our choice – we will be hit very hard by further increases in fuel. Public transport is not an option available to us.
However, a consideration not mentioned in this article is the fact any fuel increases effect almost every other aspect of life as it increases the costs of everything else – food being only one of the items that immediately spring to mind.
It will have a knock on effect on the cost of living generally and public transport costs will also have to go up to reflect the additional running costs. After all, buses run on fuel as well.

Yes – It will hit me hard – I’m a pensioner but volunteer to home dogs – So operating in London I get less MPG than others due to congestion. I already operate on a shoe string as my pension has lost about 40% in value since Thatcher removed the link with wages. My state pension is now below the poverty line. I need a car to get shopping too unless I’m expected to shop daily as the amount I need is far too difficult to handle on buses and I’m far too old to walk to the shopping centre daily.

Doreen says:
12 December 2010

We live in a small village, ten miles from a small market town, and 16 miles from a somewhat larger town. Hospitals are either 16 or 25 miles away. We cannot use public transport because my husband suffers a rare bladder disease and public transport do not have toilets. We run a ten-year old car and cannot afford to change it, we are in the less well off group of pensioners, with no cash to spare and savings now depleted.

KeithfromKent says:
16 December 2010

Every year I pay hundreds of pounds in fixed costs – road tax, insurance, MOT and maitenance, so if I use my car less then the cost per mile of using my car goes up, as I get nothing back from any of these.

I am effectively forced to maximise my use of the car to keep the cost per mile down, as I have already paid for these things up front.

As a pensioner I cannot consider the option of cycling, living near several steep hills. And waiting around for buses in this cold weather is hardly likely to encourage me to switch to that mode of transport.

Whatever price fuel reaches, whether due due to crude prices or fuel duty, I shall just have to pay up, which doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help the planet. All it does is put yet more money in the pockets of the oil companies and the government.

Who are these people who have assumed they can defy our sensible laws over speed limits by self appointing themselves as guardians of the “motorist” and blatantly hamper the work of the Police to enforce the law against the imprudent driver to reduce the chances of serious accidents to the often unwary victims?

I we, and they, drove all the time within speed limits there would be more important matters for the Police to follow up!

Why be so antisocial?

the cost of petrol is to high and at some petorl stations you can never stop at the price you want, (ie) if you only want £20 the pump goes to just over, you stop at £19.98 try to stop at £20 and it allways goes to £20.01p , one petrol station said well this is how we make money, other pumps ,the money starts well before you start getting any petrol, the price is high enough without all this going on. i would like to hear from you on this isue.

VF says:
2 March 2011

Should we be focusing on Petrol prices as opposed to Diesel prices usually 5p/litre more that Petrol?
I appreciate that many WHICH? members may be car owners , possibly retired and enlightened sufficiently to have smaller efficient petrol vehicles, but we should remember that the UK plc depends on small businesses to survive, who in turn depend on diesel vehicles and fuel.

Why is the UK the only European country to charge more for diesel than petrol.?
Why has every UK government failed to challenge the unspoken Cartel on UK fuel prices?
Why, if Diesel costs less to produce, gives superior mpg, and fuels commerce and industry, does
our Govmt discriminate against Diesel fuel?
I think its this type of illogic that upsets and demotivates the Consumer