RAC issues warning to all drivers filling up with petrol and diesel in May 2024

Margins on the forecourt have reached a new high, says the RAC which urged action to clamp down on profiteering
Margins on the forecourt have reached a new high, says the RAC which is urging action to clamp down on profiteering -Credit:PA

The RAC has issued a warning to anyone buying petrol and diesel and revealed that prices have soared by 10p so far in 2024. The motoring organisation is calling on the government to take action to stop retailers taking unfair margins on the forecourts.

It’s important to shop around - the difference between pumps within a five mile radius can be as much as 10p a litre. You can use our gadget below to check where the cheapest petrol and diesel can be found in your area.

The 10p rise has added £5.50 to the cost of filling up a family car, data from RAC Fuel Watch showed. Unleaded went up 3p last month to 149.95p while diesel rose by 2p to 157.76p, taking a 55-litre tank of petrol to £82.47 (up £1.70 in April) and diesel to £86.77 (up £1.10 in April).

Use our postcode fuel price checker below to see how much it costs near where you live

The lowest prices for petrol and diesel so far this year were both recorded on 16 January – 139.7p and 147.6p respectively. The RAC said: “With the increases at the pump weighing heavily on household budgets, the RAC is calling on the Government and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to address some glaring issues with fuel retailing which have been brought further to light since the country’s largest retailers first began voluntarily publishing their fuel prices on a daily basis last September.

“The RAC wants the CMA, which is now responsible for monitoring prices alongside overseeing the imminent government-mandated ‘Pump Watch’ scheme, to tackle ongoing issues with unfair retailer margins which lead to drivers getting a raw deal on the UK’s forecourts – something clearly shown in the CMA’s market study which concluded drivers were overcharged by £900m in 2022. “

  • The RAC believes that if the biggest retailers were to charge fairer margins, it would lead to:

  • Fuel prices across the UK mainland coming down to match those charged in Northern Ireland which are consistently 5p a litre (£2.50 a tank) lower

  • An end to the postcode lottery which sees individual retailers often charge wildly different prices at the forecourts they operate – these can vary by an average of 17p a litre from their cheapest to most expensive sites, but can be as high as 36p

  • An end to ‘rocket and feather’ pricing which results in prices on the forecourt going up far more quickly in a rising wholesale market than they come down when wholesale costs fall

  • Those driving diesel vehicles not being consistently overcharged. This is a regular occurrence borne from retailers upping margins on diesel to subsidise the price of petrol

RAC Fuel Watch data for April reveals that retailer margins have increased dramatically, despite the CMA expressing its concern about this very issue at the end of March. The average margin on unleaded currently stands at 9.5p a litre, whereas margin on diesel has rocketed to 18p, up 6p in April alone. The long-term average margin for both fuels is just 8p.