With garages locked in a price war, the cheapest lcoation for a litre of fuel can change from one day to the next. We need to be able to keep track of what the cheapest petrol and diesel is given how volatile the market is at the moment.
So how on earth do you find where the cheapest fuel is if you’re travelling or commuting? Especially when prices are as steep as they are now?
Here’s your complete guide to tracking down the cheapest petrol and diesel near you.
Latest average petrol and diesel prices in the UK right now
First, let’s set a baseline. What are the average prices for petrol and diesel in Britain right now? The RAC has a Fuel Watch tool that lets us find out.
As of mid-July 2019, it says diesel is 131.2p per litre (and likely to come down), unleaded petrol is 128.2p (with no change forecast) and super unleaded is 140.2p.
In the Norfolk/Suffolk/Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire areas that I often frequent, I don’t have to go too far to find petrol at 123p for a litre. Diesel is still pretty steep, at around 128p.
So there’s your target petrol and diesel prices right now: let’s see how to get the cheapest fuel near you…
If you’re in a new car with a built-in SIM card and the latest infotainment system – for instance, an Audi equipped with Audi Connect – your route to the cheapest fuel in your area should be very swift indeed.
Audi Connect utilises an online database to find fuel stations with the cheapest fuel options for you. Simply follow your way through the infotainment to the petrol stations icon where it says “Refuel for the best price” (see image above).
Many manufacturers over the past couple of years have been taking similar measures to get connected and will likely offer a similar service – it’s worth asking the salesman as you shop around for the best car deals. Great stuff if it works…
And if it doesn’t… Waze is a free user-supported navigation app for iPhone and Android. Accident alerts, roadworks, camera locations and more are fed in as contributions from people using the app, thereby keeping information up to date for the entire user base in that local area.
That user contribution-based system isn’t limited to route planning, either. One incredibly useful feature is the fuel station finder complete with, you guessed it, prices to match. If the BP up the road from your hotel is a bit heady at 129p a litre, Waze might show you a Tesco 5 miles away that’s down at 124p. We are quite literally dealing with pennies here but if you have a long journey ahead, you’d save £2.50 on a 50-litre fill-up.
What are the drawbacks? Well, depending on where you are, the user-supported nature can be patchy. In busy urban areas, it’s great. Savvy commuters are always online, keeping the app’s information fresh on all of the above, including fuel prices. Find yourself further out in the sticks, however, and it falters. The user base is Waze’s most precious resource and if that dries up, well, so does Waze. The ads can get irritating, too, but ads make the world go round!
Regardless, it’s a handy first port of call to have installed on your phone.
Price comparison websites
We mean that in the actual confused.com sense, and its dedicated cheapest fuel price finder near you tool.
Firstly, the former… Sign up for free, pop in your postcode, tick whether you want stations that are open at that particular time and away you go. It’s a clean and crisp facility. The semi-regular weekly update can catch you by surprise price wise if there’s a sudden hike in between updates.
By and large, the cheapest stays the cheapest, though, regardless of universal hikes. One thing none of these facilities can do is keep prices down… The main drawback really is that you’ll have to search for your chosen watering hole on a map separately.
That’s where petrolprices.com comes in, in a manner of speaking. Like Confused, you plug in your postcode but the filling stations come up on a map within a radius around your chosen postcode. It seems to be the best of the website-based facilities that feature a map.
Where petrolprices.com falters is in its clunkiness (we suspect due to the ads) and the fact that to get rid of them, it’s a £20-a-year subscription as standard. Whats more, some of the fuel stations, while marked out on the map, are kept anonymous. It’ll only show you all of them if you get that subscription. You may prefer to use confused.com and search the station on a map.
Know your brands
One thing it’s easy to overlook is just having a general knowledge of fuel station brands. The general rule is that supermarket filling stations are cheaper than branded stops like Shell, BP and so on. Especially if you’re in the market for the juicier stuff. We found in a recent stop at Tesco that Momentum (99 Octane) came in at the same price as the standard 95 stuff from a nearby Shell.
Want proof? The AA produces a regular report on fuel prices, and the results are conclusive. The average at supermarkets is near enough always cheaper than the national average – in the case of June, 3.2p cheaper than the average.
A general rule of thumb? Stay well away from motorway service stations, unless you want to pay a healthy premium for a litre over literally anywhere else.
So if you’re really stuck in an area you’re not familiar with and want a safe bet on cheap fuel, simply ask someone where the local supermarket filling station is.