Money-saving motorway diversion

20 million bank holiday drivers could save £24 by avoiding motorway fuel stations 

Posted on 25 Aug 2017

The 20 million2 drivers on the roads over the bank holiday would need to divert 10 minutes3 off the motorway to make savings.
Biggest savings to be had are on fuel (diesel, £10.25)4 (petrol, £9.35)5 and car oil (£10.25) by diverting to nearest supermarket alternative.
Diesel is 18.7p pricier at motorway service stations, while petrol is 16.6p more expensive than supermarkets.
Nearly half (46%) of UK drivers have avoided re-fuelling at a motorway fuel station and have driven 5 miles on average to find a cheaper alternative. urges motorists to compare pumps online to find the cheapest fuel along their journey using the online fuel tool.

As 20 million2 UK drivers take to the roads for the bank holiday weekend, new research reveals those planning a motorway journey can save money with one simple trick.

A UK-wide mystery shop by, the car savings site, reveals drivers can save a savvy £24 off the cost of their fuel and snacks basket, on average, by simply avoiding motorway service stations and driving to the nearest supermarket instead. The shoppers found that this saving could be gained with just a 10 minute drive off the motorway – equivalent to a 5.7 mile diversion, on average3.

The mystery shoppers were asked to visit motorway service stations across the UK and purchase as fuel, as well as convenience items such as sandwiches, crisps, water, chocolate, confectionary and car oil. This landed them with an eye-watering bill of £103.49 or £101.95 on average, the price varying slightly depending on fuel type (diesel and petrol, respectively). They then drove to the nearest supermarket to compare prices, where the average fuel and snacks bill coming to a less-alarming £79.20 (diesel) or £78.56 (petrol).

Total savings: Motorway service stations/supermarket fuel stations


Average price



Motorway service / fuel station

Supermarket fuel station


(difference in price)



£72.05 per tank


£61.80 per tank


10.25 per tank



£70.51 per tank


£61.16 per tank


£9.35 per tank

1 litre of car oil
























Soft drink




Total bill

£103.49 (diesel)

£101.95 (petrol)

£79.20 (diesel)

£78.56 (petrol)

£24.29 (diesel)

£23.39 (petrol)

The biggest saving to be had was on fuel, with drivers of a medium-sized diesel car expected to save £10.25 off the cost of filling up their tank by driving to the nearest supermarket. This is a considerable saving when the overall cost of filling their tank at a motorway service station is an eye-watering £72.05 compared to the supermarket price of £61.80.

Drivers of a similar sized petrol-fuelled car could also save £9.35 by diverting off the motorway, with the average cost of filling up at a motorway service station coming to £70.51 compared to £61.16 at the nearest supermarket.

In fact, diesel was a substantial 18.7p pricier at motorway service stations, while petrol is 16.6p more expensive despite a short distance between the two locations. And with the average driver filling up their tank on the motorway 11 times a year, diesel and petrol car owners could make an annual saving of £112.75 and £102.85 respectively. Bumper savings were also available on the purchase of car oil, of which there was a £10.25 difference for the price of a 1 litre can.

Given the steep difference in pricing it’s little wonder three quarters (75%) of drivers try to avoid purchasing fuel from motorway service stations. In fact, almost nine of out 10 (87%) say they avoid it because they find it too expensive and many take measures to ensure they can avoid the cost. Almost one in two (46%) have cottoned on to the diversion trick and have driven off the motorway to find cheaper fuel at another fuel station nearby, driving 5 miles on average to get a better deal. Nearly nine in 10 (86%) have also ensured they have enough fuel before heading onto the motorway.

With drivers able to make substantial savings on fuel by simply diverting 5.7miles on average to the nearest supermarket, it’s little surprise many are willing to take advantage of’s tip and go the extra mile to get the best price. The research shows the average motorist would be willing to drive up to 6 miles to save £10 off the cost of filling their tank.

At a time when motoring costs are rising across the board, it’s little surprise many UK drivers are becoming increasingly thrifty, with the average driver saying they would be encouraged to divert off the motorway to save as little as £5. 

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “Our mystery shopper research shows it pays for drivers to be savvy about where they purchase their fuel and other convenience items when they’re on the motorway. For the sake of a 10 minute diversion and a saving of £24 on your fuel and journey snacks, it makes sense to go the extra miles.

“Drivers who want to plan ahead for the bank holiday weekend can search for the cheapest fuel prices online using fuel price comparison  so they know they’re getting the best deal before they head out on the road.”


Notes to editors
Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive regularly. The research was conducted between 10th August 2017 and 15th August 2017.

All prices are based on a mystery shopping exercise conducted by between 4th and 16th July 2017, unless otherwise stated. The activity analyses 20 of the 81 motorway service stations in the UK vs nearest supermarkets.
1. Combined savings figure calculated across average price differences at motorway service stations and supermarket fuel stations for items listed in the press release table. This figure features the price difference on a 55 litre tank diesel car.
2. DVLA figures show there are 45.5 million driving licence holders in Britain (Sept 2014) – 44% (the percentage of people who will be driving over the bank holiday weekend) of this equals 20,020,000 (rounded down to 20 million).
3. This is based on the average distance in miles and minutes (according to Google Maps) between the motorway fuel stations and the corresponding supermarket fuel stations represented in the survey.
4. Based on filling up a medium-sized car with a 55 litre diesel tank. Calculation based on the average price of diesel at a motorway service station vs supermarket (131p vs 112p) according to a mystery shop conducted by
5. Based on filling up a medium-sized car with a 55 litre petrol tank. Calculation based on the average price of petrol at a motorway service station vs supermarket (128p vs 112p) according to a mystery shop conducted by


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Launched in 2002, was the UK's first digital marketplace for car insurance and is one of the leading brands in the sector, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the years to include home insurance, van insurance, motorcycle insurance, and car finance comparison, as well as a number of tools designed to save consumers money. is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an objective and unbiased service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more.’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators.

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