AA Presidents blog

When did I last fill up?

Changes in travel and changes in vehicles affect my fuel usage

When did I last fill up?

Once a year I get a breakdown of my credit card spending and I’m always surprised at how much I spend on petrol. I think last year it was about 30% of total credit card spending. Since March 23rd, 2020 that pattern has changed dramatically. In fact, since then I can only remember putting petrol in three cars. On one occasion I felt sorry for my student son and filled his up as it was on fumes. The other was in my wife’s car on a holiday trip. Apart from one other occasion, the filling station has been a no-go area.

I have had the opportunity to test several electric and hybrid cars since then (see Living with an EV) which no doubt has meant less visits to the filling station. But the main thing that has stopped me driving is COVID-19.


Think back to the late March 2020 lockdown when traffic was down by more than 80%. Streets were eerily quiet. People took to walking, cycling, running. For the first time we saw five-year-old kids cycling on the road with their parents. People walked in the roads as there was no motorised traffic. Evenings and weekends were even quieter. It was a real pleasant blast from the past.

On the ball city!

Even after breaking out of the first lockdown many of us have not gone back to the old normal. More of us are working from home. Fewer of us are driving at weekends as, in my case, there are no championship football matches to attend. Last year in the premiership I drove my sons to every away match we were allowed to attend – save Newcastle United where we let the train take the strain. Even though our beloved Norwich City lost most matches and got relegated, we enjoyed the ride – particularly to Everton where we actually won.

St james park newcastle

Government figures

In the last few months Government figures suggest traffic has crept back to about 80% of pre-lockdown levels. I still find this hard to believe as I venture out on the roads much less than I did before and when I do, I don’t see those pre-lockdown heavily congested roads. The increase in traffic I have noticed is that of white vans delivering home and supermarket shopping items at every other house and the takeaway bikes, mopeds and cars bringing pizzas and curries.

When will I next fill up?

Perhaps never. Like 47% of AA members I am considering going full electric for my next car. Will I miss visiting the filling station? Probably not. My credit card won’t miss it. Perversely the one aspect I may miss is that distinct smell of gasoline. Like cut grass and fresh coffee beans I just love it. Maybe I am a petrol head after all………