The RAC has its say on hoarding fuel in your home


With reports of drivers filling containers and even plastic bottles during the worst of the fuel delivery crisis, the RAC is today informing drivers of the law around storing fuel at home.

While the law says you can store up to 30 litres of petrol at home without a licence, that doesn’t mean you should in the current situation, according to the RAC.

A spokesman said: “Stockpiling fuel at home when fuel deliveries are disrupted only makes it more difficult for others to get the petrol or diesel they need and homeowners may be putting themselves and others at risk from fire.”

On Saturday, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) warned that fuel shortages are getting worse in some parts of the country.

Brian Madderson said it remains a “really big problem”.

Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement that military drivers are to be deployed from Monday, but he warned it will only have a limited impact.

He said rising world oil prices mean motorists should expect higher prices at the pumps when filling stations are resupplied.

“Expect anything from 1, 2 or even 3p a litre increases at the pump. This is not profiteering. This is genuine wholesale price increases causes by global factors.”

What does the law say on keeping fuel at home?

An individual is allowed to store up to 30 litres of petrol without a special licence. There is, however, no specific legal requirement on the storage of diesel in your home.

How should petrol be stored?

Petrol must be stored in the right container: always use proper container that is designed for use with petrol, and make sure it has a tight-fitting cap. You’re allowed to store up to 10 litres in a plastic container, up to 20 litres in a metal ‘jerry’ can and up to 30 litres in a demountable fuel tank, such as from a small boat. Storing petrol is a fire risk, so keep it in a secure outbuilding – like a shed or garage – that is away from any sources of ignition and is cool and well ventilated. Never store it outside or inside your house, and of course keep it well out of the reach of children and pets. While diesel is not flammable like petrol, it can still pose a danger, so it’s advisable to follow the same steps.

How long can I keep fuel for?

Petrol has a shelf-life of around six months if stored in a sealed container at 20 degrees – or just three months if kept at 30 degrees. The more it’s exposed to heat, the more quickly it will go off. If the petrol is contaminated in any way, the quality will start to fall away sooner.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Just because it’s legal to store up to 30 litres of petrol at home, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do when so many drivers have been struggling to get the fuel they need to go to work and carry out their important daily tasks. Those who need to should follow the law carefully to keep themselves, their families and neighbours safe. Petrol should always be kept in the proper containers in an outbuilding and never left outside.”

With drivers having to go from forecourt to forecourt looking for petrol and diesel, driving fuel efficiently has suddenly become much more important. Fortunately, there’s also lots you can do to get as much out of a single tank of petrol or diesel as possible. Try these tips:

Drive with a light right foot

The way you drive has the biggest impact on how much fuel you use. Accelerate and brake gently, and in a manual car drive in the highest gear possible (while staying within the speed limit of course). This keeps the engine’s revs down and saves fuel.

Try to maintain momentum

Slowing down (and stopping) and then having to build speed back up again wastes fuel, so as far as you can anticipate what’s happening up ahead and adjust your speed smoothly using the gears. For instance, if you can see traffic lights ahead are red then approach more slowly and you may not need to stop at all. Good for your mpg, and you’ve kept moving!

Combine your journeys

Cold starts increase your car’s fuel consumption, whereas a warm engine is a much more efficient one, so try to make one round trip rather than lots of separate ones where you’re switching off and then back on again.

More tips on fuel efficient driving can found: www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/fuel-saving-tips/

Simon Williams said: “The recent events have thrown into sharp focus just how dependent many of us are on our cars, whether that’s getting to and from work, shopping, attending urgent medical appointments or going to see friends and family. While we all hope not to see a return to the worst of the forecourt delivery problem but if we do, it’s worth knowing what to do to conserve as much fuel as possible – and even in normal times, driving more efficiently can save drivers money.”

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