A mammoth 86% of motorists have called on the Chancellor to bring the price of petrol down to £1 per litre or less, in a huge poll of over 14,000 people.

With only 50p in a typical litre of petrol going to manufacturers and retailers, and the rest taken in tax, the vast majority in the poll of MoneySavingExpert.com users believe fuel is overpriced, with 41% alone saying it should cost £1 a litre.

The news comes as the cost of filling a car is hitting staggering levels.

Petrol prices in the UK stand at an average of 133p per litre for unleaded and 139p per litre for diesel. Meanwhile, the highest recorded price on Tuesday was a mammoth 146.9p and 149.9p for each, respectively.

In September 2000, the country was brought to a virtual standstill after protests over the then typical 82p per litre price of unleaded. While many are prepared to pay more now, 82p bought you a lot more than it does not due to inflation.

Labour is calling on George Osborne to reverse the 2.5% VAT hike on fuel, while the Chancellor has also hinted the planned 1p per litre fuel duty increase may not go ahead in next Wednesday's Budget.

Prices rose dramatically in January following an increase in fuel duty of 0.76p per litre above inflation, as well as the extra 2.5% VAT (see the Cheap Petrol and Diesel guide).

Between February 2010 and February 2011, the average cost of filling up a 50 litre tank increased by £8.35 for unleaded vehicles and £10.10 for diesel vehicles, according to the charity Credit Action.

Poll results

When the poll started (8 March) unleaded prices were roughly £1.30 per litre. Around 80p of this was made of tax and duty so only about 50p goes to manufacturers and retailers combined.

Asked what price they think the Chancellor should help set fuel at by cutting or raising tax, there were 14,014 responses split as follows:

What's a fair petrol price?

Price Those in favour
50p to 90p 45%
£1 41%
£1.10 to £1.50 10%
£1.50 to £2 4%

See the full Petrol poll results.

By cutting petrol taxes, other taxes would need to rise, shifting the burden away from motorists. Environmental groups want higher taxes to deter unnecessary driving. People were reminded of this before voting.

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, says: "There is real anger out there about petrol prices – while inflation is high, it's petrol that's crippling many people's ability to function.

"We're starting to hear some people say their work is unaffordable due to commuter costs. Others complain of fuel being siphoned from their tank.

"The question isn't whether the Government will deal with this in the Budget – it has little choice. But how far it'll go to appease the nation's drivers.

"Remember the three golden rules to keep costs down. Pay less by finding the cheapest forecourt in your area by using free websites such as PetrolPrices.com. Then correctly use cashback credit cards to pay.

"Ensure your car isn't wasting fuel through inefficiency by properly inflating your tyres, not carrying excess junk in the boot and removing unnecessary roof racks.

"Finally, and most importantly, save fuel by driving more efficiently by accelerating gradually without over-revving, drive in the correct gear and slow down more naturally rather than braking sharply."

Further reading/Key links

Drive down costs: Cheap Petrol & Diesel
Find cheap filling stations: PetrolPrices.com