The rising cost of fossil fuel is a recognized phenomenon, but its impact at the household level is still widely unknown. Understanding how the socioeconomic impacts of rising fuel prices might be distributed across urban areas is a critical issue that is necessary for sustainable urban transportation planning. This study has refined the vulnerability index for petrol expense rises (VIPER) framework [previously proposed by Dodson and Sipe Urban Stud 44(1):37–62, (2007)] by incorporating travel survey data to better represent households’ car dependence. Through this modified VIPER framework, we seek to understand how the socioeconomic impact of rising fuel costs will be distributed across the greater toronto area. The findings of this research reveal a pattern in the distribution of oil vulnerability that depicts a three-ring configuration: expanding outwards from the lowest oil vulnerability in the urban core (1st ring), followed by the highest oil vulnerability in the city’s inner suburbs (2nd ring), and a transition to a lower oil vulnerability in the suburban areas (3rd ring). Such results reveal the need for transportation and land use policy measures that tackle the transportation-related social and economic disadvantages due to high fuel prices in the future. The transportation and land use policy measures referred to in this paper focus on the reduction in private automobile use. Therefore, those measures aimed at mitigating oil vulnerability may also have the environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving greenfields.