Some motorists have driven until they ran out of petrol, while others have dug into savings, gone into overdraft, or borrowed from friends and families to pay for fuel.
Of the 23,824 AA members surveyed, 1% had pawned a possession in the past 18 months, with this rising to 4% for 18 to 24-year-olds.
Also, 1% had taken out a short-term, high-interest payday loan, while 1% had gone to their bank for a loan.
The AA said the big petrol price rises of the past 18 months had even affected those from managerial and professional backgrounds.
AA president Edmund King said: "Fuel price desperation has created a new and sinister twist to the phrase 'driven into debt'."