It’s the end of summer and as we watch the hours of daylight decrease, we can’t say the same of fuel prices. The AA’s latest figures show that UK petrol prices have hit a four-year high, despite the recent drop in the cost of oil.

The average price of unleaded petrol is now 130.2 pence per litre—the most expensive since August 2014—meaning it now costs almost £72 to fill up the tank of a typical family car. Meanwhile, drivers of diesel vehicles are coughing up around £73 to refuel, with diesel averaging 132.8 pence per litre. Fuel prices rose by just under 13.2p per litre in a year, meaning a tank of petrol is now over £7 more expensive.

Supermarkets still cheapest

The price of oil peaked at more than $80 per barrel in July, having been on the rise since the unease in the Middle East after President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Prices have again fallen, with Brent Crude down to $76.21 per barrel, but UK motorists aren’t yet enjoying any pump price reduction.

Supermarkets are still the cheapest forecourts by far. At the time of writing, our data shows the average price of Asda unleaded petrol is 125.1 pence per litre with Sainsbury’s averaging at 126.6p and Tesco at 127.4p. Compare this to 131.7p at Shell and 132.2p at BP.

Average August city fuel prices—in pence per litre (ppl)

City Unleaded Diesel
Manchester 128.2 131.3
Nottingham 130.4 134.2
Sheffield 130.8 133.5
Birmingham 131.4 134
Leeds 130.5 133.2
Glasgow 129.4 132
Southampton 131.5 132
Liverpool 130.1 133.2
Newcastle 129.8 132.3
London 128.1 131.4

Data taken from database and correct as of 28th August 2018

Average August brand fuel prices—in pence per litre (ppl)

Brand Unleaded Diesel
BP 131.3 133.8
Shell 130.1 133.3
Esso 128.9 132.1
Tesco 131.4 134.1
Sainsbury’s 129.6 132.7
Morrisons 130 133
Asda 130 132.8

Data taken from database and correct as of 28th August 2018

An increase in petrol and diesel prices over summer may seem acceptable and in line with other goods and services companies trying to boost seasonal sales, but the AA says fuel is a basic necessity used to get people to work, children to school, and for buying groceries.

The organisation argues that consumers aren’t able to respond as they would when other traders increase prices, by switching to seasonal produce or buying a more affordable choice, as they can with food.

Is the oil industry ripping off UK motorists?

The AA, who gathered the data, said many drivers ‘will smell a rip-off’ and warned that millions of pounds are being ‘syphoned off’ by the oil industry. They added that because prices trade in US dollars, the fall in the value of the pound sterling has made fuel more expensive.

Luke Bosdet, AA’s fuel price spokesman, said: “This week, holiday drivers should have been thanking their good fortune that a 3p-a-litre saving from a $6-a-barrel fall in the price of oil is making their vacation cheaper than in June.

“Instead, the cost is worse, because of pumped-up commodity prices and Brexit scares spooking the value of the pound.”

The Office for National Statistics says transport is the largest expense for the average UK household. The AA reports that up to 40% of their members have to budget a set amount to spend on petrol or diesel. This means when petrol prices rise or stay at artificial highs, these motorists must take money from other parts of their budgets just to cover their essential travel costs.

While we hope for a price reduction…

Although motorists have no control over the cost of petrol and diesel, we can all make savings when it comes time to fill up our tanks.

PetrolPrices aim to help you save money and the average PetrolPrices user saves £220.20 each year by signing up for free. With almost 8500 data updates for 98% of the UK fuel market received each day, we’re able to find the cheapest available fuel for our members, wherever they are. If you haven’t already, download the PetrolPrices app.

For more ways to save money on fuel costs, consider the following tips:

Engines are most efficient once warm, so try to combine smaller errands instead of making lots of short trips. Starting a cold engine increases the fuel consumption of your car even though your journey may involve the same number of miles.

Keep up with your car maintenance and servicing. Your tyres and brake pads can affect fuel consumption and overall performance of your car. Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure as stated in your owner’s manual depending on the load you’re carrying.

Make the most of the motorways—they’re the most fuel-efficient roads in the country and the safest roads, too.

On average, every 50 kg increases fuel consumption by 2%, so only keep what’s necessary inside your boot, and only half fill your fuel tank if you’re an urban driver.

Reduce your speed. The Department for Transport says drivers use up to 9% more fuel driving at 70mph than when travelling at 60mph and a staggering 25% more fuel by travelling at 80mph instead of 70mph.

Steep inclines use up a lot of fuel. When there’s a hill ahead, increase your speed somewhat, then reduce it as you drive up the hill. The extra momentum should minimise extra fuel consumption.

Do you think forecourts should lower their fuel prices now the cost of oil has reduced? Do you agree with the AA’s view that petrol and diesel are a basic necessity—or is it a luxury item? How much are you paying for fuel where you are? Let us know in the comments.

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