Petrol and diesel prices have not fallen yet

The cost of petrol and diesel has not fallen at Irish pumps yet according to the August survey of prices from the AA. Petrol costs an average of 151.9 cent per litre, diesel 143.6 cent in August, up 2.6 cent and 2.5 cent respectively on the average figures for July.

“That’s the bad news, but we hope that there is good news coming,” says director of policy Conor Faughnan. “The recent falls in global stock markets may be a big cloud on the economic horizon but it does come with a silver lining. Oil prices have fallen in the last few weeks and that is just beginning to come through to the pumps here in Ireland. We can be fairly confident of falling prices over the next 3-4 weeks. Whether that is sustained as we go on into autumn is a matter for speculation but we do expect to be reporting a fall in average prices next month.”

This will come as a relief for motorists who are currently paying 12-13 per cent more for their fuel than they were 12 months ago.

The AA is asking the Government to consider the plight of ordinary consumers as they set about framing next December’s difficult budget.

“Fuel taxes were hiked on three successive occasions by the last Government, and we want to see that trend reversed,” says Faughnan.

While the AA recognises that the Government’s options are limited in the current climate, the motoring organisation points out that: “Like it or not, the Irish economy is extremely oil-dependent. When fuel prices go up it sucks disposable income out of the pockets of ordinary families. It also adds substantially to the cost of business and that too has effects throughout the economy. Some 96 per cent of Ireland’s freight moves by road. We may not be able to do anything about world oil prices but we can control domestic taxes. High fuel prices worsen our competitiveness and hamper our recovery.”

High prices also have other consequences. The AA is receiving more complaints about bad quality diesel fuel. Laundered diesel is more common than many motorists realise. Quite apart from being illegal, laundered fuel can damage engine parts and can lead to a costly repair.

“We always advise our members to shop around and look for the best price but you have to be sensible,” says Faughnan. “If you buy diesel for a miraculous price from an unconventional source, don’t be surprised if you wind up having to call the AA when the car breaks down.”

The AA’s fuel-saving tips

• Buy fuel in units of litres, not euros. This makes it obvious where you get the best value.

• Shop around: don’t always use the same garage out of habit.

• Drive smoothly and slowly; a harsh driving style burns more fuel.

• At this time of year the heaters are in constant use. This is hard to avoid but try to take it easy: Air conditioners can add up to 10 per cent to fuel usage.

•Don’t use the air conditioning all the time: once the air conditioning has heated the inside of the car, you may be able to turn it down or off.

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