The average cost of petrol has hit £1 a litre for the first time since October 2008, as rising oil prices and the fuel duty hike feed through to the pumps.
Unleaded fuel has increased since the start of the year, from a national average of 86.1p per litre to 100.1p. For drivers with a 55-litre tank this means forking out an additional £7.70 every time they fill up. The average cost of diesel, meanwhile, is currently 103.8p per litre, up slightly from 102.7p the previous month. The AA says the slower rise in diesel is down to over-supply in the market.
The rise in petrol prices is largely down to the cost of crude oil, which hit a low of $39 a barrel in December before jumping sharply to around $60 today. April’s 2p increase in fuel duty has also played a part in the rise, and this tax is set to increase by 2p again in September.
According to fuel comparison website, PetrolPrices.com, the cost of petrol will increase further in the weeks ahead, as oil prices continue to inflate the cost of filling up your car.
Louise Doherty, spokeswoman for PetrolPrices.com, says: "The spike in oil prices has still not been fully passed on to drivers at the pumps. How high the cost of petrol rises by depends on what happens to oil prices going forward."
Last July, when oil cost $147 a barrel, the average price of unleaded was 119.9p per litre. Since then, oil has fallen in price and a price war between petrol retailers also contributed to pump prices falling back at the start of this year.
According to the AA, drivers in Northern Ireland paid the highest price for unleaded during May at 98.1p per litre, while those in Yorkshire and Humberside paid the lowest price at 97.3p.
Motorists in London and East Anglia, meanwhile, faced the most expensive diesel prices at 104p. In comparison, diesel cost on average 102.6p per litre in Northern Ireland during the month.
The UK isn’t the only country to suffer from rising petrol prices; overseas prices have also risen, the AA reports. However, the UK has the 11th highest unleaded price in Europe and the second highest diesel price.
Beat petrol price hikes
* Shop around for your fuel using websites such as PetrolPrices.com to compare the different rates charged in your area.
* Supermarket forecourts remain one of the cheapest places to fill up your tank. According to the AA, the average cost of supermarket unleaded is 95.7p per litre.
* If you are planning a long drive, fill up your tank before you go and avoid using petrol stations on or near motorways, as a lack of competition means their fuel tends to come at a premium.
* If you are buying a new car, try and take the cost of running it into account. Generally speaking, it makes economic sense to choose a more environmentally-friendly model. Visit dft.gov.uk for the 10 most fuel-efficient cars.
* Make the most of loyalty schemes; Tesco, Sainsbury’s and BP garages all offer schemes where you can collect points on fuel purchases.
* Fuel-efficient driving is another way to keep the cost of petrol down. Stick to the speed limit, keep your tyres properly inflated and ditch unnecessary roof or bike racks. Air conditoning can add 10% to the cost of fuel, according to Which?, so open a window instead.
* Cashback credit cards are also a good way to reduce your monthly petrol bill, as long as you make sure you pay your balance off within the interest-free period.