Petrol prices have increased and hit an 18 month high with drivers paying 3p a litre more for both unleaded and diesel.
The latest figures from the RAC reveal soaring oil prices meant that UK drivers took a hit over Christmas as the cost of a barrel rocketed by almost 12% from $49 in November to $54.86 in December.
The company is urging motorists to brace themselves for another round of rises of up to 3p if oil hits $60 a barrel this month.
According to RAC Fuel Watch, in December unleaded was 117.23p a litre compared with 114.24p and diesel was 119.63p a litre compared with 116.56p in November.
It put the cost up by almost £2 more on the cost of filling up an average family hatchback.
Compared with this time last year when oil prices slumped to just $26 a barrel, millions are now paying £8 a tank more for unleaded and £10 more for diesel.
The South East is actually the most expensive area for both petrol and diesel at 117.84p a litre and 120.28p a litre respectively.
Northern Ireland is the cheapest for both, within England, Yorkshire and Humber has the cheapest unleaded at 116.81p a litre and the lowest priced diesel at 119.29p.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The rising oil price is bad news for motorists as it caused a nasty jump in pump prices in the most expensive month of the year.
“The big question now is how much further are they likely to go up, particularly in the long January wait to the next payday.”
Mr Williams said a penny a litre increase was on the cards in the next two weeks.
He warned pump prices could soar by up to 3p a litre and added: “If in the months ahead the barrel price was to get nearer to $60 and the pound was to weaken further then that would be the worst possible combination for motorists.”
How you can save on fuel all year round
- Fill up at busy petrol stations – These stations buy more fuel and can take advantage of falling prices. “The big petrol stations have deliveries every day so they can change the price,
- Choose a big station – Stations buy their fuel on the wholesale market. Just as in any other negotiation, the big buyers are better placed placed to strike a deal.
- Look for a cluster of stations – When several stations are close together, they are much more likely to cut prices to tempt drivers in. “If you are in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, you have much less competition than in the centre of Manchester,” said Renshaw.
- Do your research – The website PetrolPrices.com allows you to compare prices in your area. It also lists the latest average prices, so you know that you are not being ripped off.
- Play the supermarket game – Supermarkets are competing on fuel prices along with everything else. When you’re shopping, keep an eye out for vouchers that offer petrol discounts. But be aware of the overall cost. “That is one way to get prices down below £1, but you do need to buy a lot of food to get that result,” PetrolPrices.com owner Peter Zaborszky said.
- Stop by provincial towns – Airports, motorways, expensive cities and rural areas have the highest charges, according to PetrolPrices.com analysis. “The golden path is down the middle where rent is cheap,” Zaborszky explained.