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There are petrol bargains galore out there, drivers... if you're prepared to look

'Ridin' along in my automobile, My baby beside me at the wheel' ... well, baby or not, it's become one of the most expensive things to do these days -- and driving along 'with no particular place to go', has become a no-no since Chuck Berry's days.

With petrol averaging an all-time high of ¤151.7 a litre, and diesel not far behind, savvy motorists are cutting down on their driving costs.

It's not much reassurance, but we're not even the dearest in Europe -- Belgium, the UK, France and all the Scandinavian countries are more expensive. The poor Norwegians pay ¤1.84 a litre.

Conor Faughnan, of the AA, says we can expect a little moderation of fuel prices. "The prognosis is for no sharp rise, but we're not out of the woods."

"Tax remains the problem, as just 42pc of the cost of petrol is actually for fuel. In 2008 oil prices were $148 a barrel, and petrol was 136c a litre; this year oil hit €120 a barrel, but we're paying 151c at the pump -- this is due to three successive tax hikes by the last government," he says.


And although we're not the most expensive, Conor adds, the difference is that many of the countries with higher fuel charges don't have to contend with other taxes. "In the UK there's no VRT, so the Irish motorist is more heavily taxed overall."

Habits are poor, too.

"You see people using the same service station all the time; they land exactly on €20, and then pay by credit card! Buying by the litre makes you more aware of the discounts offered," says Conor. "Buying 30 litres at 154c costs €46.20, but buying it at 5c less costs €44.70. If you just put in €40 worth you won't see that."

We did a snapshot of Dublin fuel prices, and while we don't advocate driving an extra 5km just for cheaper petrol, we should be more aware. We used comparison website www.pumps.ie which lists petrol stations in every county -- updated by members of the public. The panel, above, shows the best and worst when we looked. The difference between filling a 50l engine from the cheapest to the dearest is €4 -- enough to enjoy a coffee and scone while you're waiting -- or €208 a year if you're filling your tank weekly.