Both petrol and diesel prices rose for the second consecutive month in March.
According to the motoring organisation’s data, the average litre of unleaded cost 122.58p - about 2p more than at the start of the month. As a result, the average cost of filling a typical 55-litre fuel tank rose to £67.22.
At the same time, the average price of diesel also rose, albeit by less. At the start of the month, the fuel cost a little less that 130p per litre, but that has since risen to 130.67p per litre, bringing the cost of a typical fill-up to £71.87.
The increases follow a February that saw prices rise for the first time since October, although the RAC said at the time that those reductions were not as large as they could have been thanks to retailers’ sluggishness to drop forecourt prices when the oil price sank.
Now though, price rises are being passed on to consumers after a four-percent rise in the cost of oil and a two-percent drop in the value of the pound against the dollar - a mix the RAC calls “the worst possible combination for motorists”.
However, the organisation said diesel drivers could fall in the coming weeks if retailers “play fair” with prices.
“March has been another rough month for petrol drivers,” said RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams. “Unleaded has gone up 2p a litre and diesel by just short of a penny. Diesel drivers are particularly feeling the pinch at the moment, as compared to this time last year and the year before a litre is on average 8p more expensive than petrol. Worse still, diesel is also 8p dearer than it was at this time in both 2018 and 2017.
“Throughout March the wholesale price of diesel was on average 6p a litre more than petrol. This gap has now closed which should hopefully bring some relief to drivers of diesel vehicles. If retailers play fair with motorists the price of the fuel should fall by around 3p a litre in the next fortnight whereas petrol looks like it’s set to rise further with at least a penny or two likely to go on in the coming weeks.
“Fortunately, normal competition between supermarket fuel retailers over the price of petrol has resumed after four months of Asda being considerably cheaper than its competitors. Whether this is as a result of keener pricing from the others or from Asda moving its unleaded price closer to its competitors is hard to know.
“Supermarkets play a vital role in UK fuel retailing as despite only having a fifth of forecourt sites they have 45% of the fuel market which means that everyone else selling fuel has little option but to compete with them. And, if there isn’t good competition between them it can mean the UK average price of fuel is adversely affected, to the disadvantage of all drivers.”