Counting the cost of fuel

Off the fence
Every cent adds up filling the tank

Off the fence

Anton McNulty

You know you’re getting old when the topic of conversation is the price of petrol and diesel around the county and comparing which garage is the cheapest and who to avoid.
When you were younger you would hear older people talk about their journey from Galway and compare the price of petrol and how it was two pence cheaper in one town than another.
They would ensure that their tank was near empty when passing a certain garage just to fill up and save a few quid. You’d imagine they’d make the journey just to record the price of petrol along the way.
When you are not paying the bills, one cent here or two cents there is nothing and watching what you pay at the pumps is just plain cheap.
Last week as I drove to Dublin for the All-Ireland semi-final I realised that I too was checking the prices at forecourts and thinking I could have saved a few quid here if I had not filled the tank in Mayo.
The previous day the warning light had come on the dash and the car was running on fumes. I pulled into a forecourt in Westport which I thought was reasonable and decided to fill her up to the gills ahead of the long journey.
I drive a 1.9 diesel Passat and as I filled her, the dial on the pump kept going up and up before eventually coming to a halt at €80. As I was passing the cheaper forecourts along the N4 I knew I had made a schoolboy mistake and wouldn’t be doing that again.
The survey conducted by my colleague Edwin McGreal on the price of petrol and diesel around Mayo just shows the difference in prices between different forecourts and what can be saved by shopping around.
However, that is not always possible depending on what part of the county you live and wouldn’t make sense to travel 20 miles out of your way to fill up your car.
What it does show is that for the people of Mayo the car is the only reliable method of transport available and in many rural parts of the county it is the only way of getting to work and bringing children to school.
The price of petrol and diesel is an important issue for many people and a cent or two cheaper in the price makes a real difference.
In the last number of years the price of fuel has continued to rise with every little skirmish in the middle east given as an excuse to put up the price.
Since I bought my car two years ago it has cost me on average about €20 extra to fill her up and for petrol cars I’m sure it is a lot worse.
With further tax hikes expected in the budget at the end of the year, it looks like it will be a long winter for motorists. Maybe the time has come for me to invest in one of those motrised bikes.