What’s given with one hand is taken with the other when it comes to reserving one’s shekels for the purposes of maintaining your motor.

That was the latest and in no way surprising conclusion to be drawn from the AA’s annual motoring cost survey.

It revealed that the cost of running a family car has risen by 4.5 per cent in the past year; a figure one suggests we could well be pining for come the next annual report.

The survey suggests that during 2007 a car with a 1500 cc engine cost €12,236 to run – up €526 on the previous year’s tally.

“If it wasn’t for fuel costs we’d be reporting good news,” said the AA’s Conor Faughnan, due to the fact that car insurance costs have come down for the fifth consecutive year.

In the past 12 months alone, average car insurance costs dropped by eight per cent.

Interest rates may have risen by 0.5 per cent over the past year, but the cost of new cars didn’t increase in an overall context while rises like servicing and parking are in line with inflation.

“But,” the AA points out, “of course every motorist is feeling the pinch at the pumps” as petrol prices continue to rise, thus wiping out the insurance gains, leaving us punters paying more overall.

The AA’s mathematics indicate that a car that achieves 30 miles per gallon (9.5 litres per 100kms) and that completing 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) per year requires 1500 litres of fuel.

Last year that cost came to €1,759. This year the cost has risen by over 11 per cent to €1,957.

It’s important to note that AA figures are currently based on petrol usage, rather than diesel – a fuel whose price has risen spectacularly in recent months.

Diesel cars currently account for just under a fifth (18 per cent) of private cars currently, but this is a figure certain to rise under the new tax system which came into operation on July 1st.

Astonishingly, diesel has risen by over 30 per cent in price in the past year, which means that the average annual cost has gone from €1,627 to €2,143.

“Diesel users are now paying on average €43 more per month for fuel compared to this time last year,” according to the AA. “It has been horrendous.”

Worryingly, the AA statement suggests that the price of car insurance could well be on the way back up sooner rather than later. “Five years ago insurance prices were the big concern for motorists,” reads the July 6th text.

“Initiatives like the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board have worked extremely well and prices have tumbled.

“But there are indications that we have reached the bottom of that cycle, and prices may soon start to trend upwards again.”