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  • Writer's pictureDean Wyatt

"How much does driving cost?”

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

By Dean Wyatt (ADI)

February 2019


In this next blog I’ll be running through all the costs involved with driving. Starting with the very first thing– obtaining your provisional driving licence- right the way through to passing your test and running your own car day to day.


Licensing costs

Before you can start to learn to drive, you need to apply for your provisional driving licence. This costs £34 if you apply online or £43 if you apply by post. Application is done via the gov.uk website. When you pass your driving test, it is free to convert your provisional licence to a full licence.


Average cost of driving lessons

Different companies charge different amounts, but as a very rough guide, you should expect to pay around £30-£40 per hour. Shop around, but bear in mind; it’s not all about price. Choose a Driving School/Instructor that feels right for you or has been recommended to you. Using a ‘cheap’ Driving School/Instructor may seem like good value, but it may end up costing you more than using a more expensive one for less lessons.


Average number of driving lessons

How long is a piece of string?! It’s a cliché, but everybody does learn differently, so it is hard to say how many lessons you’ll need. The national average though, is 45 hours of professional driving lessons, plus having private practice. This is a vast average amongst lots of people, so bear in mind some need a lot less than that, some a lot more.


Value for money driving lessons

Once you’ve chosen your Driving School/Instructor, it’s up to you to prepare correctly for your lessons to make sure you get as much value for money out of each hour as you can.


For example:-

· Get enough sleep the night before and make sure you’re correctly fed and watered beforehand. Tiredness, hunger and/or dehydration can have huge effects on your concentration during driving and impact your learning.

· Go back over what you covered on your last lesson. Make notes if it helps, and have any questions ready that you want your Driving Instructor to go back over.

· Think about what you want to cover in your next lesson. A good Driving Instructor should allow you to have input in your own goal setting for each lesson.


By doing the above, you have the best chance of making progress in your driving. Turning up to each lesson not remembering what you covered last lesson, or not having a clue about what you want to try and achieve this lesson, will only delay your learning.


Tests costs – theory/practical

To obtain a full driving licence, first of all you need to pass a theory test. This costs £23 to book, and can be booked on the same website as applying for a provisional driving licence (gov.uk). Once you have passed your theory test, you’re eligible to book a practical test. This costs £62, also from the gov.uk website. If you’re unsuccessful in passing either of these tests, it costs the same again to book another one. Therefore, it’s important to only book them when you’re ready.


Your first car

Again, how long is a piece of string?! Cars range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of pounds. Bear in mind, the newer and higher the spec of the car, the more expensive it will be to buy. Most people tend to go for something similar to what they learnt in for their first car. A small hatchback like a Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta, are popular choices, but ultimately it all boils down to your own personal budget. Another thing to think about is the cost of the sections I’m going to detail below – these will all depend on what type of car you decide to buy, so think it through and compare what all the additional costs will be.


Insurance costs

It is illegal to drive a vehicle that isn’t insured, so it is imperative that you have insurance in place before you drive. There are thousands of companies that offer car insurance, so it’s usually easier to compare policies and prices via a comparison site like comparethemarket.com / moneysupermarket.com / gocompare.com etc. Direct Line and Aviva are not on comparison sites though, so it’s worth checking their policy and prices directly too. Statistics show that in the first 2 years from passing your driving test, you are more vulnerable to have an accident, so be warned, your policy will be expensive during this period, but if you can get through this time safely, your premium cost will start to come down during future years as you become a more experienced and safer driver. The cost of your insurance premium will be vastly different depending on the type of vehicle you are insuring, along with many other factors such as your age, address, occupation etc, so you definitely need to shop around. Read the policy detail carefully and take note of the ‘excess amount’ which is the amount you would have to pay in the event of claiming on the policy (the higher the excess, the cheaper the policy generally). Some insurance companies offer you a ‘black box’ which is something that goes into your vehicle to track certain data e.g. speed, which should encourage you to drive safely, which in turn reduces your premium.


Road tax costs

You have to have road tax for any vehicle that you own. For cars registered before 1st March 2001, the rate of vehicle road tax depends on its engine size. For cars registered on or after 1st March 2001, it depends on their CO2 emissions and fuel type. The lesser the CO2 emissions– so the less harmful on the environment the vehicle is- the cheaper the road tax. This can range from £0 to nearly £600 per year. You must still tax your vehicle even if you do not have to pay anything, for example if you’re exempt because you’re disabled. The gov.uk website is the place to go to obtain road tax.


Other car costs

A few other costs you should bear in mind are:-


Fuel– you will need to buy diesel or unleaded petrol to power your vehicle. The more you drive, the more you’ll need, and again, the cost of fuel changes day by day and it also depends where you buy your fuel.


MOT– If your vehicle is 3 years old (or older) it will need to be tested each year to ensure that it meets road safety and environmental standards. This costs about £55 and needs to be carried out by a qualified technician.


Servicing– It makes sense to have your vehicle annually checked (but is not compulsory)by a qualified technician. This will keep your vehicle safe, and make it more likely to pass its MOT. A basic service for an average car will probably cost £100-£200.


Breakdown cover– Like servicing, this isn’t compulsory, but makes sense to have in case of breakdown. You can get a policy for around £30 per year, but the more benefits you’d like (like breakdown cover at home, as well as whilst you’re out), the more it will cost.


Parking– car parks or street parking usually entails you having to pay a few pence/pounds (depending on how long you park for), so make sure you buy a ticket for this at the place of parking, otherwise you will be fined.


How you can keep costs down

Finally, you can help keep all of the above costs down by driving safely. The faster and/or more dangerous that you drive, costs as well as risks will go up. Using less acceleration and less harsh braking will reduce your fuel consumption, as well as the risk of having an accident, which ultimately pushes your insurance costs up if you have to make a claim. Likewise, wear and tear on your vehicle will go up, so in turn, your servicing costs will rise – as well as the risk of your vehicle failing its MOT. Your driving style and attitude will have a knock on effect to all of the above, so stay safe.


I hope you found the above useful. As you’ve read, lots of the costs can change drastically depending on different factors, so all figures quoted above are just a guide. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be building up these blog topics, so feel free to get in touch with any other questions that you would like some help with.


Thanks for reading.


February 19th 2019 | Dean Wyatt


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