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Cost of driving for a new driver

A driver about to open a card door.

Passing your driving test gives you a freedom you'll never have experienced before, especially if you're lucky enough to own your own car.

But all that new found freedom also brings along responsibilities and financial costs.

So as not to take away the excitement of passing, and to help you budget, here are some of the costs to consider before buying your own car, as well as some tips on how to keep your insurance costs down.

The cost of driving

Aside from buying a car, one of the biggest costs that new drivers face is insurance. In 2015, 17-year-old drivers were paying around £1,900 for a policy, compared with £1,400 for drivers over 21. That £500 can make a lot of difference, especially when other car costs are taken into account.

While 17 year olds are paying approximately 54% less than they were five years ago, they are still usually faced with the most expensive prices.

For a new, 17 year old driver, car insurance is said to make up a third of the total bill at an average of £2,232.

But it's not just young drivers who are on the more expensive end of the insurance price spectrum. First time drivers will also see higher costs for the first year or so they're behind the wheel.

Why is it so expensive for young and first time drivers?

Well, it all comes down to risk. Inexperienced drivers are seen as a big risk for insurers; and the greater the risk, the more drivers pay for insurance.

Inexperience means new drivers are less likely to spot hazards and young drivers' youth can mean they're more likely to take risks. Statistically, within the first 12 months of passing their test, one in five new drivers are involved in a crash.

And drivers under 25 are at a much higher risk of crashing than older drivers. Despite only making up 1.5% of UK licence holders, the latest figures from the Department for Transport revealed that drivers aged 17-19 are involved in 9% of fatal and serious crashes where they are the driver.

Other costs associated with driving

Car insurance isn't the only cost associated with driving. Not only are there things you must obtain for your car to be legal on the road, but there are also the running costs to consider. So what else do you have to budget for?

Car tax

This is officially known as VED but is sometimes referred to as road tax. It's a legal requirement for all paid vehicles registered in the UK that are driven or kept on a public road. The cost of the car tax will depend on how environmentally friendly your car is, so it can be anything from £0 to £1,000.


The MOT is a yearly test for all cars over three years old. To ensure the car is safe and roadworthy, law states your car must pass the MOT. The government set a standard cost of £54.85, meaning garages can't charge more than this but many will charge less.


One of the biggest running car costs is for fuel and the price of fuel fluctuates so it's always worth keeping an eye on the prices and finding the cheapest place to fill-up in your local area. Having an efficient car will help you keep this cost down, as does accelerating more gently.

Servicing and maintenance

According to the RAC, it costs around £472 to maintain a used car over the course of a year. This cost includes paying for an MOT, servicing and any repairs that may be required. The chances of mechanical problems increase the older the car is and the more it's used. However, regular maintenance checks can help you avoid most issues.

Breakdown cover

Even with regular checks, you can't always stop mechanical issues from happening and that's where having breakdown cover comes in handy. Breakdown cover ranges widely but the higher level of cover, the higher the cost.

Tips for new drivers to keep insurance costs down

While new drivers are likely to see a dent in their finances, there are several tricks that can help lower car insurance costs:

Black box insurance

Having a telematics car insurance policy helps insurers build up a driver rating as it monitors how you drive. This will then be used as the basis for your next insurance quote when it's time for you to renew.

Car choice

Having a convertible or a car with a big engine will be more expensive to insure. So keep insurance costs lower by driving a standard car with a small engine (under 1000cc).

Reduce mileage

The more you're out on the road, the more of a risk insurers perceive you to be. Therefore, reducing your annual mileage can help you save money on your premium. While it's nice to have the freedom, take public transport when you can or get involved in a car share scheme.

Increase security

Reducing the risks of your car being stolen or vandalised will often result in insurers offering cheaper premiums. Overnight, keep your car on a driveway or in a garage instead of on the street. And if you haven't already, look at adding security devices such as immobilisers and alarms.

Best cars for new drivers

Of course, one of the main costs for new drivers is buying a car. But what are the best cars for new drivers?

  • Dacia Sandero Access
  • Hyundai i10
  • Volkswagen Up
  • Citroen C3
  • Ford Ka
  • Toyota Aygo
  • VW Fox
  • Fiat Panda
  • Citroen C1

Opting for smaller engine sizes, standard modifications and avoiding such things as dark tinted windows will not only make it cheaper to buy a car, but it will also help reduce the costs of driving a car as the insurance is likely to be cheaper too.

All information is correct at time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.


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