How Much Does it Cost to Learn How to Drive?
Learning to drive offers big benefits, from getting to work to road trips and doing the weekly shop. But it comes at a cost.
Driving lessons, licence applications, learning aids, insurance, and of course buying your first car - all add up. To help you understand the costs involved, this article looks at the essential outgoings on your road to becoming a fully fledged driver.
Without a provisional licence, you're not allowed to begin learning. Online applications to the DVLA costs £34 while applying by post costs £43. You must be at least 15 years and 9 months old and be able to read a number plate at a distance of 20m. In our example, we'll use the most economical option.
Total so far: £34
How much are driving lessons in the UK? Driving lesson prices depend on your location, but the average cost of driving lessons is between £25 and £30 per hour. However, in Central London this may rise to £37 per hour or more. You may be able to take advantage of introductory offers to bring this cost down, but it will still add up over time. You can get a better idea of this significant cost by searching ‘driving lessons near me prices’.
The DVSA estimates it takes 45 hours of lessons to learn to drive, plus another 22 hours of practising.
If you're ready to take your test before the 45-hour mark, your instructor should inform you, potentially saving you a significant sum.
You may be able to speed up the learning process with lessons from a friend or family member. This could help bring down the cost of driving lessons overall.
Assuming it does take 45 hours at £30 per hour, lessons would cost you £1,350.
Total so far: £1,384
You must pass the theory test before you can attempt the practical test. This can be taken as soon as you get your provisional licence, although you may wish to get some on-the-road experience under your belt beforehand.
In our example we'll assume you pass first time.
Booking a theory test costs £23.
The Official DVSA Theory Test Kit app may help you pass the first time round. This costs £4.99 (rounded to £5 below)
Total so far: £1,412
Before you get your full driving licence, you'll need to pass your practical exam. This costs £62 during the week and £75 on the weekend. The latter may be an option if you're working or studying full time during the week.
Many learners decide to take the test in their instructors' car. If you opt for this route, you'll need to add the cost of another hour lesson - including the 40 minute test and the 'show me tell me' test - (explaining and then showing how you would carry out a safety task), plus the eye test.
Taking the weekend test rate and another 30 lessons, the practical test section adds £105 to the running total.
Total so far: £1,517
Buying a car
Next, you'll need a car. You might buy this with your own savings or with help from your family. Naturally, a used car is considerably cheaper than a new one. The average cost of a first car in Britain is £3,562, according to Mawcomms. Read our guide to buying a used car to help ensure you don’t end up paying over the odds for repairs and maintenance over time.
Total so far: £5,079
Learner insurance and regular insurance
Learner insurance is designed for those who wish to gain driving experience with the help of a family member or friend. It's a flexible, short term insurance and is offered by many of the big name cover providers.
Six months of learner insurance would cost around £300, depending on things like where you live and your age.
Alternatively a family member might include you as a 'learner driver as a named driver' on their existing insurance, but this will be more costly than learner insurance.
Once you've passed your test, you'll need to get regular car insurance, which, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), for someone aged between 18 and 20, costs an average of £972 per year.
You may be able to reduce your insurance costs by taking our black box insurance - which works by having a device installed in your car that monitors your driving. If you drive safely, you’ll be rewarded with a lower premium.
And try not to overestimate how far you will drive in a given 12 months; taking out a policy covering 10,000 miles per annum will be an unnecessary cost if you only drive 4,000 miles in that time. Equally, ensure you don’t underestimate your mileage.
Total so far: £6,351
Another unavoidable cost is vehicle tax. If buying a brand new vehicle, the first 12 months' tax will be different to the second and onwards tax payments.
However, since most new drivers will be buying a used car, we've taken the second -year-and-onwards taxes as an example.
Opting for an electric car will mean this cost is avoided. Running costs should also be lower compared to petrol or diesel. However, the initial cost of a used electric vehicle may be higher than say, a comparable used petrol-fuelled car.
The table below shows the costs involved, which are based on the vehicles' fuel type.
It will cost you slightly less if you pay for the year in one go.
Note that newly-registered vehicles with a list price exceeding £40,000 attract an additional £335 a year - although this won't be relevant to the vast majority of new drivers.
In our example, we'll use the single 12-month payment of £145.
Vehicle tax for second year onwards
|Single 12-month payment
|Single 12-month payment by Direct Debit
|Total of 12 monthly payments by Direct Debit
|Single 6-month payment
|Single 6-month payment by Direct Debit
|Petrol or diesel
Total estimated cost: £6,496
Quick tips for cutting the cost of learning to drive:
● Compare quotes from several driving instructors - and choose the cheapest one (while ensuring they are reputable)
● Book lessons in bulk - discount are often available
● Book two hour lessons - these are usually a little cheaper
● Get extra lessons from a friend or family member
● Opt for black box insurance - safer drivers are offered lower premiums
● Increase your voluntary excess - this will reduce your premium
● Add an alarm or immobiliser - this should bring down the cost of cover