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Running a car as a young driver

Kwik Fit | Monday 16th February 2015 10:00am

Learner plates on car

After housing costs, a car is probably one of the most expensive things that youíll pay for as a young adult. The nice people at The Money Advice Service have put together a list of the key costs involved in running a car and provide some useful tips on how to try to keep them down:

What you must have by law

There are a few things you must have by law before you begin to drive your car on the road:

  • Insurance - Driving uninsured is against the law. For more information view the Money Advice Service's guide to car insurance for young drivers
  • Car tax (commonly known as road tax) - the amount of car tax you pay depends on either your engine size (older cars) or the emissions of your car (newer cars). The lower the engine size or emissions, the lower the car tax. car tax can be paid for either six or 12 months. Although the yearly option costs more upfront, itís cheaper than buying two six-month options. As of October 2014 you are no longer required to display a tax disc in your car windscreen but your car must still be taxed. Find out how much tax you might need to pay using the GOV.UK car tax calculator
  • MOT - this stands for Ministry of Transport, and is a yearly test for all cars over three years old to make sure the car is safe and roadworthy. The standard cost set by the government is £54.85 for a car. This means that garages canít charge more than this to carry out the test, but you may find that some garages offer MOTs for less.

Other big car costs

Petrol or diesel

Top tips on reducing your fuel costs include:

  • Consumption - consider the fuel consumption of any car youíre looking to buy. The bigger the engine, the more fuel it will use in general
  • Careful driving - being a little more gentle in accelerating and not driving quite as fast can reduce the amount of fuel you use significantly
  • Heavy items - donít leave heavy things in the car if you donít need them to be there, and take off roof racks if youíre not using them. The heavier the car, the more fuel it will use
  • Shopping - supermarkets often have very competitive fuel prices, and you can sometimes build up reward points to spend on other shopping.

Servicing and maintenance

Motor company the RAC says that it costs around £472 to maintain a used car over the course of a year. This includes getting the MOT, and any servicing and repairs required. For a monthly fee, a used car warranty will cover certain repairs on your car, and may even include a service and MOT once a year. If you decide to take out a warranty, make sure youíre clear on what it covers and what it doesnít.

Breakdown cover

The chances are that most drivers have experienced at least one breakdown. Breakdown cover ranges from simply having an engineer take a look at your car at the roadside, to having the car picked up anywhere in Europe with a courtesy car to continue you on your journey. Naturally, the higher the level of cover, the more it costs. Make sure you check whatís included in each level of cover and choose the one that best meets your needs.


One of the biggest costs when owning a car is the loss of value of the car over time - this is called depreciation. Brand new cars lose their value faster than used cars as they are more expensive to begin with. When you buy a car, think about what it might be worth in a few yearsí time Ė you might be able to see the price of older cars the same make as yours on a car sales website.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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