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Cut the £5,000 cost of learning to drive

Parents of new motorists face bills of almost £5,000 before their child is even qualified to drive, a new report suggests.

L plate on the bonnet of a red car

Research from Asda Money, the retailer’s banking arm, has highlighted the huge costs faced by learners in their first few months on the road.

Main expenses

Tuition, insurance and the car itself are the most significant expenses.

But the good news is there are numerous ways to save, from pay-as-you-drive telematics insurance policies, to making sure you choose a vehicle that is cheap not only to buy but also to run.

Asda says that more than half of parents pay between £750 and £1,500 for their son or daughter’s driving lessons.

Added to this is the typical cost of a first car, which Asda estimates at around £1,200.

Insurance burden

But by far the most significant outlay is on insurance: an average annual motor policy for someone aged between 17 and 20 comes in at just under £2,000, according to the company.

Extra expenses such as an annual MOT on vehicles which are at least three years old, plus any extra servicing costs, have to be factored in as well.

So how can new drivers cut the costs?

Getting the right car

Buying a new vehicle for a first-time driver isn’t just about its price tag.

Of course you’re unlikely to want to shell out tens of thousands of pounds for a brand-new motor, but it is important to take into account running costs – in terms of potential servicing bills and insurance, for example – as well.

Paying a couple of hundred pounds for an old banger might seem like a bargain, but not if it breaks down within a couple of weeks.

Be sure to check the vehicle’s service history – any serious seller should have an up-to-date record.

And find out how much insurance is going to cost on this particular model before you buy rather than after you’ve agreed a deal.

You can use the car’s registration details to get quotes from a price-comparison service in advance, thus avoiding any nasty surprises.

And make sure the car has not been modified: the likes of spoilers or souped-up engines can send premiums soaring.

Keep a lid on the cost of cover

Young drivers face the highest insurance premiums, as insurers think their lack of experience and recklessness make them more likely to claim.

But there are ways to limit the price of your policy.

Buying a boring, safe car is a good idea for a start.

And consider adding a parent to the cover as a named driver, even if they won’t be using your motor very often. This often reassures insurance providers and leads to cheaper premiums.

Finally, think about signing up to a telematics policy: this involves installing in your car a black-box recorder, which assesses various aspects of your driving such as speed, braking and cornering.

If this shows you to be a sensible driver, you are rewarded with lower premiums.

Pay less for lessons

Shopping around for cheaper rates is a good idea, but it is also important to find an instructor you like, and who makes you feel comfortable behind the wheel.

After all, the quicker you learn, the less you’ll spend on tuition.

Karen Parker, an AA Driving School instructor, adds: "You can save yourself a fortune if you do some work before you start having lessons: so learn about the rules of the road, and read the Highway Code.

"In lessons, we start by talking about the theory side, so if you’ve already covered that then it will cost you a lot less. And those that do prepare like this tend to learn a lot better."

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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