The cost of learning to drive

Learning to drive may be a near-universal milestone, but it doesn’t come cheap. Here we break down the cost of learning to drive, as well as money saving tips.

Provisional licence cost

£34 online, £43 by post

Before you learn to drive, you’ll need a provisional licence. Otherwise you’re not legally allowed behind the wheel.

Money saving tip

Apply online and get it for £34, rather than £43 by post and you can feel good about saving £9.

The cost of driving lessons

Approximately £1,200

Depending on where you live – and who your instructor is – you can pay as little as £15 per hour for a driving lesson, and as much as £40.

One survey found that most rates fall between £20 and £30, with the average coming in at £26.01.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the average learner takes 47 lessons and 20 hours of private practice to pass.

That makes a total of £1,222.47.

Of course, you might be a natural and not need so many lessons. But it’ll almost certainly be more than £1,000.

Money saving tip

Driving schools and instructors often give discounts if you buy lessons in bulk.

Theory test cost

£23 for the test, £14.99 for learning materials

Before the actual driving test, you need to pass your theory. The test itself will set you back £23, but you’ll need to get the three texts it’s based on: The Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and Driving, The Essential Skills.

You can read the first two for free online (or buy a hard copy for £2.50 and £4.99 respectively) but the last will set you back £14.99. There are also various apps you can download to revise for the test.

Money saving tip

See if you can get a second-hand copy of Driving, The Essential Skills, but make sure it’s up to date. Try asking a friend who recently passed.

Driving test cost

£62 on weekdays, £75 evenings and weekends

The big day itself will cost you £62 on a weekday or £75 for an evening or weekend.

Lots of people like to book an hour’s practice with their instructor beforehand. It’ll set you back a bit more on the day, but might be the difference between passing, and having to go round again.

Money saving tip

Don’t take the test until you’re absolutely ready. And book on a weekday.

Driving licence cost

Free, or £17 with a new photo

Your actual full-blown driving license comes free. Unless you desperately want to change the photo from your provisional. Then it’ll cost you £17.

Money saving tip

Stick with your provisional photo!

The cost of a car

£4,276 on average

The cost of a car varies massively. On average, Britons spend £4,276 on their first car. But many spend far more, and many far less.

If you’re on a tight budget, it is still possible to get an old banger for under £500. Just be wary of running costs. Older cars tend to emit more CO2, costing more in car tax, and are more likely to break down.

Money saving tip

Balance up-front savings against ongoing running costs. You could save in the long run with a newer vehicle – depending what you’re comparing it to.

The cost of car insurance

Approximately £1,300

As a new driver, you’re seen as more likely to have an accident, so have to pay more for insurance.

The cost of car insurance for a 17-24 year old averages at around £1,300, making it the largest cost of learning to drive, before lessons.

The biggest thing you can do to get the price down is buy a car that’s cheaper to insure. That usually means something known to be reliable, with a smaller engine, and no modifications.

Money saving tip

Consider a Black Box policy – where your driving is tracked in real-time, so you can demonstrate what a careful driver you are.

The total cost of learning to drive

£2,600 without the car, £7,000 with

Adding it all together, we get somewhere around £2,600 – not including the car. Whether that money is best spent on learning to drive is up to you.

Plenty of people don’t drive nowadays, and you could spend it on travelling, or putting towards a deposit on a house.

Then again, sometimes there’s no substitute for the freedom of the open road.