How much does it cost to learn to drive?
Turning 17 and learning to drive is a massive milestone but there’s a fair bit to do before you can ditch the L-plates and get behind the wheel on your own. Here’s a look at everything you need to do and how much you might need to spend when it comes to taking (and passing) your driving test.
How much does the provisional driving licence cost?
Before you even start thinking about booking lessons, you’ll need to organise your provisional licence. It currently costs £34 if you apply online or £43 by post.
You can apply for your provisional licence when you’re 15 years and 9 months, but you can only start lessons when you’re 17.
Applying online is by far the quickest way and means your provisional licence should arrive within a week. To apply, you’ll need:
- A form of ID (for example, a passport)
- Address details from the last three years
- Your National Insurance number if you know it
When you pass your driving test, your provisional licence will be updated to a full UK driving licence for free. Although, if you want to update your photo, it’ll cost you £17 to do so.
How much are driving lessons in the UK?
Driving schools set their own prices and you can expect to pay anything from £20 to £30 but in the UK, the average cost is £24 per lesson. You’ll usually be offered a discounted rate if you block book lessons.
According to the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency), the average learner will need 47 lessons and 22 hours of practice to pass their test.
Lessons from a professional driving instructor is advisable but it can get expensive. If you’re able to learn with a family member or friend, this is going to be far cheaper.
If you do choose to learn with someone you know, they must be at least 21 years old, hold a full driving licence and have held that licence for at least three years. Don’t forget that you must be insured to drive the car you’re learning in. You’ll also need learner plates displayed at the front and back of the vehicle.
How much is the driving theory test?
If you pass, you’ll get a certificate with a unique pass number, you’ll need this to book your practical driving test. The theory test is valid for two years so you should aim to pass your practical driving test within this time. If you don’t, you’ll have to re-do and pass the theory test.
If you don’t pass the theory test, you can rebook another one after three working days.
How much does the practical driving test cost?
Currently, a driving test costs £62 if you take the test on a weekday and £75 if you take it during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
The test itself lasts around 40 minutes. To pass, you must have no more than 15 driving faults (minors) and you must have no serious or dangerous faults (majors).
If you pass your driving test you can start driving a car on your own immediately — you don’t have to wait for your full driving licence. If you don’t get it within three weeks, you should contact the DVLA (Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency).
If you don’t pass your test, you’ll have to rebook and pay for another one. Bear in mind, you’ll only be able to choose a new date that is (at least) 10 working days in the future.
Total cost of learning to drive
It could cost you a minimum of £1,247 to learn to drive and pass your test, based on:
- Provisional licence cost £34
- Cost of driving lessons £1,128 (average lesson price £24 x average number needed to pass 47)
- Theory test cost £23
- Driving test cost £62
- Grand total £1,1247
Of course, this assumes that you’ll pass the theory and practical test first time and that you’ll only need an average amount of lessons. It also doesn’t take into account when you take your driving test as this could cost more if you can’t take it on a weekday.
With that in mind, you can try and save some money when it comes to buying and insuring a car, so here’s what to consider.
Choose your first car carefully
Cars with smaller engines generally cost less to insure. For a great runaround that won’t cost the earth to insure, take a look at our guide to the best cars for new drivers.
Budget for running costs
Budgeting in advance can help you plan what you need to set aside so you don’t pay more than you need.
For example, if you can, try to pay for your car cover in one go. Installments will mean you pay extra in interest fees. Similarly, paying vehicle tax is cheaper if you pay annually. Paying monthly or every six months will mean you pay an extra 5%.
You’ll also need to factor in an MOT if your car is over 3 years old, which currently costs £54.85. Needless to say, fuel is also another ongoing expense that you’ll need to consider in your budget.
Compare car insurance
Insurance will be one of the biggest costs you’ll face, especially as a young driver. Recent data from Consumer Intelligence shows that car insurance for under 25s now stands at an eye-watering £1,912.
To avoid paying over the odds, always compare a range of quotes — for instance, at mustard.co.uk, you can search for quotes from more than 70 insurers.
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