A guide to basic car running costs


Getting around by car is by far the most convenient method, which is easy to see as there are over 32 million licensed cars on the UK roads. They do, however, come with a whole host of costs.

Experienced drivers may be fully aware of these, but it’s not always clear for newer drivers. Therefore, we’ve put together this guide to inform you of the true cost of owning a car.


Insurance is a legal requirement when driving a car. It’s what covers any damage caused by you or another driver. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you may receive an unlimited fine or have your licence revoked.

Car insurance prices vary depending on a number of factors, including how many years without a claim you have. Known as a no-claims bonus, you’ll enjoy cheaper car insurance if you’ve never been in an accident that requires repairs. Drivers around the age of 20 pay approximately £850 on average. This number will then decrease with age – if you don’t crash – before rising again when you turn 75.

Finding the right insurance for you is easy when you use price comparison sites.

Road tax

To use the UK roads, you must pay road tax. When a new car is registered, the price of this varies depending on how it is powered and the amount of pollution it emits. All subsequent payments are made at a flat rate of £155, though cars powered by alternative fuels to petrol and diesel receive a £10 discount. There is no road tax for electric vehicles.


If your car is three years or older, it will need to pass an MOT test to be deemed safe for the roads. An MOT will cost the driver up to £54.85. This is done by a garage or car dealership and includes checks on:

  • Brakes
  • Bodywork, doors and openings
  • Exhaust and emissions
  • Lights
  • Vehicle identification
  • Steering, wheels and tyres
  • Windows and mirrors


On top of these fees, you’ll still need to pay to run your car. Whether it’s petrol or diesel, you’ll likely be splashing out more than 142p per litre. This cost has crept up in recent months due to ongoing struggles caused by the pandemic. To reduce the amount spent on the daily running of your car, hybrid or electric options may be the way to go.


When the temperatures drop, the roads can be more dangerous. Accidents are therefore more likely to happen, which may leave your car in need of repairs.

If your car requires urgent work but you can’t afford the cost upfront, using a direct lender could help you borrow what you need. However, you must be certain that you can afford the repayments if you do apply for credit from a direct lender.

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