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How much does running a car actually cost?

If you’ve just passed your driving test, freedom is at your fingertips. But can your pocket actually afford to run a car? Running a car can be an expensive business, all for reasons you might have never even thought about. Everyone knows that young driver car insurance can be expensive, so no doubt you’re ready for that. Telematics insurance might be able to save you some money - But there are a few other things that you need to bear in mind. We’ve created this guide to help you find out the costs behind running a car.

MOT and road tax

When you buy a car, not only will you need car insurance to get on the road, you’ll need road tax and a valid MOT certificate too.

The cost of road tax can vary depending on your car, with some lower-emissions cars can be as low as £20 for the year, so make sure to check the cost of road tax before you buy a car. Road tax has recently increased for diesel cars, which can make getting on the road expensive if you decide that a diesel car is the best option for you.

Also, getting your car through its MOT can be pricey if it fails for any reason. After your car has failed, you will need to get any issues fixed before putting your car in for a retest. MOTs can cost up to £54.85 a time - so make sure that you can afford this before buying a car, especially if it’s got only a few months left on its MOT certificate.


Fuel prices have also been solidly rising over the past few years. Petrol prices have increased by 3.3p, and diesel by 3.4p. Diesel is more expensive, but diesel cars are also more economical on longer journeys. So if you only plan on doing short trips regularly, buying a petrol car could be the best option to save you money. Also, fuel prices differ everywhere you go, so shop around in your local area!


Tyre treads have to legally be above the safe level, so you should check them regularly and replace them when they become dangerously worn. But if you keep on top of them, and replace them as and when they need to be replaced, this will prevent a big blow to your pocket if they all become unsafe at once.

Congestion charges

If you live or work in London, you will also have the pay the congestion charge, and if your car doesn’t meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, you’ll have to pay an additional emissions surcharge too! So if you frequently travel into London, a car might not be the best option for you! You also have to pay a toll charge if you pass through the Dartford Crossing in Kent, so bear that in mind if you travel that way frequently.

Servicing and breakdown cover

Don’t forget that you will also have to pay for your car to be serviced if you don’t want it to lose its value or wear more than necessary. If your car breaks down, and you don’t have breakdown cover in place, you will have to pay an emergency call out fee. You may also be required to pay a set charge per mile your car is towed! So invest in breakdown cover, or make sure you have some money put aside just in case.

Getting your first car is exciting, but make sure that as you’re filling the piggy bank with money to buy a car, that you’re also putting aside some pennies to cover the cost of anything that could go wrong, to keep you on the road.

Posted on October 23, 2018
Category Car Ownership