Hidden costs of running a car

This time of the year is a bit tough for me finance wise because all of my big annual car expenses seem to come all at once making September a bit tricky! I love my car and always shell out for anything it needs to keep it road worthy but it’s amazing how costs can suddenly build up when you are a car owner.

Over their lifetime the average British motorists will clock up a staggering 556,764 miles and spend £168,880! It can get a bit overwhelming so it’s best to be aware of the hidden costs of running a car so you can make sure you have your finances in order. Here are 5 costs of running a car you will need to factor in:

Car Insurance

I just got my car insurance renewal notice today and I was surprised (and delighted) that it has come down quite a bit from last year (huzzah!) When I first started driving at the age of 17 my insurance was sky high but this year it’s certainly looking more manageable. Car insurance is the biggest expenditure when it comes to running costs and the price depends on what sort of coverage you want as well as your driving history.

According to a poll of almost 2,000 motorists, British drivers are likely to spend £436 per year on their annual car insurance in the UK!  Third party insurance is the minimum which only provides cover of other people in the event of an accident or incident, not you.  Fully comprehensive is the highest level of cover and covers damage to your vehicle and sometimes has other benefits. It’s worth shopping around to get the best deal.


At this time of year not only is my car insurance due but also my MOT (Ministry of Transport test car inspection). An MOT includes checks to make sure a car is roadworthy and safe, such as looking at the brakes and fuel system, lights, mirrors, windscreen wipers and the exhaust system.

All cars over 3 years old must by law pass a yearly MOT test to show they are roadworthy. The cost for an MOT varies depending on where you get in done but there is a maximum amount test stations can charge, the maximum fee for a car is £54.85. Surprisingly 2 out of 5 tests fail the first time around (usually due to minor faults) so it might be a good idea to get your car serviced first. Speaking of which…

Car Service

Yes, you probably guessed it, I get my car serviced every year. I book it in with my local garage who service it and get the MOT done in one hit. It’s usually easy to find company like KAP Motors who provide car servicing for a wide variety of makes and models such as Peugeot, Nissan and Suzuki.

Keeping your car serviced regularly means you’re ahead of the curve with any minor problems being fixed before they get the chance to become a major problem (and a more expensive one). A service shows if a car is in good condition for another year on the road, and will let you know if it is keeping its value and running to its top standard.

Car Tax

My final financial hit at this time of year is my car tax. The letter popped through my door a day or two before my car insurance renewal arrived. Car tax is due on all vehicles registered in the UK with the rate being determined by a number of factors including the type of car you own. The cost of car tax all depends on the age of your vehicle, the engine size and emissions. Choosing the right car can make a big difference to your tax costs! This year my car tax bill comes to £140.00 for the year.

If you own a brand new car that produce 0 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (like hybrids or electric cars) and have a price of less than £40,000 you may be exempt from paying car tax, like people who own a car registered between 1 March 2001 and before 1 April 2017 that produces up to 100 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven. You can learn more about car tax here.

A lifetime of driving costs summary:

  • £168.46 a year £10,865 over a lifetime
  • Petrol £89.67 a month £69,404 over a lifetime
  • Servicing £441 a year £28,444 over a lifetime
  • Parking £12.15 a month £9,404 over a lifetime
  • Insurance £436 a year £28,122 over a lifetime
  • Tax and Tolls £116.35 a year £7,504 over a lifetime
  • Car supplies £29.61 a year £1909 over a lifetime
  • Holiday rental car £180 a year £11,610 over a lifetime
  • Parking/speeding tickets £25.12 a year £1,620 over a lifetime

TOTAL £168,880!

Did you realise over your lifetime you could be paying that much for running your vehicals?

5 overlooked car expenses that break the bank


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