How young drivers can cut motoring costs

Not every young driver can afford a new car... But whatever they choose, the smaller and safer the better (Picture © Peugeot)

Not every young driver can afford a new car… But whatever they choose, the smaller and safer the better (Picture © Peugeot)

Being a young driver is a tricky business. Not only do they have the astronomical cost of fuel to contend with but they also get stung on the price of car insurance. And then of course there’s the purchase price of the car to consider as well. But there are some steps youngsters can take to cut the cost of driving.

It’s always the individual
The way insurance works is by assessing an individual’s risk. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), younger drivers are far more likely to face a large personal injury claim (more than £500,000) than older drivers. Insurers also believe that youngsters will be tempted to carry a car full of their peers than older drivers, meaning that any mistake could have a negative impact on more lives.

Consider the car
Broadly speaking, the smaller and less powerful the car, the cheaper it will be to insure. That means considering superminis and city cars. And making sure the engine capacity is 1.4-litre or lower. Think about carbon dioxide emissions too. A car that emits less CO2 will cost less to tax. For example, lower than 120g/km and it’s £30 a year. But if it’s between 131 and 140g/km, it’s £130. As insurers consider younger drivers to be a higher risk because they can frequently have a car-full, limit the number of people they can carry by buying a city car which has four, rather than five seats.

Shop around for cover
There are many ways for any driver to cut the cost of their insurance. But one is applicable for any age and that is shopping around. The more effort you put into finding cheap insurance, the more you’re likely to be rewarded. It’s a competitive business and you need to get as many quotes as possible to find the cheapest.

Consider telematics
The ABI says young drivers should consider telematics policies first and foremost. This is where a tracking unit is placed in the car to monitor driving standards and style. “By using telematics, insurers can tailor their product to that particular driver so you’re not paying for other people’s mistakes,” says the ABI’s Malcolm Tarling. For example, Direct Line are currently offering drivers under 21 a 25 per cent discount if they fit their DrivePlus box.

How economical is it?
The cost of fuel is vying with the price of insurance for the most expensive part of the motoring jigsaw. Fuel prices are constantly rising so how much a young person’s car uses can make a massive difference. Assuming you run a petrol car that manages 40mpg in the real world, you should spend around £1759 on fuel over 12,000 miles. If the car only does 30mpg, the cost of fuel will be £2345, or £585 more.

How reliable is it?
Although insurance and fuel usually make up the lion’s share of a young person’s motoring costs, if a car is unreliable, maintenance bills can quickly mount up. Check out to see which cars are the most dependable. In small car terms the Honda Jazz scores highly, as does the Toyota Yaris. The survey also lists the average cost of repairing cars when faults do occur so you can see which are the more expensive to fix.

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