Cars for younger drivers

As a younger driver, you might not have much experience in choosing cars. If you’re wondering how you can get the best vehicle for you, read on for some helpful tips.

As a younger driver, you might not have much experience in choosing cars. If you’re wondering how you can get the best vehicle for you, read on for some helpful tips.

Daniel Hutson
Motor insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 23 OCTOBER 2019 Last Updated 21 DECEMBER 2021

Think about what you can afford to pay in running and maintenance costs 

Even if you have enough money to buy a car, you’ll need to pay to keep it on the road. Costs to consider include car insurance and road tax (also known as Vehicle Excise Duty, or VED), as well as MOT and servicing costs. You’ll also need an emergency fund for unexpected repairs. 

Depending on where you live, you may also have to pay for a parking permit. And if you drive into central London, you’ll have to pay a daily congestion charge, which costs £15, seven days a week. 

Once you know how much you can afford to spend, you can start looking for a car that works for your budget.

Consider fuel costs 

Fuel costs are an important factor when choosing a car. Confusingly, although petrol and diesel are sold in litres, fuel economy is measured in miles per gallon (mpg). This tells you how far you can drive with a gallon of fuel in your tank. 

While diesel may be economical over longer distances, there are restrictions on older diesel vehicles in parts of London. Buy a diesel car and you may find yourself landed with a £12.50 daily ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) charge, as well as higher parking fees. 

While an electric car may cost you more, depending on how you use it, the savings on fuel, parking and tax could make it cheaper in the long run.  

To compare the fuel economy of different cars, try the government’s fuel data tool.

Choose the right-sized car 

If you’re only using the car yourself for short distances, you don’t need a big, powerful car – and you might not feel confident about handling one. A family-sized car, or one with a larger engine, could also cost you more to buy and run. Consider a smaller car that can keep your costs low.

Choose a car from a cheaper insurance group 

In the UK, car insurance groups are listed from 1 (the lowest group) to 50 (the highest). The higher the group number, the more the car will cost to insure. For a younger driver, buying a car in a lower group will make your insurance more affordable. 

Think insurance before you buy your car

You have to be insured before you can even drive your new car from the dealership or private seller. And you’ll have to pay for a new policy every year, so be sure to choose one you can afford. Compare insurance providers to find a deal that suits your needs and budget.

Consider telematics insurance for lower premiums 

Telematics insurance, also called black box insurance, can lower your insurance premium. Insurance providers use an app, or a black box in your car, to track your driving. 

The black box or app uses GPS and in-car diagnostics to record your speed and location, together with how you brake and accelerate. This gives your insurance provider an indication of how you drive. If you drive safely, you’re considered less of a risk. That means your insurance premium may go down.

Think carefully about where you buy your car 

Buying from a private trader, or at auction, could be risky for a first-time driver, so be careful. You might not get a car that’s roadworthy, and you aren’t guaranteed a warranty, either. Be wary of buying a very cheap car, as it might end up costing a fortune in repairs. 

Buying from a dealer may be a better option – that way you’re likely to get a warranty and a car that’s been inspected thoroughly.

Look for safety features 

As a younger driver, you’re statistically more likely to have an accident. So, while a car equipped with the latest safety features might cost you more, it may be worth it. Features to consider include: 

  • adaptive cruise control (ACC)
    If the car in front slows down, you will too. This helps you maintain a constant distance from other traffic.
  • auto emergency braking (AEB) 
    If your car senses you’re about to crash, it will automatically apply the brakes. 
  • lane assist 
    If you tend to drift out of lane on the motorway, you’ll find this a real boon.
  • blind-spot detection
    The most common cause of car accidents among young people is failing to look properly. So, a blind-spot monitoring system can help you stay safe on the road. 

All these safety features will help you drive in bad weather and react to emergencies. 

Cars with good safety ratings can also be cheaper to insure. And they’ll help give you – and your parents – peace of mind when you’re on the road.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the most affordable car for younger drivers?

The Kia Picanto is a good car for younger drivers, costing around £10,600 for a basic model and sitting in insurance group 5. The Volkswagen Up! is slightly more expensive at £13,955, but comes very highly rated.

What’s the cheapest car to insure for young drivers?

How much you pay for your car insurance will depend on a number of factors, not least where you live. But the Ford Fiesta, Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo and Fiat 500 are all relatively affordable cars to insure.

What should I consider when looking for a car for younger drivers?

If you’re buying a car for a young or teenage driver, look for something that’s safe, easy to drive and easy to park.

What should I avoid when buying a car for younger drivers?

Avoid cars with large engines, and stay away from modifications like wheel rims or spoilers. These are all likely to increase the cost of your insurance.

How can young drivers bring down the cost of their insurance?

If you’re a young or teenage driver, there are a few ways you can lower the cost of your car insurance. One is to add a parent or older named driver to your policy. Another is to make sure your car has security features, like an alarm or immobiliser. And be sure to shop around to find the right policy for you.

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