This is how much parents spend keeping their children on the road

From buying a car to paying for petrol, parents are spending more than you might expect keeping their children on the road. Costs such as insurance, petrol, tax, repairs and even a car itself, are often coming out of parent’s pockets.

We asked parents of young drivers how much they spend on their children’s cars, and how much they’ll continue to spend long after they’ve passed their test - and the results might surprise you.

A third of parents help their children to buy a car

More than a third (37%) of parents claimed they have helped their child with the purchase of a car, and parents say they’ve spent an average of £2,273 helping to do this.

There are some parents who will really splash the cash to get their child the car they want, with 5% saying they’d happily spend more than £5,000 on their child’s car!

And the financial help that parents offer their children to start driving is certainly welcomed by young drivers. 39% of children said they felt comfortable using their parent’s money towards their car costs, so it comes as no surprise that 41% of parents believed their children couldn’t run a car without their financial support.

What do parents help contribute to most?

When asked what parents help financially contribute to most in regard to their children’s car, they said the following:

  1. The purchase of a car (37%)
  2. Insurance (36%)
  3. Petrol (31%)
  4. Repairs (23%)
  5. Vehicle tax (22%)

Aside from the big purchase of a car, insurance is the biggest cost for parents.

We all know that getting insurance for a new driver can be tricky – and as the average annual cost to add a child on to a parent’s insurance policy is £415, it's not surprising that 36% say they spend the most on their children’s insurance, with a further three in five (61%) parents saying that insurance is the biggest cost challenge when it comes to running a car for their children.

How much does the Tank of Mum and Dad cost, and how long does it last?

The majority of UK parents (54%) pay towards the insurance, petrol, repairs and tax of their children’s car for the first year or two after their child starts driving.

So how much is insurance, petrol, repairs and tax costing parents?

For parents of one child, 54% spend £1,750.14 on average in the first 1-2 years, 25% spend £4,083.66 on average paying for 3-4 years and 11% spend £6.417.18 on average contributing for 5-6 years.

Have two children and these costs double to £3,500.28 for the first 1-2 years, £8,167.32 for 3-4 years and a huge £12,834.36 for 5-6 years.

And it’s even more costly for parents of three children, who can expect to pay an average of £5,250.42 in the first 2 years, £12,250.98 in 3-4 years and a staggering £19,251.54 on average 5-6 years after their children begin driving.

And this isn’t including an additional £2,273 average spend on the car itself!

Children undervalue their initial insurance by up to £350

Most children told us that their parents had never contributed towards their car costs (37%) – but just 14% of parents said the same, showing quite a disconnect between the generations.

Our survey shows that the majority of young drivers consistently undervalue how much their parents spend and how much things cost. This is especially clear when it comes to insurance, where the majority of parents (34%) said they’d spent £451 or more in the last year – but most children (12%) thought their parents had only spent between £50-£100. That’s a £350 difference!

What’s more, most young drivers (20%) thought that their parents spent under £50 on vehicle tax – while roughly the same number of parents (21%) say they’ve spent between £101-150.

It’s the same story for petrol and repairs too. So as your children start becoming independent, it might be worth discussing the true costs of running a car with them before they get a nasty surprise later on!

Brought to you by the car insurance experts at


Survey of 2000 parents of children aged 17-24 whose child has a full or provisional driving license, and 2,000 17-24-year olds who have a full or provisional driving license, conducted in September 2020 by TLF.