9 car tips for young drivers

Having a car is a ticket to freedom, so you’ll want to take good care of it while you make the most of the open road. Here are our top tips to help keep you safe and, hopefully, reduce some of the strain on your wallet.

Having a car is a ticket to freedom, so you’ll want to take good care of it while you make the most of the open road. Here are our top tips to help keep you safe and, hopefully, reduce some of the strain on your wallet.

Daniel Hutson
Head of Motor Insurance
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Posted 13 JANUARY 2020

#1 Think strategically when buying a car

Buying a car is a big purchase. It's not just buying the car itself, it's buying car tax, fuel and getting your car insurance… the combination adds up to a serious amount of cash.  

To make this less financially painful, it makes sense to find a car that’s fuel efficient and cheap to insure, cheap to maintain and cheap to run.  

Just make sure whatever you buy is safe. To find car safety ratings, see EuroNCAP.

#2 Learn basic car maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to ensuring your safety on the roads. And a little bit of time spent learning what's under the bonnet could save you from having to fork out hundreds for a mechanic.

You should learn:

  • how to check and top up the oil, coolant, screen wash and transmission fluid
  • how to check for wear on your windscreen wipers
  • how to check your tyres, what depth the tread should be, the correct pressure and how to change the tyre pressure
  • how to change a tyre

#3 Know the warning signs

Take notice if your car starts doing anything unusual. Funny noises, warning lights on the dashboard, stalling, drips on the ground where you’ve parked… that kind of thing.

If you suspect something is wrong, getting your car checked out early is usually better than waiting until it conks out, and could save you a lot of money. 

#4 Be equipped for driving in summer

In summer, keep a regular check on your coolant as engines can overheat, which can be both dangerous and expensive. 

In the heat, any weaker parts of rubber on your tyres can become fragile. This can be made worse if the pressure is low, so check them regularly. Also, keep a pair of sunglasses in the car – the summer glare can be dazzling. To save on fuel, turn off your air con when the car’s interior gets to a comfortable temperature.

#5...and driving in winter

Winter driving also comes with its dangers. When the weather is bad, don’t forget to put your lights on, and allow for a longer stopping distance (10 times the norm).

If you don't feel safe, pull over when you can and wait for the weather to ease. Make sure you avoid any waterlogged roads, and watch out for oncoming traffic creating a wave that could go into your engine. 

Always keep your lights, windscreen and registration plate clean. The AA recommends that your tyres have a minimum of 3mm tread depth in the winter to allow for bad road conditions.  

If you have to drive in wintry weather, make sure you've cleared the car of ice or snow and drive slowly and carefully. Also remember to turn your fog lights off when visibility has improved otherwise you'll dazzle other traffic.

#6 Get yourself an essential car kit (your mum will be proud)

Now this may sound like something your grandparents may have in the back of their car, but don't scoff – it could make all the difference. Having an 'essential kit' will mean that you'll be prepared for any eventuality. From an empty fuel can to a supply of food and drink, having the right kit on board can help your trip run smoothly.  

Check out the essential list of things to keep in your car.

#7 Improve your driving

If you think driving on a motorway is about as terrifying as a parachute jump, you might benefit from a motorway driving course. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) provides courses and assessments to help with all levels of driving, from helping you gain confidence to giving you advanced-level experience. 

Pass Plus is a government recognised practical driving course designed to improve your skills and help you to drive more safely.

A bonus is that some insurance providers recognise an advanced driver’s course qualification and might offer you a discount on your premium.

#8 Plan ahead for long journeys

Whenever you're off on a journey, it's always a good idea to prepare for your road trip in advance. Familiarise yourself with the route and plan places to stop for a snack or a break. 

Put the route into your sat nav or mobile phone, but always take a paper map in case you lose your signal. Oh, and don't forget your charger.  

Check the weather on your route too... it might be sunny at home but throwing it down further on in your journey. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there. Being late is a big distraction when driving and can make you take silly risks.

#9 Get the right car insurance

Car insurance for young drivers is expensive. Compare car insurance in minutes to see if you can find a great deal.

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