Published: 06/02/2020
  • Half of 17-24-year-old drivers (49%) have received financial support from their parents to help them run their car over the last twelve months
  • Parents contributed an average of £485 to their child’s car running costs last year
  • More than half of young drivers (53%) and three quarters (74%) of their parents say that, without parental contributions to motoring costs, their job would suffer.

23 January 2020 – Almost half (49%) of drivers between the ages of 17-24 say they have received financial support from their parents towards their motoring costs over the last 12 months – receiving an average of £485 – according to new research from comparethemarket.com. This equates to a nationwide total £661 million of parental aid. Parents say the level of financial input required to keep their kids on the road is even higher - 61% of parents say that they have helped their children with the high expense of running a car.

The Tank of Mum and Dad Research highlights just how reliant young drivers are on their parents to help them pay for insurance, petrol, repairs and motoring taxes. Almost a third of parents (31%) said that they paid some or all of the costs for the duration of their child’s first year driving. Nearly a fifth (18%) contributed for the first two years in which their child was on the road, and almost one in ten (9%) kept up the contributions for three years.

How much are parents giving?

Parents contribute most towards the cost of their child’s motor insurance – paying out an average of £321 towards insurance policies. The average annual premium for 17-24-year-old drivers reached £1,281 according to comparethemarket.com’s latest Premium Drivers report, meaning parents are paying for a quarter (25%) of this annual expense. Petrol is the second most common financial contribution required costing parents £191 a year, followed by vehicle repairs (£183) and vehicle tax (£129).

In addition, 38% of parents said that they helped their children purchase their first car – contributing an average of £2,103 to the cost of the car. 

  Insurance Petrol Repairs Vehicle tax All costs
Percentage of parents who have contributed to their child’s driving costs in the past 12 months 34% 30% 24% 22% 49%
Average amount parents have contributed to their child’s driving costs in the past 12 months £321.23 £191.50 £183.57 £129.50 £485.51

Impact on young people’s work lives

The research shows that, without parental support, it would be impossible for many young people to get on the road at all. Over half (53%) of young people say that their work life or job would suffer if their parents did not contribute towards the cost of running a car.

There is also a widespread view that salaries of those entering the world of work are not adequate to enable them to run a car independently; 83% of 17-24-year olds said that their pay cheque is not high enough to cover the cost of driving. Concerningly, if motoring costs continue to rise, 63% of young people say that they will no longer be able to afford to run a car.

Impact on young people’s social/family lives

The expense of running a car is having a clear impact on many young people’s social and family life. Over half (53%) of drivers aged 17 – 24 said that their social life would suffer without parental contributions to their motoring costs, while 30% said they would see their family less without that support.

The reliance of their children on the “tank of mum and dad” is clearly difficult for many parents. Over half (53%) of parents agree that having to support their child with costs associated with their car is a “financial burden” on them. Young people are very reluctant to receive the support in the first place, with half (50%) saying that they are embarrassed that they have to ask their parents for financial support to run a car.

Dan Hutson

Head of motor at Compare the Market

“It would be difficult for many to comprehend how they would get by without a car. It gets us to work and to see our friends and family. Yet, these statistics show beyond any doubt that the cost of running a car is becoming impossible for many young drivers to afford. A concerning proportion of people would be off the road without parental support, placing a considerable financial burden on mums and dads. It also means that, if costs continue to rise, some of those who can’t rely on parental support fear they could be out of a job.

“The new Government must look at ways of making driving more affordable for young people. It is not sustainable to rely on the generosity of parents to keep young people on the road. This demographic already pays far more to run a car than any other age group despite being least able to afford it. While switching provider on an annual basis will go some way to reducing the cost, we would call upon the new government to give an exemption to drivers under 25 on Insurance Premium Tax. This tax adds more than £150 on average to young drivers’ motoring costs.”

Notes to editors:

The research cited is based on one poll of 1,000 drivers aged 17-24 and one poll of 1,000 parents with children who can drive aged 17-24 by Populus. The research took place in November/December 2019.

Number of young drivers calculated using DVLA data.

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