Learning to drive can be an invaluable skill to have, but it can also be expensive, even without the additional costs to come like buying a car, insuring it and taxing it.
To help you save money in the early days of your driving experiences, this article looks at six practical ways learner drivers can save money on driving lessons.
Learn theory first
Before even booking your first driving lesson, it can be highly beneficial to brush up on your theory. This will save you time and money in the long run because many driving instructors begin with the fundamentals of driving, covering essentials like The Highway Code and the basic mechanics of the car itself. Knowing all of this beforehand will cut down the time of the initial lesson, which in turn will save money, because you’ll already have a good idea of how everything works.
The best part is, you can learn the theory part of driving for free. There are plenty of free online resources available including The Highway Code and practice theory tests which can save you time and money in the long run. A theory test usually costs £23, which is why it can be a good idea to take a mock test before cracking on with the official one, so you won’t have to pay to retake.
It can also be a good idea to become familiar with the basic fundamentals of a car before your first driving lesson. One way to do this is by quizzing someone you know with experience in driving. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you get to know the location of the seatbelts, gear stick, clutch, brake, accelerator, side mirrors, and rear-view mirror.
It’s also good to learn what’s under the bonnet and how to maintain your car, including where the brake fluid goes, checking oil, coolant and windscreen washer levels. These are all things your driving instructor may go over with you in your first lesson, which is why it’s helpful to know beforehand to save time and therefore, money.
Look for free/cheap introductory lessons
Some driving schools offer reduced rates for introductory lessons and some even offer these lessons for free, which can be a great way to save money in the early stages of learning to drive. You can also search sites like Groupon or Wowcher for local driving schools offering special rates for the first few hours of tuition.
While having a free introductory lesson is a great way to save money, you need to make sure the deals aren’t too good to be true. All qualified and approved driving instructors (ADI) have a badge on display in their windscreen to prove that they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Make sure you check for this before you get in the vehicle to ensure you’re receiving a high-quality lesson. The badge will either be green or pink. A green badge means they’re a qualified instructor, while a pink badge means they’re a trainee instructor who is allowed to teach unsupervised while they are training.
Drive with a parent
Whether you already have a car of your own or a family member is willing to let you learn in theirs, there are plenty of ways you can learn to drive outside of your driving lessons. This is a sure way of helping you save money.
You’ll need to have a provisional licence (which costs £34 if you apply online or £43 if you apply by post), and you’ll need to be covered by an insurance policy designed for learner drivers. Insurance policies like these are perfect if you want to learn in your own car, and will also cover you if you want to learn in a friend or family member’s car.
When learning to drive, you must be accompanied by an experienced driver. The accompanying driver needs to be more than 25 years of age, with a valid UK driving licence which they have held for at least three years. Just make sure you choose the right family member – one who is patient and can remain calm. Your mad uncle with 9 points on his licence might not be the best bet!
Look into intensive driving lessons
Intensive driving courses can be a great way to save both money and time, especially if you’re juggling university or work and haven’t got a lot of time on your hands. An intensive driving course essentially crams the training you need to pass your test in a shorter timeframe than usual.
These courses usually last one or two weeks and consist of more than 30 hours of in-car training time. Legally, there’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practise driving, but the more lessons you have, the more confidence, experience and skill you’ll develop, giving you more of an advantage to pass first time.
The average cost of a driving lesson is approximately £24. If you combine this cost with the average amount of tuition hours (which is 47 hours according to the DSA), a learner will have to pay £1,128 for driving lessons alone. While the price of an intensive course can vary depending on which driving school you choose, on average, a five-day intensive course can cost around £600 – saving you a substantial amount of money in the long run.
If intensive courses feel too demanding, however, there are semi-intensive courses available which allow you to spread the lessons across a short period, usually between two and four weeks.
Block book lessons
Shelling out £20+ each time you have a lesson can get very costly. Luckily, some driving schools and private instructors offer discounts when you book lessons in bulk. If you haven’t yet decided which driving school or instructor you wish to learn with, shop around a little to find the best deals.
While this may sound obvious, it’s worth saying. As soon as learner drivers get to grips with driving, they often end up panic-booking their driving test just so they can get on the road as fast as possible. It’s likely that doing this will in fact cost you more in the long-run because if you fail, you’ll have to pay out for another driving test.
A driving test alone can cost between £62 and £75 which is why it’s best to spend extra time on driving lessons before taking the test, ensuring you’re confident and well-prepared.