On average, UK drivers face some of the most expensive car ownership fees of any nationality, with insurance, fuel, parking and repair bills stacking up to a huge yearly overhead. But while most British motorists are resigned to the fact that driving is more affordable in other parts of the world, what if we told you it’s cheaper to run your car just a few hundred miles down the road?
That’s right, where you live in the UK dictates how much you pay to own a car, and the margin of difference is actually quite staggering. From insurance to repair bills, you could save hundreds of pounds on the cost of running a car, simply by moving to the other side of the country.
Here, we compare the biggest expenses of car ownership to find the most expensive places to run a car in the UK.
No matter where you live in the UK, the cost of car insurance always comes as a nasty surprise. Alongside fuel, insurance is the single biggest overhead faced by UK drivers, and it’s only getting worse, as shown in this report by Confused.com.
While insurance providers base premiums on a number of factors, one of the main criteria is your address and postcode. Live in a desirable area with a low rate of crime, and you’ll pay less for insurance than those in an at-risk part of town — and the difference can be sizeable.
In 2014, a Daily Mail article revealed the most expensive postcodes for car insurance in the UK, with Birmingham coming top for the priciest premiums. The article was based on a survey conducted by SmartWitness Incident Cameras, which found that insuring a BMW 3 Series in Birmingham is £944 more expensive than insuring the same car in Aberdeen. That’s a year’s worth of petrol.
Alongside Birmingham on the list of pricey postcodes were London, Manchester, Liverpool and Bradford, where insurance premiums tend to be much higher than in surrounding areas. Interestingly, several Scottish cities were ranked among the cheapest places to insure a car in Britain, with Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee all offering cheap-as-chips car insurance.
Our advice? Head north of the border for the cheapest car insurance, and avoid the mean streets of the city to keep your premiums down.
Paying to park is a daily headache for many motorists, and can add considerable expense to your monthly motoring budget. But while coughing up a couple of quid to park in town might seem steep, spare a thought for those who have to pay to park outside their own house.
Parking permits apply in towns and cities across the UK, and can be a huge financial burden for those affected. In 2016, new research revealed that local councils have hiked permit prices by 51% since 2011, with some residents now forced to shell out £800 per year to park close to home.
Of the areas with the highest parking permit prices, many were big cities — including Birmingham (£785), Manchester (£750), Edinburgh (£600) and London (£545). This is in stark contrast to the national average for a parking permit, which comes in at a much more reasonable £64.
For the very cheapest parking prices, avoid major cities and try to find a house with a driveway.
Paying to have the car repaired is enough to reduce some motorists to tears, particularly if it’s a pricey job with no upper limit to how much the work could cost.
And just to add to the misery, research carried out by Auto Express and Warrantywise in 2015 revealed huge variations in hourly workshop charges — so you could end up paying more (or less, fingers crossed) to have your car repaired depending on where you live.
The research reveals massive disparities in hourly work rates at garages across the UK, with Auto Express describing the variation in price as a ‘postcode lottery’ for motorists.
The cheapest average labour costs were found in Kirkwall, Orkney, where mechanics charge around £44 per hour. This sounds cheap when you compare it to some of the priciest labour fees, which occur in areas of South West London. Here, drivers face average costs of £141 per hour — a 200% price hike across 700 miles.
And it gets worse. Visit a specific mechanic in West Byfleet, Surrey, and you can expect to pay £240 an hour, the highest cost for car repair in the UK. Meanwhile, if you head north to Birmingham, you can enjoy the cheapest per hour rate of any garage in the country — just £36 per hour to be precise.
Ever noticed that fuel prices change depending on where you are in the country? The next time you take a long drive, keep an eye on the price of petrol and diesel, and we guarantee you’ll notice a difference.
Fuel prices vary around the UK, and this is down to a number of factors, including the size of the company running the pumps, the size of their customer base and the intensity of the competition.
For instance, a family-run fuel station in the countryside is likely to charge more for petrol and diesel than a station operated by a corporation in a built-up area. This is because they have fewer customers and less competition, meaning they can charge higher rates to cover their own business costs.
In contrast, petrol stations operated by big businesses in towns and cities have to compete for custom, meaning they’re forced to charge less per litre of fuel. The difference in fuel price between town and country can be dramatic, and this is something that’s seen across the UK.
For the cheapest fuel prices, you’ll need to head into cities like Hull, Glasgow, Leeds and Brighton, which offer cheaper rates on petrol and diesel than most other places in the country (according to the latest figures from PetrolPrices.com). This is compared to the price of topping up the tank in smaller towns like Harrogate, Hastings and Trowbridge, which are normally a few pence pricier.
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