Spill the beans... on ways to cut the cost of learning to drive

Former_MSE_Debs Posts: 890 Forumite
edited 4 September 2012 at 2:41PM in Motoring
Spill the beans... on ways to cut the cost of learning to drive

As if tax, insurance and petrol costs weren't enough, the cost of learning to drive in the first place can be huge. You can't get around the price of the tests, but there are ways to save on learning the theory and practical skills of driving. (Be warned parents and children: DIY lessons can be stressful...).

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  • Sharon87
    Sharon87 Posts: 4,011
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Best way I've found is to find a good reputable instructor. One that won't keep you on just because he needs the money.

    Also discount bundles are good, but only once you've found the right instructor. Have a lesson or 2 and then if they're a good instructor, buy as many lessons you can at a discounted rate. It's good to save the money first before you start. I saved about £500 before I decided to learn. (but realistically you'll need more than this, I used my credit card after this!)

    If you run out of cash halfway through learning to drive and have to put lessons on hold this can actually waste money, as you'll need to be refreshed when you go back to it. So make sure you have enough money for how many lessons you and your instructor think you will need.

    If you book your test and you feel you aren't ready, you can postpone it, unless it's within 3 working days of the test. Don't waste the £62 on a really bad test experience, wait until you're ready.

    Anyway that's my tips. I took some of the tips when I learnt, and also learned some of these tips from making the mistake. I learnt with BSM, pricey, but they did discounts and had a good reputable instructor who taught me well, and I passed my test first time, and quicker than I thought I would learn too.
  • Legally, instructors are not allowed to charge people for lessons until after they've qualified, nor are they allowed to accept goods in lieu of payment (including the cost of petrol). However, instructors will want to have some experience of teaching before they start to charge.

    What does this mean? If you're fortunate, you can find a local independent business where the owner is starting to learn to teach driving full-time. They will want pupils to practice with and will be unable to charge them for the privilege. They're tricky to track down and you won't get someone with much experience, but it means that you can learn, essentially, for free.

    With the cost of petrol, insurance, vehicle, and time, not many instructors do this nowadays. Nonetheless, in the local area there have been at least half a dozen new instructors who have taken this route over the past few years, so it's worth keeping an ear to the ground.
  • Some instructors offer fixed priced courses, including test fees. I know a few people who have gone down this route. It can be a saving over ad-hoc or even block booking discounts.

    Block bookings usually attract a lower hourly rate than ad-hoc lessons. Likewise most independent driving instructors will offer discounts but you have to ask.

    Never sign up for a block of lessons without having a couple of sample lessons (round here they are beginners or assessment lessons).

    Disclaimer: I am married to an independent driving instructor
    £2 savers club = £52 - spending money for holiday
  • Finding a good instuctor isn't easy, but these tips may help, the cheapest rate per hour may be a false economy as they may stretch out your period of learning meaning you will pay for more lessons than you may otherwise need; ask any instructor what their GRADE is, all D.S.A. quailified instructors are assessed every 3 - 4 years by the D.S.A. for thier continued ability to give instruction ( a Check test ) and from that they receive a GRADE grading is from 1 to 6 ( 1 being the lowest and the worst possible grade) they must attain at least a grade 3 any instructor with a grade lower than that can expect to be put on notice to improve or be removed from the register of approved driving instructors meaning they can no longer instruct; ask your proposed instuctor for their check test grade a 5 or 6 is very good ( a grade 6 is usually someone who teaches insructors ) and are very rare; A good instructor will usually tell you what you next lesson will be about and what sections of the highway code to read up on in advance of your next lesson so they don't have to waist valuable lesson time explaining it to you, they should ask you questions on the highway code to check that you have read and understood the parts pertaining to the lesson you are about to take; Paying for multiple lessons in advance may give you a small discount, but remenber that if you don't turn up for or cancel a lesson at short notice you will lose the fee for that lesson; Take two lessons a week more if you can afford it you won't lose the "momentum" of learning that you will if you only take 1 hour per week meaning fewer lessons. Hope this helps.
    Drive safe ALLWAYS.
  • A2brutay
    A2brutay Posts: 1 Newbie
    edited 5 September 2012 at 10:48AM
    Reading the other comments, I'd just like to pass on my own experiences about my daughter passing her test. About 3 years ago we did a cost benefit analysis of the least expensive way to pass a driving test. The results were: we purchased a secondhand Peugeot 206 with tax and a years MOT for £1100, which looked a wreck but had no obvious defects. The years insurance was £550 with my daughter as the main driver and myself as the named driver. I then proceeded to teach her, first starting out in the local industrial estate at weekends and then onto the roads around the estate until she was confident and competent enough to drive on all types of roads. After about 15 months driving, by which time she'd driven about 2000 miles she had some "proper" lessons with a driving instructor which cost about £250. Adding in the cost of the test etc, she passed first time around with one minor, total cost excluding petrol will have come to approximately £2000. She sold the car soon after passing her test, and after cost of new MOT and repairs, she realised £350, so in effect the cost of gaining her licence was £1650. The major benefits of having done it this way, were that she was a good, confident and competent driver on the day she passed her test and she accrued a year's no claims bonus, which is worth having as her insurance more than doubled the day she passed her test. The other benefit was having a car when my car wasn't available eg at the garage being serviced. I didn't include petrol costs in my calculations as, apart from the initial lessons, whenever we could, my daughter would drive everywhere we needed.
    Would I do it again, and do I think it was better value doing it this way? I would definitely say yes. I think the largest benefit by far, which money can't buy, is peace of mind, knowing that my daughter was a fairly proficient driver on the day she passed her test.
  • Legally, instructors are not allowed to charge people for lessons until after they've qualified

    Sorry but this information is totally incorrect Trainee instructors are allowed to teach on a trainee badge and charge exactly the same price as fully qualified instructions
  • Just a couple of inputs from myself
    1. agree with Dippydora that trainees can charge for lessons, they have yet to pass the third of their tests but are under the supervision of a qualified instructor, they will show a triangle pink badge as opposed to a heactagonal green badge.
    2. All instructors have to maintain a grade 4 or above not a grade 3, gradings can be a little incongruous as some instructors like pupils suffer from nerves when being tested !
    3. Pass rates are sometimes quoted but again beware, rates are not routinely given to instructors as previously so are calculated by the instructors themselves and impossible to check.
    4. Beware teaching others especially offspring unless a qualified instructor, dual controlls are not added for no reason!, you will probably not have the skills, knowledge or patience to give good quality accurate information as we generally do not have to retake tests and things have changed hugely.
    5. try to learn regularly without large breaks as these will set you back, lesson lengths of 1.5 hrs work best for most people, 1 hr means you cannot, in most areas, experience the range of road conditions needed but concentration often lapses afer 1 hr 40 mins
    6. If you have the opportunity to do private practice this is great as long as done in conjunction with the instructor to practice skills learnt in lessons.
    7. Think hard about " the cheapest way possible" after all learning to drive means you are allowed to pilot a killing machine and if you fluke a test without sufficient skill it could be a deadly mistake,
    I realise everyone wants to save money and i include myself there but a driving licence is something you should earn and not expect without inputing some time and effort.
  • note_2
    note_2 Posts: 169 Forumite
    edited 5 September 2012 at 4:56PM
    i had about 30 hours tuition, passed second time.

    had one intro lesson with a reccomended instructor (£20, then block booked the next 20 hours and went lesson by lesson after that). about £18 an hour.

    provisional insurance to practice with my dad was about £80.

    total cost all in including things like provisional license was about £850 once i add it all up.

    i did about 4 hours a week and learnt quite quickly as each lesson wasnt that far apart.... i would reccomend this.

    from first lesson to license was about 8 weeks, would have passed in 6 weeks but failed due to going 35 briefly in a 30 zone :(
  • Cards on the table first - I am an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor), so hopefully the following will give you a view from both sides of the fence :beer:
    Learning to drive can be an expensive journey, however there are things you can do to save. The most important thing is remembering to keep a balance between safety and cost saving. Good training and as much experience as possible before taking the test DRAMATICALLY increase the level of safety on the road. Saving a few £ on lessons will seem very insignificant compared to an insurance claim, an accident or a life.

    But there is plenty you can do, and some of it will make you/your child safer on the road:

    Start Early - Most parents start thinking about the important subject of driver education too late, in fact 17 years too late! Peoples attitudes, belief structures and habits are not developed by ADIs, they are developed by parents and peers. This starts from day 1. So make sure you work towards someone who has good knowledge of the roads and road safety as a pedestrian, as a cyclist and as a passenger.
    Play the "Know your Road Signs" game, teach them which lights mean what, etc. This will all decrease the time it takes to become safe.

    Get started at 16 - You cant start driving on the road until you are 17 (Unless in receipt of Higher level DLA). But why not get together with other parents/other 16 year olds and get a local ADI to give theory training, and even some off road if you can find a suitable patch. Better still, get onto the school. It can be delivered as part of the Personal Development part of the curiculum, therefore not costing you a penny!

    Book early! - You wouldn't believe how many calls I get saying "I want to book lessons for my son/daughters birthday.....its this Thursday..." As with many jobs, good ADIs get booked up in advance. If it takes 3-6 months (at 2 hours a week) to train, you need to be thinking of booking 6 months in advance!

    Get a good compatible ADI - But identifying one is not easy. Don't be driven by price. Have a conversation, be driven by your impressions, reputation and recommendations. A good ADI will get quicker passes than a weaker one. 20 hours @ £25 is better than 40 hours @ £15 not to mention the test day costs of £100+ everytime you attempt a test. The aim is to pass with as few attempts as possible!
    If chosing a large franchised ADI (and there are equally ggod franchised ADIs as Independent like myself) Try to get a name to request, rather than taking pot luck.
    Yes Instructors are graded (6 being the highest). But I have met some excellent Grade 4s and some awful Grade 6s, and its effectiveness is questionable to say the least. Remember, customer is king. If you don't get on, or think they are not doing what is best for you, discuss it with them and when necessary move on. SO MANY people suffer in silence or through loyalty!
    Good instructors do regular CPD (Continuous Professional Development) - Ask them what they have done recently to develop their skills. This will often tell you how committed they are to doing their best for you.
    There are "Trainee Licenses" (Pink Badges), although the system is due to be changing at some point, but again this doesn't mean you shouldn't learn with one. Experienced ADI Vs Fresh Training and Enthusiasm (and maybe a saving?). I would decide based on the individual. Make sure whoever you use has a valid badge, if in doubt call the DSA and ask. Paying an unlicenced Instructor is both illegal and dangerous as they will not be insured!

    Don't try DIY - Let a qualified ADI do the first lessons. As with any development, strong foundations are key. If you start the wrong way it takes a lot of retraining (and therefore £££) to rectify! Use 'Private Practice' to practice what you/they learnt from their ADI.

    Provisional Insurance - It is often cheaper (Pro Rata) to insure a learner on a provisional insurance. This also protects the main policy holders no claims bonus (I will post a link on a following post as I am not sure if it is allowed. Otherwise just search online for it).
    Think of it like an add on insurance through a 3rd party. By not having to take out a full year you can save on the policy. AND once you pass you can get the best insurance for the Full Licence Holder.

    Private Practice - If you are going to be accompanying a learner driver, ask their ADI for a driving assessment. Understand modern techniques and you will be able to help them pass with less paid for hours.

    Budget and Plan - Timescale, consistency and practice are key. Intensive courses generally have low pass rates and the drivers are less competent after passing. Taking gaps due to low funds and/or breaks increase the overall cost dramatically. Make sure you have time, money and commitment to tackle it in one go, and you will save a large amount. Expect to take 40 hours - Some take less, Some take more. But a realistic approach to starting means you are more likely to succeed with cash in your pocket next to the new pink licence (.....which will soon go on fuel, insurance, tax.......)

    Remember - Operating a car is relatively easy. Staying safe on todays roads, understanding the risks and adapting to them, that is the hard part!

    To finish on a quote from JFK - "Modern cynics and skeptics see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those whom they entrust the care of their plumbing" Driving is a skill for life, its worth the investment.

    I hope this helps!
  • Passwithcbs
    Passwithcbs Posts: 2 Newbie
    edited 6 September 2012 at 12:41AM
    I have discovered I cannot post with links. If someone who can is able to contact me I will happily provide them!

    Make sure that you only book through the direct.gov website. There are 100s of sites that charge you between £20-60 booking fees for both the theory and practical! This is non-refundable! Do it directly and it is FREE! Just the test fee to pay (Remember the ADIs car & time is not included in this and the Driving Examiners do NOT provide a vehicle)
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