After passing your driving test, you’ll probably be itching to get on the road. There’s a lot involved with owning a car and being a good driver, so we’ve covered off most of the basics in this quick-reference guide.
Continuing your learning
Under current rules, learners don't experience motorways before passing their test. These rules may change in future, but if you're a complete novice we've put together a short guide full of practical tips about driving safely on the motorway.
Pass Plus is an official course you can take any time after passing your test. This includes six hours of practical lessons with an approved driving instructor. Each lesson is an hour long and covers a different topic - driving at night, on a motorway, driving on rural roads and so on. There's no test involved, but you'll be continually assessed. And don't worry, failing won't have any impact on your driving licence.
Advanced driving courses
There are also a variety of advanced driving courses you can take, from organisations such as the IAM RoadSmart. These are for very capable drivers, so in all probability you won't be able to take one of these straight away - unless you're the next Max Verstappen. Taking an advanced driving course will have no official impact on your driving licence because the test is not standardised across all the organisations that offer them. That said, some insurers will offer you a discount on your car insurance if you provide a copy of your pass certificate.
Buying a car
Whether you'll be using your car as a runaround getting you from A to B, or you'll be doing lengthy commutes or road trips, a car will more than likely be one of the most expensive purchases any of us will ever make, so getting it right is important. We've written about buying your first car here, covering things like where to buy from, choosing the right car, and getting it checked over.
Taking out car finance
If your lessons have eaten up all your cash reserves, you'll need to borrow to purchase a car. Whether you're buying new or used, you can arrange the credit through a dealer or you can arrange your own personal finance. Either way, you'll be subject to a credit check.
Admiral now offer Car Finance in the form of a loan, a personal contract plan (PCP) or hire purchase (HP).
An unsecured personal loan is where you borrow what you need to buy the car outright and then pay it back monthly. The benefit of this is that you own the car outright from day one.
A PCP deal means you don't make repayments on the full value of the car, and instead you have a 'balloon payment' which you pay back at the end if you wish to keep the car.
A hire purchase plan is when the company offering finance owns the car as security. Ownership passes to you once you repay the loan in full.
Car insurance prices all come down to risk. Insurers calculate the price of your insurance based on the risk you present, and as an inexperienced driver your risk is higher. The car you choose is naturally an important part of calculating your premium. Our article on the 10 cheapest cars for young drivers to insure is a good place to start getting inspiration. If you have no fault claims on your policy, you'll receive a discount on the following year. This No Claims Bonus can help to reduce the cost of your car insurance premium. A fault claim is one where your insurer hasn't been able to reclaim the cost of repairs (or replacement) from someone else. i.e. if the car is stolen or broken into, you have an accident and its your fault, or fault is split between you and another driver.
Black Box Insurance
Sometimes known as 'telematics' insurance, these policies are popular with new drivers as they can help the better drivers get a discounted premium. At Admiral, we know not all new drivers are high risk, so we created LittleBox to reward safer drivers. You'll have a small unit fitted out-of-sight in your car for 10 or 12 months which monitors your driving habits - things like harsh braking and accelerating. It calculates a score that you can track online and try to improve with our handy tips. The good news is the better your score, the bigger the discount â€“ and with LittleBox, 80% of our customers have a discounted price at renewal.
Car Sharing Insurance
If you're going to be sharing a car with someone long term, like a parent or sibling, you'll need to be added to their insurance policy. An extra cost will be calculated, worked out pro rata until the policy runs out; the extra cost will either be due as a lump sum or spread over monthly payments. If you're just borrowing someone else's car temporarily, say for example, you're sharing the driving on a road trip, you can arrange Car Sharing Insurance. This is a new kind of policy that provides on-demand short-term cover for someone else's car. To find out if this is suitable for you, read more in our car sharing insurance guide.
Taxing your car
While buying a car is definitely the biggest outlay, the costs don't stop there. Cars can be expensive in terms of maintenance and legal documents such as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) tax, and MOTs. When it comes to tax, the cost depends on the kind of car you buy - vehicle tax rates are based on engine size, or fuel type and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, depending on when the vehicle was registered. But if you're looking for savings anywhere you can get them, there are some vehicles which are tax free, yes, free! See Carwow's list of tax-free cars. The current rules state that any new car emitting less than 100g/km CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) are in VED Band A, which means zero spend on tax. If you're looking at buying a brand new car, the rules are changing as of 1 April 2017, so make sure you read up on the changes before you buy. You can pay your road tax annually or monthly, and it can all be arranged online. The car will need to have a valid MOT certificate (if it's over three-years-old) to arrange tax.
MOT and servicing
Every car needs to undergo an MOT test on the third anniversary of its first registration, and then annually after that. The test is to ensure the car is in roadworthy condition, and checks everything from lights and tyres to windscreen wiper jets and exhaust emissions. The maximum price a garage can charge for an MOT is £54.85; but with every four out of 10 cars in the UK failing the test each year, the repair bills can soon add up. We've put together a step-by-step guide, with the help of Halford's Autocentres, which covers the easy jobs you can do at home to help your car pass its MOT. As with road tax, you won't have to have an MOT if the car is declared off the road. Annual servicing is not compulsory but is highly recommended. Your car's warranty could be invalidated if you fail to keep up with the manufacturer's specified servicing schedule. It's worth noting that your car may need servicing more than once a year if you cover a large number of miles.
A service covers all sorts of checks to ensure the car is running at its prime, and includes things like an engine oil change. The cost will vary from one garage to the next, so shop around and make sure you trust the people who are looking after your car. Some milestone services should not be missed. These milestones will be after a certain number of years or miles, and include significant maintenance (like a cam belt change) that's vital to ensure the continued reliable running of the car. And if you decide to sell your car in the future, a full service history is very attractive to potential buyers - so get those service books stamped each time!