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Driving Instructors and Car Running Costs


Could anyone recommend a good driving instructor in Cambridge?

Dave Bodnik, works out of Bar Hill (IIRC, the company has the work 'King' in the name). Father of a vague friend at school, taught both me and my brother. Very nice, and capable of talking to geek-a-like people.

My driving instructor was good - Michael George, does bookings through the AA and privately.  During the period in which I was having lessons he won an award for his pass rate.

Can I ask how much (in terms of both time and money) it costs to learn to drive nowadays?  And to run a car?  I've been rejecting it out of hand for too long, I could do with some hard figures to make up my mind sensibly.  --Vitenka
(PeterTaylor) I learnt with BSM, who charge 19.50 an hour, with a discount when you buy a large chunk. I initially paid 535 for 30 hours. Looking through the bank statements I can find, it appears I paid at least 960 pounds to BSM, but that includes paying for the theory and practical tests (which they book as a service at cost price). In addition, it costs IIRC about 45 total to apply for a provisional and to upgrade it when you pass. Note that I passed first time, although because of a hand injury I had to take a long break just before I was supposed to take the test, so I ended up having a few more lessons before taking it than I otherwise would. Therefore, learning with BSM at least, expect to pay 1000-1200.
Bloody hell! When I learnt (and this was, admittedly, some years ago) I had maybe four months of one lesson a week, 12 quid each, then maybe a few extra, totalling about 200 quid. Add to that fees for the test and the licence. Lesson: BSM are rip-off merchants (unless all the independents are charging similar amounts these days, but I can't believe it's gone up so much so quickly) and you certainly don't need thirty hours (!) as long as you do a little bit of practise without the instructor.
That was much my reaction on reading that - my lessons cost a tenner an hour when I learnt. I assume it's a combination of factors - the prices have gone up, *and* Cambridge is more expensive than South Wales, *and* BSM is more expensive than independents. - MoonShadow
(PeterTaylor) Most independents charged at least 15, usually more, 2 years ago. And doing a little practice without the instructor wasn't an option for me, unless I wanted to travel 100 miles to my parents' house to do it.
Yes, although it was 10-12/hour while I learned 8 years ago, the prices have been rising since.  BSM always were a bit more expensive than the competitors; some say they're worth it, some don't.  And while some people might not need 30 lessons, some might need more.  Both figuratively and literally, YMMV :):)  --AlexChurchill
(rephrased) Or if you happen to have a Grandad who is a driving instructor, you can get your lessons for free :) (Clearer?). --qqzm

Learned when 17, so around 4 years ago. I think I (well, parents) was paying about 13 ish an hour, 20 hours, plus theory and practical (and access to a car to practice a bit - although that was probably only about another 10-15 hours, and wasn't *that* useful). Probably something a little over 400, total. Insurance is probably more than MoonShadow suggests for the first couple of years, due to no-claims bonus, but once you pass 25, it gets a lot better. -- TI

Our car (R-reg Vauxhall Vectra, 109k miles) does ~7 miles to the litre, meaning petrol costs ~10-11p/mile. Tax costs 150-odd quid a year, MOT is usually ~30 quid for the test plus charges for whatever repairs need doing (we usually seem to spend ~200-250 quid a year on garage stuff); the manufacturer usually says you need to get the car serviced every 9000-12000 miles or 6-9 months - things like changing oil and filters and stuff; call it another hundred just to be pessimistic, although it's usually less (the bulk of the charge is labour, so if you're happy to do it yourself you can save on that. You may need access to a ramp/pit). Insurance varies by an order of magnitude depending on where you live, how old you are, how much your car is worth, how much excess you agree to and exactly what you want insured - you're best off getting quotes once you have a particular car in mind; but that'll probably be a couple of hundred a year. Bear in mind there's not much point getting fire, theft etc if the excess is comparable to what the car is worth anyway (not the case with our present car, but was the case with our last one); OTOH, old bangers cost more in repairs - personally I'd rather just pay up front and have something I can rely on to start in the morning. - MoonShadow

Third party insurance is legally compulsory though, isn't it? -- Bobacus
Fire and theft isn't, though, which is precisely why I suggested dropping those two rather than third party. - MoonShadow




Intensive Courses



Another alternative is an intensive driving course - usually 500-600 quid to go away to middle-of-nowhere-shire for a week, includes board and lessons and a test at the end; there's usually some sort of "you'll pass or we'll carry on teaching you until you do" guarantee. At least that's how things used to be a few years ago. No idea what it's like now. - MoonShadow
(PeterTaylor) At school, those who learnt like this were those who acquired the worst reputation as drivers. Again, YMMV.



Miscellaneous Car Info



[Car Tint and Window Film Information]


Is It Worth It?



So, in summary: 'Ouch'  Is that about right?  Glad I can back up my gut feelings rationally now.  --Vitenka
*shrug* it depends. What's your budget, what are you planning to use the car for, what are the alternatives and how much do they cost? Remember that money isn't the only cost involved; time and stress need to be taken into account too, both those spent on things like driving lessons and that spent stuck in public transport. - MoonShadow
(PeterTaylor) Ouch is about right. My family persuaded me (I had similar feelings) that it was worth learning while I was still young enough to learn something new.
FWIW, My car has cost about 1250/year in insurance + servicing + MOT + Direct Line rescue (although they dont seem to give me a special deal any more so I may switch to AA) + repairs [NB That excludes petrol]. The insurance cost has about halved after 2 years and I expect it to half again in March (since I'll be 25 and will get more no claims), and it's a Golf so it's not the absolute lowest insurance group. Learning to drive - you probably _need_ about 15 lessons at between 15 and 20 pounds each, then take the test. I dont remember there being so many fees and charges involved - I thought the whole thing cost me under 350 quid, although lessons were cheaper back then). Obviously if you fail the test you have to get more lessons and pay for another test, so it can mount up. OTOH, _having_ a car is far far more useful than you might believe, especially if you aren't lazy like me and drive rather than getting the train for long distance journeys -- Gwyntar

Well, the primary advantage of having a car, for me, would be the ability to live further from work - and thus, maybe, afford a place to live.  So if it doesn't make it cheaper, then there's no point.  I am well used to using coaches and trains to see my relatives etc.  The cost of that is negligable compared to the cost of a car.  I suppose that I could just get up earlier and get fitter so that I'd not mind longer cycle journeys.  --Vitenka
I spend about £900/year on bus tickets and probably ~150 on rail tickets - I wouldn't call that negligable. --SGB

General consensus here at the office seems to be that £2.5-3k/year on average is what people spend on cars, including *everything* - petrol, insurance, service, car loan repayments etc. So if it means you can get a house + job combination that saves/nets you 3k+ more than otherwise, it's probably worth it ^^; - MoonShadow
Saving 250 a month on rent around here isn't really going to be possible.  --Vitenka (I mean, ok, if I move to Oldham... but that's a five hour commute)
That depends on the quality of house you want. -- Bobacus




Can you drive (unsupervised/without L-plates/on a motorway) as soon as you've passed? Or do you have to send off for a full licence once you've passed and wait for that to come back? --Rachael (taking test next week)
I think that if you are asked for proof of license then provisional+"you passed" note is sufficient, and anyway you have seven days to provide such proof.  I think you have to wear the green l-plates until you pass some extra twiddly test, and until you do that you can't go on the motorway - but I'm not certain.  That part might not have been put into law, only talked about.  --Vitenka
As I understand it, once you've passed, you're immediately entitled to drive as a full driver (evidence for this - you may well not be allowed to drive your instructor's car back from the test centre, as he'll be insured for himself and learner drivers). Newly-passed plates are completely optional. Of course, if you do something naughty and the police stop you, you usually have 7 days to present your license at a police station - so I don't know what you'd be expected to do there. As ever, IANAL, AIHNTBO. --CH


Is often followed by BuyingACar.


CategoryCambridgeDirectory? (?), CambridgeLife?, CategoryLifeSkills?, CategoryTransport

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