The hidden costs of car ownership

24 January 2022

As of 2020, there were 31,695,988 cars on the road – that’s more than one for every two people. Which means that if you’re reading this, you’ve probably got a car (or two) sitting on your drive.

We know that having easy access to your own vehicle makes life simple – no more battling with the rain and lugging heavy shopping bags home – but how much is it really costing you?

Let’s do some sums…

Purchase price

The cheapest drivable car we could find on AutoTrader was a 2005 Toyota Yaris for £300, but, when it comes to cars, you get what you pay for.

If you wanted to splash the cash, you could get a 2014 Honda Jazz (Autotrader’s most reliable used car) for £4,500.

Or if you wanted something even more swanky, a brand new BMW 3 series would set you back £32,100.

It’s clearly an extremely wide range, but the point remains – it’s going to cost you something.



Before you set off, you’ll need insurance, the cost of which depends on a whole host of factors.

Taking the Honda Jazz above, a 35-year-old female, with 15 years of driving experience and a five-year no claims bonus would pay at least £336 annually for comprehensive cover.

The cost of insurance creeps up with the value of your car and the mileage you cover, as well as being impacted by any points on your licence or claims you have made – it’s not unheard-of to face an £1,000+ annual bill.


To get insurance, you need a valid MOT certificate if your car is three years old or over.

The MOT is an annual test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions and is a legal requirement – the fine for driving without one is up to £1,000.

For a standard car, the maximum cost of an MOT is £54.85 – that’s every year. And of course, the test may throw up issues that need fixing before it’s roadworthy, so that’s another cost.


Unlike an MOT, servicing is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended to keep your car in tip-top condition.

Ideally, you’ll have a service every year or every 12,000 miles, which will check up to 50 components, including an engine oil change, assessing lights, tyres, exhaust and operations of brakes and checking the suspension.

Costs depend on the make and model of your car, but the average price of a service in the UK is £151.


If you can get it (fuel shortages being a staple feature of headlines at the time of writing), petrol is another major cost of car ownership.

With unleaded priced at £132.2 per litre, if you commute 30 miles a day, that’s going to add up to more than £17 a week – with five weeks holiday a year, you’re looking at nearly £800 just to get to work.


The average car loses about 15 per cent of its value per year, so in five years that Honda Jazz that you’ve spent £4,500 on may be worth more like £1,996.

Which means that simply owning a car has cost you nearly £3,000 before you’ve driven anywhere.


If you go anywhere, you’ll need to park, and, more often than not, that’s going to cost you. Or perhaps you even need a permit to park outside your own home.

The cost of parking depends on where you live and where you go, but most people are looking at paying at least £200 a year.

The cost of car ownership for one year – not including the vehicle itself – comes to £1,541. And don’t forget, that’s before anything has gone wrong; repairs can add to that cost considerably.

So, there we have it: the cost of car ownership for one year – not including the vehicle itself – comes to £1,541. And don’t forget, that’s before anything has gone wrong; repairs can add to that cost considerably.

Added to this the fact that, post-pandemic, many of us are using our cars less than ever, either through working from home or shopping locally, and we have to wonder if it’s worth it.

The Co Wheels car sharing club gives you the best of both worlds; use of a car when you need it, without being tied into paying for the upkeep.

Prices start at just £4.75 an hour, and you’ll have access to 100s of vehicles across the UK.

With a community of members up and down the UK, Co Wheels Car Club is a cheap and convenient way to use a car, while saving money and doing your bit for the environment.

From a micro car to a seven-seater, you can choose whichever car suits your needs and simply return it when you’re done – it’s as simple as that, with no hidden costs.

Maybe it’s time to get on the road to car-sharing?