Vehicle Maintenance and Insurance

The up-front purchase price of any vehicle isn’t the only cost you have to think about when buying a car. Sure, you’ll have budgeted a few hundred in repayments for your car finance but have you thought about your other expenses.

Fuel is fairly easy to budget for - the price of petrol, diesel or electricity is easy to calculate. But Maintenance and Insurance? They’re different beasts entirely.

Let’s look at Insurance first.

Illustration of car crashes, fires, water damage, theft

Car Insurance

When you’re talking about the cost of insurance, you might as well ask “how long is a piece of string?” There are so many variables! This is why many insurers and price comparison sites have software calculators on hand to give you a better idea of the numbers.

If you’ve not yet bought a car, however, and you’re wondering how much the car will cost to insure, you can look at the car’s listed Insurance Group.

What is an Insurance Group?

Essentially, it’s a number between 1-50 that has been agreed by members of the Association of British Insurers and the Lloyds Market Association, with help from the testing group Thatcham Research.

These three bodies look at every car on UK roads, put their heads together and decide what number to give it. Lower is cheaper, higher will cost more to insure.

Illustration of a car on a clipboard with a calculator, man holding giant pencil, some coins, a spreadsheet and trees

But How?

A safer, smaller and less expensive car will generally be cheaper to insure because if something does happen to it the cost of repair or replacement is lower. And if the car comes with extra security systems it’ll be cheaper still because it will be less likely to be stolen.

Ask yourself these questions when it comes to choosing your next car, and Google the results if you need to.

  • How big is this car?
  • How expensive is it? Is it a luxury car? (How likely is it to be stolen?)
  • How expensive are components and replacement parts likely to be?
    - Really popular cars will have more - and cheaper - spares.
    - Rarer and more expensive cars will have pricier spares.
  • Does it come with any built in security systems like alarms or immobilisers?

And when shopping around and comparing your cars, nip over to a site like Parkers to compare the Insurance Group of that specific model and match it with something else you might choose.

It might save you hundreds of pounds a year.

Car Maintenance

Illustration of mechanics working on cars

How much a car costs to maintain is a trickier calculation to make. Certain manufacturers are more reliable than others, certain models are too. This can even change by model year, with a 2014 car being less reliable than a 2016 car, even if it’s the exact same model.

Then there’s a question of how expensive repairs are likely to be. More complicated cars will take longer to take apart. Luxury car spares will carry luxury price tags.

In matters of Maintenance you’re going to have to do some online detective work but a general rule of thumb is:

The simpler, cheaper and more available a car is, the more affordable it is likely going to be to repair.

Electric cars do quite well, here. An EV generally has 3 or 4 moving parts to its drivetrain, which means less wear and tear and far less to go wrong. Batteries, too, come with very long warranties and have proven far more reliable than initially expected.

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