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The most expensive cities in the UK to own a car

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Written by Marianne Curphey

Birmingham is the most expensive place in the UK to be a driver, costing the average motorist £3,326. This makes it even more costly than London, Manchester, and Belfast according to a new survey.

Taking into account insurance, permits, fuel, and parking, drivers in Birmingham pay almost twice as much in car costs as those in Exeter, where drivers spend an average of just £1,675.  

On average they pay £1,125.91 for car insurance, £226.20 for parking, £785 for a resident permit, and £1,189.76 on petrol costs. 

Second on the list is Manchester, with average annual costs of £2,994.36 for drivers. This is made up of an average cost of £1,037.40 for petrol, £178.36 for parking, a £650.00 residents parking permit, and insurance costs of £1,128.60.

Third and fourth places go to London and Belfast with overall average costs of £2,921.12 and £2,737.10 respectively, according to the data published in January 2020 from Kwik Fit.

The data from Kwik Fit looked at 20 cities across the UK and includes parking and permit costs from council websites, average insurance costs, and research by Consumer Intelligence. 

However, other costs, such as car finance, can also make a significant impact to how much drivers spend on their cars each year.

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Insurance

When it comes to car insurance, drivers in London have the highest premiums, paying an average of £1,433.88 annually. This is compared to £869.54 for those living in Preston and £559.47 for drivers in Exeter.

Insurers look at lots of different factors when pricing insurance but where you live has a big impact. Areas of high crime, for example, are likely to be more expensive than those with low crime. If the data were to include countryside areas or smaller towns, the price for insurance would probably be a lot lower on average.

Fuel

Drivers spend the most on petrol in Belfast, according to the research, with average annual outgoings of £1,506.96. While those living in Southampton have the cheapest average costs for petrol, of those cities listed, at an average of £797.16 a year.

The cost of petrol depends on how much you’re using but also where you’re filling up. Using a free calculator such as Petrolprices.com is a good way to make sure you’re only buying petrol from the cheapest local garage, and not being ripped off. 

Parking

Nottingham has the most expensive parking costs on average at £284.96 followed by Leeds at £277.16, Birmingham at £226.20, and London at £201.24.

In a separate study from the RAC, it showed that private parking firms were set to issue almost 2 million more tickets in 2019 to 2020 compared with the previous 12 months. It said 8.6million tickets could have been issued up to April 2020 by “out of control juggernaut” parking firms. This would have been a 26% rise annually.

Residents permits

The data put Liverpool, Leeds, and Nottingham at the cheapest end of the scale because you don’t always need a residents permit for parking here. At the other end of the scale Birmingham had average costs of £784 for permits.

Most expensive towns to drive in, by average annual cost.

Most expensive towns to drive in, by average annual cost

RankCityPetrolParkingResidents permitInsuranceTotal cost
1Birmingham£1,189.76£226.20£785£1,125.91£3,326.87
2Manchester£1,037.40£178.36£650£1,128.60£2,994.36
3London£1,131£201.24£155£1,433.88£2,921.36
4Belfast£1,506.96£170.04£30£1,030.10£2,737.10
5Preston£1,452.36£124.80£25£869.54£2,471.70
6Leeds£1,107.60£277.16£0£990.50£2,375.26
7Liverpool £1,064.44£104£0£1,140.40£2,038.84
8Nottingham£1,202.76£284.96£0£794£2,282.51
9Sheffield £1,068.60£96.72£260£841.91£2,267.23
10Glasgow£1,040£130£285£735.78£2,190.78
11Coventry£1,157£132.60£25£865.47£2,180.07
12Leicester£1,076.40£148.20£25£830.93£2,080.53
13Brighton£1,106.56£177.84£130£648.76£2,063.16
14Reading£1,191.84£102.96£40£696.44£2,031.24
15Cardiff£1,053£132.08£7.50£771.27£1,963.85
16Edinburgh£995.28£72.80£254£600.33£1,922.41
17Bristol£1,043.12£121.16£50£696.18£1,910.46
18Newcastle£915.72£182.52£25£744.87£1,879.11
19Southampton£797.16£114.40£100£688.66£1,700.22
20Exeter£924.04£162.24£30£559.47£1,675.75

Source: KwikFit data