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The most expensive cities in the UK to own a car

Written by Marianne Curphey

Liverpool is the most expensive place in the UK to be a driver, costing the average motorist £4,000. This makes it even more costly than London and Manchester, according to a new survey.

Taking into account insurance, fines, fuel and car finance, drivers in Liverpool pay almost twice as much in car costs as those in Brighton, where drivers spend an average of just £2,000. Motorists in Norwich pay the least for car insurance and repairs.

The data analysed includes parking, congestion charges, fuel, vehicle tax, MOT tests, car finance, tolls, insurance, and repair bills, as well as speeding and parking fines.

Liverpool is followed by London (£3,862.61 a year) and Manchester (£3,517.41 a year), with the average annual cost of motoring across the UK coming in at £2,733.63. Insurance was the biggest cost, followed by fuel and car finance payments.

Even with the congestion charge in the capital, Liverpool comes out more expensive overall because of insurance costs. Manchester and Leeds are hotspots for speeding fines, according to the study by Privilege Car Insurance.

When it comes to car insurance, drivers in Liverpool have the highest premiums, paying an average of £2,072.37 annually. This compares to an annual payment of £1,030.76 for the average UK driver. Norwich residents pay only £513.02 – half of the national average.

London drivers pay the most for parking – £246 per year on average – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they also receive the most parking fines!

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Edinburgh is the most expensive city for fuel, with an average yearly cost of £997.78. The UK average is £884.88 a year on petrol or diesel.


Southampton is the most expensive town (£178.29 per year), followed by Edinburgh and Glasgow at £157.51 and £145.07 respectively. The most affordable town for repairs is Norwich (£99.75 per year).

Car finance

When the cost of car finance is averaged out over the different regions in the UK, the national average is £639.60 per driver. However, in terms of individual regions there are large variations. For drivers in Cardiff it works out at £1022.59 per year while in Brighton it is less than half the national average, at £265.67.

Vehicle tax

Drivers in Cardiff pay the least in the country, £77.46 – well below the national average of £107.57. Petrol or diesel cars pay £140 in tax, while electric vehicles attract no road tax and cars with a list price of more than £40,000 pay the higher rate of £450 per year. Regions which pay high rates of vehicle tax – such as Plymouth, Birmingham and London – may have higher numbers of expensive cars or fewer “green” cars such as electrics or hybrids.


You are most likely to receive a speeding fine in the north of England. Of all the cities in the UK, Manchester has the highest number of drivers who have been fined – 14% of those questioned in the survey. Leeds is close behind with 13%, London at 12% and Birmingham at 12%.

Being caught speeding is an expensive mistake – on average, drivers who were caught speeding paid an average of £116 to settle the fine.


London is the most expensive place to park, costing on average £246 a year, followed by Bristol, Newcastle and Leeds. London, Glasgow and Plymouth are the cities where motorists are most likely to be fined for flouting parking rules.

Overall, 18% of London residents received a parking fine in the last year, the highest number in the country. The average amount paid on parking fines across the UK is £121 per year.

In a survey by the RAC released last year, it found parking fines issued by private companies have increased by 28%. The motoring organisation estimated that UK drivers were receiving one parking ticket every seven seconds.

MOT tests

London garages charge the highest rate for MOT tests – averaging out at £63.44. Cardiff residents pay just £37.37 – well below the national average of £59.99.

Most expensive towns to drive in, by average annual cost

RankCityAverage annual cost
11Sheffield £2,710.86

Source: Privilege Car Insurance