Third of drivers take on additional debt to keep driving

17th May 2022

New research by comparethemarket.com has found that a third of drivers (31% think they will need to take on additional debt to afford to keep driving

One in four motorists (25%) has struggled to afford the cost of driving in the past month, whilst one in three drivers (33%) are worried that they won’t be able to cover the cost of driving in the coming weeks.

Driving has become increasingly unaffordable, as 84% of motorists have spent more on fuel in the past six months, and 29% have spent more on car insurance. As a result, almost one in three drivers (32%) has struggled to pay for fuel, and one in ten (11%) has found it difficult to cover the cost of car insurance.

Separate research shows that the average annual cost of driving a petrol-fuelled car has risen by £313 year-on-year in the first three months of 2022 to £1,843. This sharp rise in running costs has mainly been driven by increases in the price of petrol, as well as car insurance premiums. The average annual petrol cost is now £943 – a £221 increase compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the typical car insurance premium for a petrol-fuelled car has risen by £82 year-on-year, due to a rise in the value of second-hand cars and replacement part inflation.

Following the increase in the cost of running a car, six in ten (60%) motorists believe driving has become too expensive for most people to afford, and more than eight in ten drivers (84%) are now concerned about higher petrol and diesel prices. 40% of drivers say they don’t earn enough to cover the higher costs, and this figure increases to 55% for those aged between 25 and 34. In addition, nearly one in three motorists (31%) expect they will need to take on additional debt to afford to keep driving, and 18% have been forced to ask family or friends for financial support to run their car.

The increasing cost of driving is not only harming people’s finances but also their careers, as almost one in four drivers (24%) has said higher car running costs have meant their job has suffered. People’s social lives are another aspect that has been impacted, with 38% of drivers saying their social life has deteriorated. This figure rises to 52% for those aged between 25 and 34. Four in ten motorists (42%) have also visited their family less, due to the cost of driving.

To help mitigate rising driving costs, 49% of motorists are making fewer journeys, and 31% are using less fuel. Almost one in three (29%) are walking or cycling more, and 25% are cutting back elsewhere to afford fuel. Drivers could also save an average of £118 by shopping around for a cheaper deal on their car insurance when their policy ends.

Alex Hasty, Director at comparethemarket.com, said “As the cost of driving increases, it is becoming difficult for many drivers to stay on the road. Lots of people who do not live in a major city rely on their cars to get around. However, the high fuel costs are now forcing drivers to make fewer journeys, and some are needing to cut back on seeing friends and family. It is concerning that a number of people expect to go into debt to keep driving.” 

AVERAGE ANNUAL COST OF RUNNING A PETROL-FUELLED CAR

Cost name

2022 costs

2021 costs

Insurance

£680

£598

Fuel

£943

£722

Est. VED (Road Tax)

£165

£155

MOT

£55

£55

Total cost per year

£1,843

£1,530