All drivers know roughly how much they spend on insurance, tax, and fuel, but what about those other driving costs that you might not consider? Additional driving expenses can quickly add up, creating a ‘hidden’ cost to motoring that we don’t always consider.

Service station snacks

The hidden costs of motoring were brought into stark focus recently when Admiral Car insurance carried out a mystery shopper test comparing UK service station snack prices with the cost of buying the same items elsewhere. It revealed that, if you stop to pick up snacks, drinks, or takeaway meals while on the road, you could be paying over 100% more than you would when buying the same items on the high street.

Admiral Car Insurance found that not only do food and drink products cost more in service stations than they do on the high street, but prices differ depending on which area of the country the services station is in as well.

A selection of snacks (water, Coke, a ham sandwich, a sausage roll, crisps, chocolate and Wine Gums) that costs £15.78 in the South West of England cost just £12.58 in the North West. This affords drivers in the North West a 25% saving. However, the same items would total just £6.11 in a supermarket. That’s almost 50% cheaper than the most reasonable service station.

The cost of drinks and snacks is rarely considered when taking a long road trip. However, if you have several passengers, the cost can come as something as a shock, particularly if you’ve carefully budgeted for your travel plans.

To avoid paying over the odds, stock up on food and drink before you set off – and use the PetrolPrices app to make sure you refuel at the best value petrol station too!

Parking charges

Paying to park is all part of driving into towns and cities in the UK. While many motorists keep spare change in the car for slotting into parking machines, the cost of parking in some areas now requires substantially more than just a few coins.

Late last year, it was announced that London was the second most expensive place to park in the world. The city charged an average price of £8.84 per hour, coming in at far more than the living wage for those aged 25 and older, which was set at £7.50.

New York City was the world’s most expensive place to park, with 60 minutes in a parking space costing a whopping £20.55 per hour on average. Contrast that with Bucharest, where drivers pay an average of 55 pence per hour to park their cars!

Stockholm, Athens and Oslo were also found to be expensive locations in which to park. However, those cities say that the high prices are intentional. The aim is to deter motorists from driving into the city centres, in a bid for them to become more eco-friendly.

Residents in London are also likely to pay extortionate amounts for parking permits. The most expensive permit is for the borough of Islington, setting the car owner back £545 per year for a single permit.

Strangely, the high-end borough of Kensington and Chelsea sells permits for the much lower price of £214, while a permit in Westminster costs just £141 per year. This suggests that there is very little joined up thinking behind how these prices are worked out!

Should you want to buy a parking space in its entirety in London, avoid South Kensington like the plague. The area is home to the most expensive parking space in the UK, costing £480,000. However, it could be worse – a space in central Manhattan reportedly sold for $1 million recently!

Breakdown cover

Many motorists don’t consider the cost of breakdown cover when they’re wrapped up in the excitement of buying a new car. However, this can be quite a significant expense, particularly if you want all the bells and whistles included.

When it comes to breakdown cover, there are concerns that some drivers are not spending as much as perhaps they should. This is often the result of finances being squeezed in other areas.

In addition, many drivers are holding on to older cars and missing vital services to try to save money. However, this is a flawed approach. Having an older car that isn’t looked after properly means a higher risk of breaking down, even if it’s only used for short journeys. Breaking down with no cover in place can be an expensive business.

Although breakdown cover isn’t a legal requirement, it is important that your car is covered in case you become stranded, especially if you are travelling with your family in the car. Avoiding the stress of breaking down with nobody to rescue you can be well worth the cost of breakdown cover, even if that purchase adds to the hidden costs of motoring.

When choosing breakdown cover, pay special attention to exactly what it includes. There is a vast array of options available, and the cheapest one may not cover exactly what you need. Conversely, the most expensive might include several elements for which you have no use.

It’s well worth finding out whether you can get a breakdown cover package with your car insurance. You can also buy a policy that covers more than one car if you have multiple vehicles in your household. Both of these approaches can save you money.

By keeping track of how much you’re spending on these hidden costs of driving, you’ll be able to budget more accurately, and avoid getting hit by unexpected costs when you can’t afford them. Of course, using the PetrolPrices app regularly to ensure that you get the best deal on fuel will also help to make driving a more cost effective experience.

Have you been caught out by over-priced motorway service station refreshments? How do you go about beating the hidden costs of motoring? Leave a comment below to let us know. 

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x