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Revealed – the most expensive cities in the UK for drivers

New research carried out for Kwik Fit has revealed the most expensive cities to own a car in the UK1. Researchers looked at the variance in the most common items of motoring expenditure in 20 locations across the country and found that when it comes to the cost of motoring, the UK’s second city is actually top of the table.

Birmingham was found by the researchers to be the UK’s costliest place to own a car, a position largely driven by the fact that the most expensive resident’s parking permit in the city is a whopping £785 per year. When combined with items such as annual fuel costs, insurance, and parking away from home, the study for Kwik Fit found that total costs to Birmingham motorists beat those of Manchester and London into second and third place respectively. The top five is completed by Belfast and Preston, where the study found that low parking permit costs are offset by high average annual fuel bills.

The fact that motorists in Leeds, Liverpool and Nottingham do not have to pay for a resident’s permit helps to keep overall costs down for drivers in those cities. However, in many cases, the research for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company, found that savings in one area are offset by other items, particularly insurance.

Based on the average car insurance premium for different postcodes, annual cover varied by 156% from the cheapest location to the most expensive. Exeter was found to be the place with the lowest insurance costs, while London has the most expensive, more than 2.5 times the equivalent cost in the Devon city.

While Liverpool car owners may not have to pay for residents parking, they are hit with the second highest insurance costs in the UK, behind only London for a comparable vehicle and driver. This helps propel Liverpool up into seventh place in the most expensive cities table.

Conversely, Edinburgh’s lower insurance costs are the key reason why the city appears in the bottom quarter of Kwik Fit’s table. Despite having the UK’s fifth highest residents’ permit cost at £254, the fact that the Scottish capital has the second lowest insurance cost in the country, at just 7% more than Exeter, is a major factor in it being positioned in 16th place.

A summary table of the costs can be seen below, with the full detail available on the Kwik Fit website

  City / town Average annual spend on fuel Average annual
spend on parking
(eg pay and display)
Residents’ annual
parking permit
Sample insurance
1 Birmingham £1,189.76 £226.20 £785.00 £1,125.91 £3,326.87
2 Manchester £1,037.40 £178.36 £650.00 £1,128.60 £2,994.36
3 London £1,131.00 £201.24 £155.00 £1,433.88 £2,921.12
4 Belfast £1,506.96 £170.04 £30.00 £1,030.10 £2,737.10
5 Preston £1,452.36 £124.80 £25.00 £869.54 £2,471.70
6 Leeds £1,107.60 £277.16 £0 £990.50 £2,375.26
7 Liverpool £1,064.44 £104.00 £0 £1,140.40 £2,308.84
8 Nottingham £1,202.76 £284.96 £0 £794.79 £2,282.51
9 Sheffield £1,068.60 £96.72 £260.00 £841.91 £2,267.23
10 Glasgow £1,040.00 £130.00 £285.00 £735.78 £2,190.78
11 Coventry £1,157.00 £132.60 £25.00 £865.47 £2,180.07
12 Leicester £1,076.40 £148.20 £25.00 £830.93 £2,080.53
13 Brighton £1,106.56 £177.84 £130.00 £648.76 £2,063.16
14 Reading £1,191.84 £102.96 £40.00 £696.44 £2,031.24
15 Cardiff £1,053.00 £132.08 £7.50 £771.27 £1,963.85
16 Edinburgh £995.28 £72.80 £254.00 £600.33 £1,922.41
17 Bristol £1,043.12 £121.16 £50.00 £696.18 £1,910.46
18 Newcastle £915.72 £182.52 £25.00 £755.87 £1,879.11
19 Southampton £797.16 £114.40 £100.00 £688.66 £1,700.22
20 Exeter £924.04 £162.24 £30.00 £559.47 £1,675.75
  Overall £1,106.56 £154.44 £223.71 £860.24 £2,344.95


Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “This research reveals that the costs all motorists have to bear can vary considerably even between neighbouring cities. One area where we can help is in providing MOT and servicing which does not change in price by location, ensuring drivers can have certainty and confidence over at least some of their motoring costs.”

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