Learning to drive- any tips? Idea of costs?

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  • Learning to drive- any tips? Idea of costs?
  • RudeBoy

    I’ve finally decided to take the plunge, into the wonderful world of automobiles. Wanting to go further afield for bike rides, and the fact that I know a good few people in nice parts of the country, close to some good riding, I’ve decided it’s time to learn how to do it. i’ve never really needed to, living in London, but it would be a useful skill to have.

    Plus, I’ve noticed quite a few local driving instructor businesses are offering discounts at the moment, as the Credit Crunch is affecting them big time, apparently. So it seems like a good a time as any.

    Any advice, on what type of school to use? BSM seem to be a lot more expensive than others. Am I wise to go with an independent, or is it better off to go with a reputable firm from the start?

    I’m quite impatient, although I do pick things up quite quickly. How long am I looking at, or how many lessons? I’m thinking of 1-2 lessons a week, depending on available funds. Is doing it more intensely better, or is one lesson a week, for a few months, ok?

    Any thoughts/experiences?

    I’m sure the STW Collective Wisdom can help me out here! Thanks.

    Premier Icon ton

    my son has done 30 lessons @ £18 a lesson.
    the bloke takes him on the same route, does the same stuff.

    i bought him a car for xmas, i took him out for 1.5 hrs on xmas day, he was ok to be honest.

    i booked him a 2hr lesson with bsm last tuesday, the bsm bloke said if he had taken 30 lessons with them he would be done and passed by now.

    so go with bsm, they have to reach a certain pass rate.
    not just money making.

    we have now booked him 10 hrs with bsm to get him ready for his test.


    I took 14 lessons over about 8 weeks to pass. Then had two more after passing about correct motorway driving (it was surprisingly useful). Cost isn’t really relevant as I passed 16 years ago 😉


    just coming upto two years since i learnt, as i remember it was £20 a lesson, two practical tests and around 30 lessons. Then a pass plus on top. (do pass plus if only because the cost will probably be less than the saving you get on your first insurance bill.)


    £20-25 is average. Folk take anything between 6 and 200hrs to pass. Average is 40ish.

    Ton – that BSM guy sounds like a bit of a knob to me.


    BSM are charging about £27 an hour, locally, although they do discounts for 2 hours at a time. Some local firms are charging £15 or even less, I understand.

    I was thinking, maybe do a certain amount with a cheap firm, learn the basics, then go onto BSM or someone, when it gets more involved.

    So, about 30 hours should be ok?

    Rudeboy, best bet is to ask around and get recommendations. The independant Vs big company debate has pro’s & cons. I’ve always been inde, and it means you have to give 110% to every pupil, there’s no company to hide behind.

    The DSA stats suggest approx 40hrs professional tutition plus similar private practice for a first time pass, though obviously everyone is different. Remember a decent instructor will give you a skill for life, not just try and scrape you through the test.

    My pupils find a minimum of 2hrs a week gets them progressing at a reasonable pace. I try to discourage just 1 hr a week in the early stages as the knowledge doesn’t stick from week to week so the learning process takes longer (and costs them more).

    Just my thoughts, there are other instructors in the STW massive that I’m sure will be along to share their views.



    Rudeboy – No.

    If folk are having to charge £15/hr or less to get business then they must be dire.

    Phone a few local ones and ask them what grade they got in their last check test. they will be graded 4 to 6, 6 being the highest. 4 is scraping a pass, 6 misses nothing.

    Also ask if they are fully qualified. BSM etc use a lot of trainee instructors that have yet to pass any test of instructional ability.


    ask about, the best local instructors will have a good rep.


    I passed two and a half years ago. Started learning with an independent for £18 an hour IIRC. I took about ten lessons with her and then just stopped because she was a whiny old bag. A few months later I took a batch of 6 (2hr) lessons over course of 4 weeks with BSM at £40 each with discount for booking them all at once. Then passed first time.

    BSM cost a bit more, but from my experience I think it was worth extra. Others will possibly disagree, it depends on the teacher.

    Oh, and please don’t use cost as your deciding factor. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

    If instructors are offering ridiculusly cheap lessons, ask yourself why they are having to. I’m the most expensive instructor in the area but get all my business by recommendation, including many moving from cheaper instructors because they talk to their friends and realise they aren’t progressing as quickly.



    Or, if you fancy a week in the borders give me a shout and i’ll teach you. 😉


    First of all i’d get the theory test done as that was my mistake. Did a load of lessons could have done practical but still hadn’t done theory and thus i still haven’t passed.

    I went with BSM they were alright like, did once get a different teacher to one i normally had as they over booked. But then i heard of private people who did this yet there is no one to cover in that scenario.

    I think what RudeBoy said made some sense, it then gives you the option if the private person good you can stay with them.


    I paid about £18 per lesson with the AA. Had about 20 lessons but did go travelling for 6 months after 15 then took 5 to catch up before the test.

    Other costs (theory, test) ar available on line. THe biggest sting is going to be the first years insurance (£600 on a 1.2 P reg clio 3rd party) and buying a car. Got

    First guy (2 lessons) was a knob so I phoned up and asked for a new instructor. Second guy was brilliant. Joy of the AA is that you can just change instructor if you don’t like him.


    Take 2 hour lessons, you only just start in 1hour and can’t get anywhere.
    Don’t learn to pass your test, learn to drive. Take a few extra lessons rather than scraping through.
    Do pass plus to get motorway and extra tuition including, night time and bad weather driving if you learn over summer.
    My instructor was able to arrange a Mock test with another instructor at the AA, very valuable experience.
    Get to know the roads where your test will be. On mine there were places where people would routinely fail because things were very confused, complicated (bus lanes that changed from being closed to open during the test times etc.)
    Go for a lesson before your test.

    Get some reccomendations for an instructor. I used the same one as my sister did 10years ago!
    Don’t do one lesson a week, take a week off and do 2hrs a day to get a good base.
    Get out and practice as much as possible.
    Try different footwear…made a difference to me on the clutch control.
    Take the theory test now and get it out the way.

    Good luck!


    I started learning to drive in October 2007, passed the test in April 2008. Took the practical 3 times before succeeding as I was a real muppet behind the wheel. Terry, my instructor, was from AA and he’s great. Bit more expensive than some, £300 for 12hrs, but a new car, loads of patience and very good teaching skills.
    I’d say go for a fully accredited and qualified instructor. There is a massive difference with cycle training, so with driving it must be even bigger.


    Thanks, folks, some good advice there.

    I think some of the local independents have dropped their prices, because it’s a slack time of year, no-one’s got any money anyway, and they just need to keep business running. There are a few little firms that have been going for years, so I’m sure they’re reputable.

    The theory, I’m not worried about. I did one of those DVD ones a while ago – piece of piss. I have pretty good reactions, and a good sense of spatial awareness, and I’ve cycled around London enough to learn about potential hazards! And I probably know more about road signage than a lot of drivers out there, judging by what I’ve seen.

    I’m looking to pass first time. I know this isn’t possible for many people, but it’s operating a machine in a potentially hazardous environment. I don’t want to be messing around taking my test several times; I’d just not bother, tbh. Can’t see myself struggling with it anyway, really. And judging by the number of idiots on the road, the test surely can’t be that difficult.

    So, the idea is to start taking lessons, and increase the frequency the further I go. And to borrow friend’s motors to practice in. I’m sure they won’t mind..

    So, about £600-1000 all in, then? Plus the test, how much is that?

    6 months or so should be a good time frame, or should I be aiming to do it in less time? I’d rather take the time, build up experience, confidence and skill, and then have more chance of passing first time.

    And then, I won’t be looking to buy a car, more like rent, when I need one, or borrow a mate’s. Will I be able to rent a vehicle straight away, or will I have to have so many years driving under my belt? I’m late 30s, btw.

    Insurance? That’s the main reason I wouldn’t buy a car. Not worth it. Not living in London. Just a waste of money.


    when i first passed i looked at hiring cars but most want you to 25+ and at least a year of holding a licence.

    I would also say that i failed my first test because i did something stupid, test nerves. A fair few people do take two tests. I do wonder when you get to 4-5 tests whether you should be on the road.

    As for test cost i seem to remember it being c£100 but that included a lesson before hand as well. Test must have been 40-50, but probably more now.

    Other details, the test keeps on getting harder, but because we don’t do retests those numpties with years of “experience” are left to carry on being numpties.

    Go to the DVLA website for details.


    Are driving instuctors not graded I seem to remember mine was a grade 6 which he was very proud of as it was hard to get???


    I took 30hours to pass with BSM and definately recommend them. My other half has been learning to drive and ton’s son went with a local instructor who was crap she’s now with BSM who are so much better. Are you able to get insured on your folks car? If they have a similar car to what you would potentially be learning in t’s a cheper way to learn. Basically get them to sit next t you while you drive round loads and get the an instructir to iron out the bad habits and concentrate on manouveres. Prices with BSM seem to vary but if you block by 10 hours i think is £200 where as a single lesson is something like £22, the perks of blocks buying is that after that the hourly rate will be at the redced rate. Test day is about £100 all in. [including 2 hours of instructors time]

    Have fun!!!!


    Well, if I need a year’s experience under my belt to hire, then I’ll just have to wait! It’s more the being able to drive legally, that matters. And the UK test isn’t as tough as some; in Norway, you have to be able to drive on ice! I remember being over there, in a little Mazda sports thing, with a young lady, who was throwing it from lock to lock, proper rally style. Apparently, their test is in several stages, and takes ages to pass, and cost a fortune!

    The idea of being able to hire a van, chuck some bikes in it, and **** off to wherever, really appeals to me. As for driving around town, sod that. That’s what a bike is for. No need for motor, for any journey under 30 miles or so. Public transport is good enough for me, and pretty reasonable with an Oyster card, so I see no reason to own a car.

    Brrm brrmm!


    rudeboy, it is not a years experience, just having a licence for a year, which is the stupid part.


    Well, I suppose so, but they won’t know whether I drive 50,000 miles a year, or none, will they?

    The advice to go for BSM seems sound. I’ll see if I can find a reputable local independent first, though.

    And, because I’m over 30, apparently insurance, even for a first-time driver, is a fair bit lower.

    Stupid fools, that means I can get a proper stupid GTi, and rag it around like a lunatic!



    My first car a Octavia 1.9TDi came in at c£600 a year to insure, i was 32. So yes age makes a huge difference.

    To take this to an extreme for a laugh i asked for a quote on a Subaru Imprezza Turbo, about £2k as a new driver! if i had been 17 i think they would have laughed.


    Have you got the use of a car Rudeboy?

    I found clutch control the hardest thing to master, so if you are like me it might be worth finding a empty car park to practice parking, reversing round bends, that sort of thing.

    Good luck btw, I would hate to take my test again.


    Bearing in mind, that any insurance quotes that many of you may get, will be multiplied, as this bit of London is not the place where you can leave anything and expect it to be there when you come back! So, it’s an old banger or nothing, really. Something like an old estate, or smallish van. Not bothered about performance etc; as long as it gets me there in one piece. But as I’ve said, hiring when I actually need something, will probably work out cheaper over a year, than owning any vehicle, plus it’s a lot less stressful.


    I don’t care what anyone says- if you arent assed about the petrolhead’ experience then learn in a automatic. I almost went this route but sadly couldnt find a (decent) Automatic instructor. Good luck!


    Get up North and seek out Glupton.

    *Shivers at the thought of Glupton and Fred in same car*


    Or…..I fancy an experience so I#m currently trying to convince the missus to buy a Scooter 🙄

    Just don’t get any points – I have 5 and the cost of car insurance stops me from buying one. Motorbike is cheap though and can kill you more easily so a better buy 😉


    and 6 points in first two years mean you loose your license, completely. Back to square one, take out a provisional, have to take all your tests again.


    I know BSM keeps getting suggested, and a long time ago, in a very distant pass, i had cause to re-take my test, i had an independent instructor, who was impressed with my driving & car control, so I took the test and made a right mess of it. not for my lack of control or general ability, but because i didnt drive the way a learner would – ie both hands on the wheel, a little more mirror work .. anyway … cue BSM getting involved, we went back to basics and I had 4x 2hr lessons a week for 3 weeks, take the test and bam, passed first time, no minor faults, nothing, a clean sheet and absolutely text-book.

    Yes you pay more for using BSM, but, think of it this way, do you want to learn to drive or learn to pass your test?

    good luck with it all bud,



    Thanks. I tried to stop a BSM bloke round here earlier, but the poor bloke shit himself and sped off! I only wanted to ask him a couple of questions!

    I have driven a car before, just not legally, and only in a car park or on deserted roads near an industrial estate. I actually taught myself the basics of how to get a car moving, whilst sitting bored waiting for a mate, in a deserted car park. So I’m sure I can pick things up pretty quickly. But obviously, learning good habits and roadcraft from a professional, is the best way to go about it.

    I shall ponder this matter…


    Ive two mates both instructors, who were bsm but now independant-and cheaper, so dont be afraid of the indies

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