Nothing quite compares to having the freedom to go wherever you’d like. Being able to drive gives you ultimate independence. Whether you’re nipping out on a quick errand or taking off on a long road trip, it can feel like the world is at your feet. Unfortunately, freedom can be pretty costly. When you add up the upfront cost of buying a car, vehicle tax, insurance and the cost of fuel, it can often feel like you’re watching most of your income slip through your fingers. Sharing a car, however, can help you save money and cut down on your emissions.
Of course, sharing is a car is always easier in theory than it is in practice. That’s why we’re going to take you through the ins and outs of sharing a car. From the benefits of sharing four wheels to top tips to help keep everyone happy, we’ve got it all!
How it works
No matter whether you’re looking to share your parents’ car or your very own with a group of friends, there are some ground rules that you have to adhere to. For starters, anyone who is driving must be qualified to do so. We’re not just talking about having a full driving licence. All drivers need to be qualified to drive the specific transmission of the vehicle. If you have a manual car, for example, other drivers must have a manual licence.
Once you’ve checked that everyone is qualified, you’ll need to sort out insurance. If your parents want you to share their car, they could add you to their insurance policy as a named driver. If you’re sharing your own car with a third party, there are plenty of young driver insurance policies that enable you to add named drivers. While no one enjoys the paperwork and hassle that come with this, it is a legal requirement, so don’t skip it. Failing to adhere to the law could lead to a fine, penalty points or disqualification from driving.
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What are the benefits of sharing a car?
Trying to convince your friends or family that sharing a car is the future? Forget the sweet talking and promises. Just share these benefits with them instead:
✓ Save money. Think about how expensive owning a car can be. If you’re sharing a car with at least one other person, however, you’ll be able to split the costs. By doing so, you’re looking at a reduction in the cost of insurance, fuel, parking and tax.
✓ Help the environment. If you can’t fork out for an eco-friendly car just yet, sharing a car is the next best thing (beyond just giving up on driving altogether). You’ll be able to reduce your carbon emissions and feel that much better about yourself.
✓ Reduce congestion. No-one likes to be stuck in traffic, especially when you’re trying to get to work or make an appointment. As much as the government pushes public transport, there’s still a lot of traffic on the roads. Sharing a car, however, can help to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
✓ Enjoy more pleasant journeys. It can be all too easy to get bored on your daily commute to work. In fact, driving alone can often lead to you hating the thought of getting in the car. If you’re going the same way as your fellow car sharer(s), however, you’ll be able to enjoy idle chit-chat and the extra company.
✓ Reduce stress. Let’s face it: driving can occasionally become quite a tense affair. Getting cut off, being tailgated and endless traffic jams are enough to send any driver round the bend. Having someone in the car to laugh it off with can help you to stave off the dreaded road rage. Better still, you’ll be spending less time behind the wheel—so, less time worrying!
Top tips for sharing a car
It doesn’t matter how easygoing you and your fellow car sharers are. You need to have some ground rules in place in order to avoid miscommunication, temper tantrums and falling-outs.
1. Make sure everyone is qualified
Whilst we have already touched on this topic, we really can’t emphasise the importance of it enough. Not only do you need to make sure that everyone driving the car is qualified, but you must also check that they’re following their driving licence codes. If, for example, your friend is required to wear glasses whilst driving, make sure they do. If anyone driving the car is caught violating the conditions of their licence, they’re looking at a £100 on-the-spot fine, 3 to 6 penalty points and an additional fine worth 50% of their weekly salary.
It’s also important that you and the other driver(s) know the rules of the road inside and out. If it’s been a while since you took the theory test then you’ll want to give the Highway Code another read. The roads are constantly changing, so you need to know how to keep yourself and other road users safe. If you’d like to make things more interesting, you could test your theoretical knowledge with a few mock theory tests.
2. Write up some rules
We’d recommend that you and the other driver(s) sit down and discuss some ground rules that need to be followed during your arrangement. Everyone needs to be on the same page, otherwise you’ll be throwing fists within the week. Let’s look at a few areas that you’ll need to cover before you start sharing a car…
Figuring out how to pay for fuel might be difficult. If you’re not using the car equally, you might have to keep track of how much each person uses the car and try to use that to calculate who needs to pay what amount. If you’re sharing it equally, you could create a joint fund that you all put an equal amount into each month. Alternatively, you could take it in turns to pay for the fuel.
To avoid any confusion or arguments, decide exactly how the sharing arrangement will work. Are you taking turns on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Or is it a case of ‘booking’ the car for when you’ll actually need it? Whatever you decide on, you’ll need to make sure you stick to it. You might also want to add in a compromise clause, e.g., allowing someone to take the car when it’s not their turn if they have an important appointment or arrangement.
A car just isn’t the complete package unless it comes with accessories! Most cars, for example, are kitted out with sat navs and AUX/USB cables for Spotify. What you need to decide, however, is whether it’s a free for all or not. Does the sat nav stay in the car at all times or does the actual owner take it out when it’s not their turn? Similarly, do all parties need to pack their own essential car items each time they use the car?
Obviously, if you’ve all decided to contribute money towards purchasing car accessories, this won’t be an issue.
If one of the drivers involved in the car share situation has a pet, then you’ll want to decide straight away whether or not they’re allowed to transport them in the car. If someone has an allergy, for example, then it’s a no-brainer. Of course, some people might simply hate the idea of getting cat or dog hair all over their car. We’d recommend taking a vote and only allowing pets in the car if it’s a unanimous decision.
If the thought of your car smelling like smoke has you gagging, you’ll obviously need to make it a smoke-free zone. In fact, unless all parties involved are smokers, you’ll most likely have to ban any smokers from partaking inside the car.
3. Keep a schedule
The best way to ensure everyone sharing the car is on the same page is to set up a shared calendar. If you’re taking turns on a weekly basis, for example, you can note down which person gets the car each week. If you’re doing it on an as-needed basis, then all involved parties can jot down their appointments and plans. Sync your calendars or make sure there’s shared access. Using a service such as Google Calendar will ensure that you know who needs the car and when.
Sharing a calendar is also handy for tracking fuel consumption. That is, if you’ve decided to pay for fuel according to who used it up more—rather than taking it in turns—you can figure out how much each driver used the car. Keeping track of who has been driving the car will also be handy if one of you ends up committing a driving offence. If you’re caught speeding, for example, the police will send a letter asking who was driving at the time of the offence. Having a calendar at your disposal will help you avoid any confusion or arguments.
4. Decide on your pick-up points
If you’re sharing a car with family or someone you live with, then you won’t really need to worry about this point. You’ll just drop the car off in front of your house once you’re done. If you live in a different area to the other driver(s), however, you will need to decide on a pick-up/drop-off point and establish a system. Do you drop the car off at the other driver’s house, or do they come to you to collect it?
You should also have a system in place for discussing the exchanging of the car. You’ll want to avoid any miscommunication. We’d advise you set up something like a WhatsApp group so that you can arrange meetings and discuss any changes.
5. Try to compromise when you can
Unfortunately, even detailed calendars and schedules can’t help you avoid messy arguments and disagreements altogether. Sometimes, you’ll find that you and the other driver(s) might need to use the car at the same time. When this happens, you need to be open to a compromise. Can one of you take public transport instead? Is there a way for one of you to drop the other off before heading out?
Try to keep an open mind and make sure all parties involved communicate with one another. If you’re too rigid, resentment will build and you’ll soon find yourself having to figure out an alternative to sharing a car.
6. Keep it clean
Just because you might be content to live in squalor inside your car doesn’t mean the other driver is. You need to be aware that sharing a car means all parties involved need to clean up their own mess. Whether you’re prone to leaving empty bottles of water in the backseat or have a problem with hoarding all of your parking stubs, you need to make sure you clear it all out before you hand the car over. It’s not just general rubbish you need to be conscious of. The footwells and dashboard practically attract dirt and dust—so you might want to take turns doing a deep clean.
When it comes to the exterior of the car, you’ll have to decide whether you want to clean it yourselves or take it to a car wash. If you’re doing it yourselves, are you taking it in turns or doing it together? If you’re sticking to the car wash, are you paying in turns or using a dedicated fund for it?
7. Take care of it
Cars undergo a lot of wear and tear during their lifetime. Sometimes, it happens without us even realising. If you want to minimise the chances of your car breaking down, you’ll want to make sure everyone’s on the same page when it comes to car maintenance. Depending on how often you exchange the car, you’ll want to create a system in which you take turns inspecting the car for damage. Keep an eye out for things like warning lights on the dashboard, cracks on the windscreen and underinflated tyres.
If you do run into an issue, you’ll obviously have to take it in to get fixed. So, how are you going to pay for it? Are taking it in turns or is there a dedicated money pot for it? For obvious reasons, you can’t just leave it up to whoever has spotted the problem. It just wouldn’t be fair. You’ll also want to decide how you’re going to pay for the car’s annual MOT.
8. Keep it secure
Do you really want to go to all the effort of creating and following a bunch of ground rules only for your shared car to end up stolen? You need to make sure all drivers sharing the car are vigilant in keeping the car as safe and secure as possible. Remember, if your car is stolen because one driver was complacent, it ruins the arrangement for everyone. (Wouldn’t you just hate to go back to public transport?!).
We’ve got plenty of handy tips to keep your car secure. So, sit down with the other driver(s) sharing the car with you and read through them carefully. Tips like ‘not keeping valuables inside the car’ will be easy enough to follow. When it gets to buying additional security, e.g., an electronic alarm and immobiliser, you’ll all need to pitch in for the cost.